New call for UK Catalysis Hub Projects 2020

Due to the Current situation and research climate the UK Catalysis Hub has made the decision to extend the deadline for Proposals from May 8th to August 15th. This is to allow fruitful discussions between industry and academics and to allow academics to adjust to the additional complexities of moving to remote teaching and assessment. We will continue to asses this new deadline as the situation unfolds.

The Call will now close on the 15th August at 17.00. Please send a 2 page (A4, Arial 11 point, margins 2.0 cm) proposal for these projects to The Project Co-ordinator, Josie Goodall before 17.00 on the closing date. Please use the Subject line: ‘Application for New Call 2020’. It is strongly advised you use the Criteria for Prioritization as headings to organise your proposal. 

The Catalysis Hub supports internationally leading multi-disciplinary multi-institution collaborative research projects where scientific excellence is the first criteria.  The Hub encourages applicants to seek out industrial support if it is relevant to the science proposed prior to the application.

All proposals submitted to the Hub should follow the Hub Ethos and should not be relevant to other research council pathways or calls.  The UK Catalysis hub themes are i) Optimising, Predicting and Designing New Catalysts, ii) Catalysis at the Water Energy Nexus and iii) Catalysis for the Circular Economy and Sustainable Manufacturing. Read more about our new research programme.

It is expected that prioritisation will occur in September and successful projects will be announced later in 2020 and will start in early 2021, except where they are following directly on from an existing project (e.g. the core PDRAS in science 1).

Criteria for the prioritization panel

The 2 page proposal should address the following areas:

  1. Scientific quality:   The Catalysis Hub supports internationally leading multi-disciplinary multi-institution  collaborative research projects where scientific excellence is the primary criteria.
  2. Suggested Hub theme: please specify which theme your project best fits and if you are applying for Core PDRA time (Science 1: lasers, neutrons, synchrotrons and modelling).
  3. Programme dimension: addressing the impact of the project on the other areas of catalysis as represented by the Hub themes and catalysis areas including upcoming and under represented areas.
  4. Collaboration: how the collaboration will work and who will participate. All projects are required to be multi-institution and multi-disciplinary. The Hub promotes collaborative projects which much involve investigators from at least two institutions. Industrial and International partners are welcomed but the PDRA must be hosted in the UK by a UK academic institution.
  5. Why, what and where: It is essential to specify why funding from the Hub is required and appropriate as opposed to other UKRI funding mechanisms. Projects should have a maximum duration of 24 months including all funding (e.g. 18 months Hub support with 6 months industrial support). Projects requiring 18 months of Hub support are particularly welcomed, and due to the current situation awards may be limited to 18 months.  Please state what is the required resource from the Hub (normal expectation is one PDRA for 12-24 months to work on collaborative projects with multiple partners) as well as what resource will be provided by the project team and Industry.  Also, where appropriate, the project should indicate how it will make use of the Hub and the Harwell Campus Facilities.
    Please also include where will the PDRA be located* and any  secondments and/or visits to the collaborating laboratories depending on the requirements of the science in the project.
  6. Success criteria: describe the criteria against which the project should be judged by, e.g. publications, patent applications, industrial collaborations begun, outreach activities. Key will be how the project will be taken forward in the light of success.
  7. Impact and Potential for future development. What is the purpose of the research if successful. How will this contribute to i) Society and Environment ii) Economic iii) People and iv) Outreach.
  8. Leveraged or additional Funding the Hub strongly encourages projects that have leveraged or additional funding from industry. The Hub recognises in these times Industrial contributions may be hard to come by. The Hub is sustaining industry and the Hub is using its resources to support industry – academic contributions and welcomes industrial involvement in cutting edge catalytic research. Direct contributions will affect prioritisation but we seek to develop and maintain industrial relationships of all kinds. 
  9. Value for money

* please note that the Science 1: Optimising Predicting and Designing new Catalysis (OPDNC) theme is based at Harwell to take advantage of facilities and the location so projects involving the science 1 theme will need to be located at the Research Complex at Harwell.


Proposals should be no more than 2 pages long. Please follow EPSRC guidelines on formatting for your proposals e.g. minimum font size 11, with margins being at least 2cm in all directions; only Arial or Helvetica font styles may be used, and text should be justified left. 

There is no need to include a table of costs as these are fixed by what EPSRC have awarded the Hub.

It is strongly advised you use the Criteria for Prioritization as headings to organise your proposal.

