PhD Students

Lisa Allen
Lisa completed her Masters in Chemistry at Cardiff University in 2018 and after graduation, she took a year out to go travelling abroad. In 2019, she joined the Catalysis Hub as a PhD student at UCL to study supported metal oxide nanoparticle catalysts for their use in exhaust after-treatment technologies. Particularly, this project involves the use of operando techniques and synchrotron sources to characterise industrial catalysts. This project is in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and Diamond Light Source, and is supervised by Prof. Andy Beale.

Sining Chen
Sining Chen joined Beale Group in 2020 and now is a PhD student majoring in Chemistry at UCL under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Beale. She got her Bachelor’s degree (Environmental Science) and Master’s degree (Environmental Science and Engineering) at Beijing Forestry University, China. Her project is to explore the structure-activity relationship of Ni supported catalysts during the process of CO2 methanation.

Danial Farooq
Danial Farooq is a PhD student in the Beale group investigating the use of scattering-contrast computer tomography techniques to study Fischer-Tropsch catalyst to produce fuel from domestic waste. The project is hosted by UCL at the Catalysis Hub based in the Harwell Research Complex with collaboration of industry partners, BP and Johnson Matthey.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones is a PhD student at Loughborough University on the Sustainable Hydrogen CDT working with Dr Simon Kondrat, Professor Sandie Dann, and Dr Ian Silverwood. Ed’s research project involves using inelastic and quasi-elastic neutron scattering techniques to better understand the fundamentals of the Fisher-Tropsch chain growth mechanism, as well as other hydrogenation processes, on a model skeletal cobalt catalyst.

Matthew Jones
Matthew studied Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering at QMUL before a Masters degree at UCL where he researched automotive catalyst recycling. This lead to an interest in the topic in which he is currently studying for a PhD with the CatHub and the University of Manchester, ‘X-ray Computed Tomography of Aerosol Filtration in Automotive Catalytic Converters and Filters’. Further collaboration is from Johnson Matthey, the Diamond-Manchester I13 imaging branchline, and the University of Manchester at Harwell (UoMaH).

Igor Kowalec
Igor completed his MChem under the supervision of Prof Graham Hutchings at Cardiff University in 2019. He then gained experience as an Inorganic Analyst at Welsh Water. In October 2019 he joined Prof Richard Catlow’s research group in Cardiff Catalysis Institute as a PhD student. He is a member of the international Centre-to-Centre (C2C) project focusing on trimetallic nanoparticle catalysts suitable for renewable fuel synthesis from CO2. Igor’s research involves investigation of CO2 hydrogenation on Pd-based PdxCuyZnz alloy catalysts using modern periodic density functional theory techniques. He is currently modelling the hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol on individual monometallic low Miller index facets of Pd, Cu and Zn as foundation for understanding the reactivity of CO2 on binary and ternary alloys of these metals.

Alex Mayer
After completing his degree in chemistry with a year in industry, Alex started his PhD with Loughborough University and Diamond Light Source; under supervisors Simon Kondrat, Giannantonio Cibin, and Upul Wijayantha. The research is centred around the studying of potassium using advanced X-ray characterisation; with applications as a promoter in heterogeneous catalysis and as an ion in potassium batteries. 

Sofia Mediavilla-Madrigal
Sofia graduated in 2020 with a MEng in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London. During her studies she spent a year abroad at the National University of Singapore, where she first became interested in chemical catalysis. She is now a member of Beale group pursuing her PhD in Chemistry with Cardiff University under the supervision of Prof. Andy Beale, Prof. Stuart Taylor and Prof. Graham Hutchings. Her project mainly focuses on the characterisation of novel trimetallic catalysts for CO2 activation using electron microscopy and X-ray methods under in-situ and operando conditions. This project is in collaboration with experts from internationally leading research centres for catalysis including the UK (CIC and UK Catalysis Hub at Harwell), the Netherlands (MCEC, Utrecht) and Germany (FHI, Berlin).

Katie Morton
Katie is a second year PhD student based at RCaH, working in Dr Alex O’Malley’s group at the University of Bath and with Dr Jeff Armstrong at the ISIS neutron and muon source. Her research involves studying the behaviour of model lignin derived compounds with acidic zeolite catalysts with the wider view of transforming lignin into more valuable commodity chemicals, as a more sustainable alternative to crude oil.

