Research Associates

photo of Reza AbbasiReza Abbasi; r.abbasi@ucl.ac.uk
Dr. Reza Abbasi (AMIChemE) is a Research Associate who is currently working on process systems engineering approach towards catalytic process design under supervision of Prof. Asterios Gavriilidis and Dr. Federico Galvanin and in collaboration with a group of scientists from UCL, UK Catalysis Hub, University of Leeds, University of Durham and University of Oxford. He is a part of the UK Catalysis Hub, as a member of the Optimising, predicting and designing new catalysts theme based at both the UCL and the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH). This is Reza’s first post-doctoral role after he has obtained his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Malaysia in 2019. His Ph.D. thesis was on dynamic process modelling and intelligent control of ethylene polymerization in fluidized bed reactors. His research interests include all areas of process systems engineering including process design, process modelling, process optimization, process control, and process integration as well applications of Artificial Intelligence in Chemical Engineering.

Arsalan Ashraf photoArsalan Ashraf; maa228@bath.ac.uk
Dr. Arsalan Ashraf completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering (2015) from Politecnico di Torino (Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Vito Specchia and Prof. Stefania Specchia. During doctoral and postdoctoral research in the same institution, his research was focused on process modelling and development of structured catalytic reactors in the framework of Italian Project IFOAMS (Catalytic Process Intensification for Clean Energy, Low Emission Transportation and Sustainable Chemistry by using Open Cell Foams as new advanced materials). In October 2015, he joined Prof. Jack Fletcher’s group in HySA/Catalysis centre at University of Cape Town (South Africa) and conducted high throughput experimentation using “16 parallel fixed bed reactor system – Avantium” to evaluate intrinsic kinetics of heterogeneous catalysts for methane steam reforming. In April 2016, Arsalan joined the research groups of Dr Pawel Plucinski, Prof. Davide Mattia, and Dr Darrel Patterson at University of Bath (United Kingdom), and conducted research in the fields of catalysis & reaction engineering and separation processes in the framework of EPSRC funded project “Terpene-based Manufacturing for Sustainable Chemical Feedstocks”. Now, he is working with Dr Pawel Plucinski, Prof. Semali Parera, and Dr Emma Emanuelsson on the synthesis of catalytic/photocatalytic magnetic nanoparticles for magneto-responsive membranes in the scientific theme of “Catalysis at the Water and Energy Nexus” of UK Catalysis Hub. With a focus to develop novel process technologies from concept to an integrated solution, his research interests are catalyst scale-up: powder to a structured catalysts/reactors, process intensification, and design & development of chemical processes.

photo of MDelarmelinaMaicon Delarmelina; delarmelinam@cardiff.ac.uk
Dr Maicon Delarmelina attained his PhD in 2018 from Fluminense Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Shortly after, he was granted a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the same group by the Carlos Chagas Filho Foundation for Research Support of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) to investigate new Frustrated Lewis Pairs containing N-heterocyclic carbenes for the activation of small molecules and hydrogenation of CO2. In February 2019 he joined the group of Prof Richard Catlow at Cardiff University as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate and is currently investigating by state-of-the art DFT calculations new zirconia-based catalyst for upgrading bio-oils obtained from hydrothermal treatment of wastewater solids. The main goal of this project is to develop more efficient catalytic systems for the production of biofuels and added-value chemicals from wastewater biomass. Different aspects of zirconia will be explored at atomic scale (ambient pressure phases, distinct facets, doped-ZrO2, and metal-supported ZrO2) to aid identifying and rationalizing distinct catalytic performances. For this purpose, computational approaches will be used to investigate effects of structure and chemical modifications of ZrO2 on the acidity and basicity of these materials, as well as their catalytic performance towards the transformation of bio-oil model molecules.