Letters of support

If relevant, Industrial letters of support may be appended to the proposals to demonstrate impact or industrial interaction.

Industrial Support

The Hub encourages applicants to seek industrial engagement and support for their projects. The nature of the project should reflect the UK Catalysis Hub ethos. The Hub recognises in these times Industrial contributions may be hard to come by. The Hub is sustaining industry and the Hub is using its resources to support industry – academic contributions and welcomes industrial involvement in cutting edge catalytic research. Direct contributions will affect prioritisation but we seek to develop and maintain industrial relationships of all kinds.

Please note it is important to agree IP arrangements in advance. 

All industrial contributions should be made to the host institution as detailed in the Letter of Support.


Please note the Budget for projects is set across the Hub by what was granted by EPSRC in the grants and thus is fixed, if you wish to view these figures please contact the Project Manager by email It is the responsibility of the person applying to secure agreement from their finance department prior to submitting an application.

The Science 1: Optimising Predicting and Designing new Catalysis (OPNDC) theme is based at Harwell to take advantage of facilities and the location so Projects involving the Science 1 theme will need to be located at the Research Complex at Harwell. This affects the funding available for these projects as estates cost were not included in the funding granted.

In the OPNDC theme (Science 1) these four areas were designated strategic: Syncrotrons, Neutrons, Lasers and Modelling. PDRAS in these areas have been hired for 5 years, though they will be available to work on projects in these areas from the new call. If you are developing projects in these areas we strongly suggest you talk to the PI of the theme (Prof. Catlow) and the PDRA involved in that area. Please specify on the application that it is a core PDRA. CORE PDRAs may work on multiple projects each with a proportion of the time available  (e.g. two 9 month Projects )

PLEASE NOTE  the costs available only cover the PDRA Time, no costs for PI time were awarded by EPSRC and therefore are not included in the projects budget. 

The PDRAS are

Donato Decarolis – Synchrotrons and XAFS  (Current projects ends 28 Feb 2021)

Donato’s work has focussed on the application of X-Ray techniques to study various systems under catalytic conditions. He learned how to devise, successfully propose and perform in situ synchrotron radiation experiments – while designing specific reactors for such experiments. In the course of his work, he performed 15 experiments, at different synchrotron facilities (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Diamond Light Source, Swiss Light Source) on various XAS beamlines: BM26A (ESRF), B18 (DLS), I20-Scanning (DLS), I20-EDE (DLS), SuperXAS (SLS), ID16-B (ESRF) and diffraction beamlines: I07 (DLS). The majority of these experiments involved the application of novel approaches to in situ data acquisition, and the combination of multiple spectroscopic and scattering techniques such as XAFS/DRIFTS, XAFS/XRD, XAFS/SAXS, GISAXS/WAXS. Recently his work also has involved the use and development of spatially resolved techniques for XAFS application such as the SPACI-FB and optimisation of custom-made XAFS/DRIFTS cells.

Santhosh Matam – Neutrons  (Current project ends 31 November 2020)

Santhosh Matam has a PhD (from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany) in the field of chemistry and catalysis with emphasis on the application of in situ/operando spectroscopy to derive structure activity relationships. His education, training and experience are centred on the application of neutron scattering, X-ray absorption and laser based techniques under real operation of a catalytic process (operando methodology) to establish structure activity relationships with more than 17 years of relevant academic research experience. Since 2016, he has employed neutron scattering techniques, including quasi-elastic (QENS), inelastic (INS) and total (TNS) neutron scattering techniques which enable to investigate molecular dynamics in porous materials, surface adsorbed species and liquid or solid structure determination, respectively.

His current research activities are centred on the application of neutron scattering techniques to characterise catalysts and catalytic processes and understand molecular dynamics and surface adsorbed species that provide information on the reaction and deactivation mechanism of a catalytic process (including gas-solid and liquid-solid interfaces). The combination of QENS and INS is unique and make it powerful for complex catalysis studies. TNS enables to understand arrangement of reactant molecules around the active sites in a porous materials. He also employs computational tools to unravel molecular and atomic level interactions at gas-solid and liquid-solid interfaces and thereby aid to determine reaction pathways.