Monik Panchal
Multiscale imaging and in situ studies for the investigation of industrially relevant materials. Involved in a collaborative iCASE studentship with UCL and Johnson Matthey. The project is based on multi scale imaging for the investigation of catalysts, where primary research will be conducted at the UK Catalyst Hub, Oxfordshire. Particularly, this project involves atomic scale analysis using high resolution TEM instruments at the ePSIC centre, Harwell and synchrotron based XAS, to characterised on industrially relevant materials provided by Johnson Matthey.

Jay Pritchard
Jay completed his Masters in Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, and has a background in Fischer-Tropsch Catalysis. He joined the Cat Hub in 2017 as a PhD student to study the manipulation of Fischer-Topsch catalysts for selectivity control, utilising XRD-CT to study catalysts In-Situ. Supervised by Prof. Andy Beale, the project is a collaboration with BP.

Vainius Skukauskas
Vainius joined the UK Catalysis Hub in 2019 via a facilities development PhD studentship, sponsored jointly by the University of Glasgow and ISIS Neutron & Muon Source. His research involves the use of neutron and x-ray spectroscopic techniques in order to study the partial oxidation of methane over metal loaded zeolites; with a wider pursuit of optimising a direct methane-to-methanol conversion. Vainius is co-supervised by Dr Emma Gibson of University of Glasgow and Dr Ian Silverwood of the ISIS Neutron & Muon Source.

Edward Stacey
For the duration of his project, Edward has been investigating microporous zeolite and ALPO lattice energies using a variety of computational methods including intermolecular forces study, and Density Functional Theory (DFT) and then compared to experimental energies found in the literature. He is now revisiting work done in the late 1980/90s on modelling water molecules within the pores of H-ZSM5 using DFT but with larger ordered systems and will lead on to a section of work based on modelling solvated systems. He is also using Quantum Mechanical and Molecular Mechanical (QM/MM) hybrid methods to investigate metal doped acid sites of ZSM5 with metal ions in their most accessible electronic states to assess their stability and potential effectiveness in catalysed reactions. 

Sebastian Stockenhuber
Sebastian Stockenhuber is a PhD student studying under Prof. Andrew Beale and Prof. Gopinathan Sankar at UCL. His project is based around investigation of the failure of industrial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts in Low Temperature Water Gas Shift reactors and determining the role of water in its deactivation. The industrial sponsor for the project is Yara International ASA, a Norwegian-based company specializing in agricultural products, and will involve collaboration with the UCL campus in Bloomsbury, London and the Catalysis Hub in the Harwell Research Campus.

Sam Wallbridge 
Sam is a second year PhD student and SCI Sydney Andrew’s Scholar working with Professor Sandie Dann, Dr Jamieson Christie and Dr Jonathan Wagner as part of Loughborough Universities multidisciplinary mini-CDT programme, “SlowCat”. The aim of his project is to provide an energy efficient means of separating biobutanol from low concentration, aqueous fermentation streams and upgrading the material into valuable chemicals using careful catalyst design. 

Zhaoyue Weng 
Zhaoyue Weng is a first-year PhD student majoring Chemistry in University College London. He joined Prof. Andrew Beale’s group in 2021. He obtained his B.E. degree in Materials Science and Engineering in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China and M.E. degree in the same area in University of New South Wales, Australia. His project is focused on Nickel supported on perovskite materials for dry reforming of methane.

Jun Xian 
Jun Xian completed his Masters at UCL, completing a joint XPS/DFT project under prof. Robert Palgrave, before taking a year off for the pandemic and joining the Beale group in 2021. His PhD project furthers his interest in spectroscopy and analytical techniques, aiming to help develop optical methods for characterising catalysts.

Yiyi Xu
Yiyi Xu is a first year PhD student based at RCaH, working in Prof. Andrew Beale’s group at UCL. Her research involves studying the in situ catalyst behavior for the investigation of industrially relevant reaction-propane dehydrogenation. The project is based on atomic-scale structure and peoperty analysis and structure-activity relationship exploration for catalysts using high resolution TEM instruments and synchrotron based XAS, to develop promising well-performing catalysts for PDH reaction.

Xinyue Zhou
Xinyue Zhou is a PhD student based at RCaH studying under Dr Christopher Parlett’s group at University of Manchester. Xinyue’s PhD will develop catalytic materials with optimal utilisation of rare and expensive platinum group metals by developing and applying sub-nanometre active species spanning angstrom-sized clusters to single-atom sites. He will produce catalysts designed for biomass valorisation to chemicals, the sustainable route to carbon-based commodity chemicals, monomers, and fine chemicals, while being conscious of their economic and environmental impact.

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