photo of W DlaminiWilliam Dlamini; DlaminiM@cardiff.ac.uk
Dr William M. Dlamini completed his PhD (2016) in the School of Chemistry, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, working on a project entitled; “Spherical carbons as model supports for Fe, Co and Fe-Co Fischer-Tropsch catalysts”. The project was funded by the Centre of Excellence in Catalysis (c*change) and was done in collaboration with the University of Cape Town. Dlamini then did his Postdoctoral Fellowship with Prof. Neil Coville (2017 – 2018) at the same institution, focusing on the preparation multifunctional core-shell catalysts aimed at a tandem process involving the synthesis of hydrocarbons and their secondary hydrocracking on other active sites of the same catalyst. At present, William is based at Cardiff University working with Prof. Graham Hutchings, Prof. Phil Davis and Prof. Chris Hardacre (Manchester), on a project entitled “High salinity resistant catalysts for the destruction of organics in produced waters”. This project aims to advance the understanding of solardriven wastewater treatment protocols by studying them under rather harsh reaction conditions.

photo of MJHMichael Higham; HighamM@cardiff.ac.uk
Michael Higham completed a PhD in Chemical Science and Technology at the Institut Català d’Investigació Química (ICIQ, Catalan Institute of Chemical Research) in November 2017. Michael joined Prof. Richard Catlow’s group at Cardiff University in August 2018, supported by the GCRF (Global Challenges Research Fund). Michael’s work forms part of the START (Synchotron Techniques for African Research and Technology) project, providing computational insights to support experimental work utilising the synchrotron facilities at Diamond. Michael’s current research project concerns Cu-based catalysts for methanol synthesis from CO2. 

photo of Abraham Nieva de la HidalgaAbraham Nieva de la Hidalga; NievadelaHidalgaA@cardiff.ac.uk
Abraham Nieva de la Hidalga received his PhD from the School of Computer Science of the University of Manchester (UK) in 2010. After his PhD, he collaborated as a research assistant at the Manchester Business School on two projects. In COMMIUS, he participated in the development of a JAVA/OSGI based e-commerce mail filtering system. In SOA4ALL, he helped documenting common workflow patterns to support end-users building web-service mashups (ad-hoc workflows). In 2012, he joined the Biodiversity Informatics Research group at the Cardiff University School of Computer Science and Informatics, as research associate in the BioVeL project. After BioVeL, in 2015, he obtained a scholarship (CONACYT-Mexico) for a postdoctoral project developing a virtual biotechnology laboratory at Polytechnic University of Puebla, building on his work at BioVeL. He returned to the Cardiff University School of Computer Science and Informatics (2016), as research associate in the Data and Knowledge Engineering Group, collaborating in ENVRIplus and ICEDIG. In ENVRIplus, he analysed and modelled large-scale systems for environmental research. In ICEDIG, he documented quality management standards and methods for specimen’s digitisation workflows and rapid 3D digitisation; oversaw cloud platforms testing for data storage; researched semantic image segmentation; and built a prototype interface for a digital specimen repository. He joins the UK Catalysis Hub Team as a research associate in data management and software development.

Santhosh Matam photo

Santhosh Matam; s.matam@ucl.ac.uk
Santhosh Kumar Matam received his doctorate from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and subsequently moved as a scientist to Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology (Empa). Santhosh joined Prof. C. Richard A. Catlow’s group at the University College London and UK Catalysis Hub, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in September 2016 as a research associate. Santhosh’s research activities are primarily centred on in situ/operando spectroscopy for deriving catalyst structure-activity relationships. This knowledge can be used as a rational guide to develop inorganic solid materials for energy and environmental applications which include carbon neutral renewable energy and exhaust after-treatment technologies. He is also interested in operando reactors that allow real operation of chemical processes without intrinsic limitations. Santhosh designed and taught lab courses for graduate and postgraduates.