Yesid Willington Hernandez – Lasers (Current project ends 30 June 2021)

Yesid possess a PhD in Chemistry with emphasis in Heterogeneous Catalysis, along with ~ 10 years of experience in relevant research topics including DeNOx systems, catalytic oxidation, hydrogen generation, biomass valorisation and hydrogenation-related processes. His background in catalysis and inorganic chemistry is very broad and includes hands-on-experience in the synthesis and characterisation of functional materials (such as high-surface-area metal oxides, metal-supported catalysts, porous materials, etc), surface chemistry, reaction kinetics and manipulation of lab-scale and semi-pilot scale reactors (fix-bed and batch reaction systems). In addition, he has gained valuable experience in the design of functional inorganic materials by studying/analysing relevant structure-to-functionality relationships (including the implementation of “In situ” characterization techniques).

Matthew Quesne – Modelling  (Current project ends 28 feb 2021)

Matthew Quesne’s PhD focused on modelling the catalytic mechanisms of enzymatic and biomimetic systems, under the supervision of Dr Sam de Visser (Manchester Institute of Biotechnology). During his first PostDoc as part of the group headed by Dr Tomasz Borowski (Institute of Catalysis and Surface Chemistry Polish, Poland) he focused on MD, QM/MM and cluster model simulations of metal dependent enzymes. Subsequently, a move back to the United Kingdom saw him join the group of Prof. Richard Catlow (Cardiff University) where he studied CO2 activation on a variety of transition metal carbides.  Finally, at the UK Catalysis Hub Matthew is currently applying his experience in modelling both heterogeneously and homogenously catalysed reaction mechanisms to a variety of different Hub projects. Over a decade of modelling he has worked with dozens of different experimental groups and provided the in silico components to many joint computational/experimental studies.  Recently, his work as part of a large multi-disciplinary EPSRC project and as a core Hub PostDoc has demonstrated the importance of collaboration across many different UK institutions. He is keen to offer his expertise to a wide variety of different catalytic problems and would be very happy to answer any email queries.


All institutions must sign the accession agreement (to the collaboration agreement) as is with no amendments for the projects to go ahead.

Please contact Josie Goodall ( for a copy of these agreements. 

If your institution has not yet signed one of these agreements, please contact your contracts departments to discuss them before submitting a proposal. Please also discuss the financial models with your finance department prior to submitting the project.


It is expected that PDRAS hired on Hub projects will engage with the UK Catalysis Hub including attending Hub conferences and workshops, attending theme and project meetings. The Hub requires regular reporting to the Project Manager (and theme leaders) at least 6 monthly. The Project Manager should be informed of any outcomes (publications, patents, translation and follow on funding. The Hub should be acknowledged on all relevant outputs (e.g. publications, presentation and posters). It is also expected that PDRAS will spend approximately 5% of their time on impact activities.

UK Catalysis Hub Vision and Ethos

  • To establish a world-leading, comprehensive and coordinated programme of catalytic science in the UK.
  • To develop new knowledge and promote innovation in and translation of catalytic science and technology.
  • Enabling the UK to regain and retain a world leading position in catalysis.

A key feature of the Hub Ethos is that all projects involve multi–institutional multidisciplinary collaborations developing international leading scientific research. Research projects should tackle catalysis challenges and opportunities that are not approachable by one PDRA with one PI in one Lab.

Details for secondment of PDRAs within the UK Catalysis Hub

  1. UK Catalysis Hub policies allow staff to be seconded for up to 12 months as long as an accession agreement is in place.  This is covered by standard policy. We will ask the University to which the PDRA is to be seconded to sign the accession agreement. This will be a take it or leave it option.
  2. For secondments less than 6 month there would be no transfer of overhead costs from employing to the host institution.  They could claim consumables through employer institution and have them delivered to their seconded institution.  This is very straightforward but please note that the host institution gets nothing financially.  Any REF outputs would be claimed by employer as well as the host institution if they are an identified collaborator.
  3. The secondment policy allows secondments of up to 12 months (Over 6 months). However, under EPSRC rules we would need to transfer the Estates components of the overhead to the host institution.
  4. Secondments for more than 12 months might be possible but would need to be agreed on a case by case basis.

Summary Table

<6 MonthSalary, consumables and all overhead claimed by the PI (ot PDRA employer) institutionunchangedNo Financial AwardCore Secondment Policy
6-12 monthSame as above, but the estates component would be transferred to host institution and the employing institution award figure reduced accordingly unchanged Core Estates costs would be claimed as a research award by the host institution.Core Secondment Policy
>12 monthSame as above unchanged As aboveCore Secondment Policy – case by case basis

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