Yaro Odarchenko photo

Yaroslav Odarchenko; yaroslav.odarchenko@rc-harwell.ac.uk
Yaroslav received his PhD in 2012 from Strasbourg University where he studied materials under nanoconfinment using synchrotron radiation facilities (ESRF, DESY and BNL). After 3 years of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research and Royal Holloway University of London where he designed, built and tested new experimental platforms for the advanced characterisation of functional materials and biomolecular systems, he joined the AMB group at the UCL in 2016 to work on the EPSRC project focused on the developing of novel catalysts for the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. He is using grazing incidence X-ray scattering and spectroscopy (XAS/XPS) techniques to probe the supported metallic nanoparticles in real-time under reaction conditions.

Xiaoxia Ou photo

Xiaoxia Ou; xiaoxia.ou@manchester.ac.uk
Xiaoxia completed her PhD (2017) in Dr. Xiaolei Fan’s group from the school of chemical engineering and analytical science, the University of Manchester. Xiaoxia’s PhD project included: 1) developing hieratically structured catalysts based on cellular silicon carbide foams; 2) demonstrating the application of the developed catalysts for environmental catalysis. After her PhD, she stayed in the same research group as a research associate for one year, studying the catalytic bio-oils upgrading by hierarchical catalysts. From December 2018, Xiaoxia has been a research associate in the same department in the University of Manchester and UK Catalysis Hub, under the supervision of Prof. Chris Hardacre. Currently, her research interest focuses on heterogeneous catalysis for environmental applications and she is working on the project “Treatment of high ionic strength wastewater”. Severe water shortage and water pollution have addressed the issue of clean water, demanding the development of efficient catalysts in wastewater treatment field for water reuse.

Matthew Quesne photoMatthew Quesne; QuesneM@cardiff.ac.uk
Dr. Matthew Quesne undertook a PhD at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology under the supervision of Dr Sam de Visser, in the fields of bio-mimetic and enzyme catalysis. He focused on modelling the catalytic activity of synthetic complexes of transition metal dependent homogeneous catalysts. Over the four years spent at Manchester he worked with dozens of different experimental groups and provided the in silico components to many joint computational/experimental studies. He joined the research group headed by Dr Tomasz Borowski at the Institute of Catalysis and Surface Chemistry Polish Academy of Science in Krakow (Poland) in November 2014, where he spent two years using MD, QM/MM and cluster model techniques to model enzyme catalysed reaction mechanisms. In 2016, he moved to Cardiff to work in Prof. Catlow’s group where he studied CO2 activation on a variety of transition metal carbides. This work formed a small part of a much larger EPSRC project that aimed to bring together several groups from across the UK in a multi-disciplinary fashion in order to develop integrated techniques for utilising CO2 as a feedstock for the production of fuels and fine chemicals. Matthew started his position with the UK Catalysis Hub in March of 2019 and is focused on the intersection of the modelling of heterogenously and homogenously catalysed reaction mechanisms.

Nitya Ramanan photoNitya Ramanan; RamananN@cardiff.ac.uk
Nitya received her Doctorate in Physics from Homi Bhabha National Institute in India, where she used XAFS to analyze disordered nanoclusters in a variety of configurations. During the course of her Ph.D., she was also actively involved in the augmentation of the XAFS beamlines in the Indian synchrotron, Indus-2, for extreme thermodynamic conditions, viz. low temperature and high pressure. She subsequently joined the Core Level Absorption and Emission Spectroscopies (CLAESS) beamline at the Spanish national Synchrotron source, ALBA, as a post-doctoral research associate at where her activities involved providing scientific and technical support to beamline users for x-ray absorption and emission experiments, contributing towards the development of the beamline. Her research projects involved understanding the structure-property correlations in advanced functional materials, in particular, shape memory alloys and high Tc superconductors, using XAFS. Her tenure as a PDRA sparked her interest in the extensive applications of XAFS in catalysis and led to the initiation of her collaborations in this field. Nitya now works as an Experimental Officer for the Catalysis Hub, and has taken over the running of the hub’s BAG (Block Allocation Group) beamtimes at Diamond.

Yiping Shi photoYiping Shi; yiping.shi@durham.ac.uk
Dr. Yiping Shi (Sherry) comes from China and completed the MSci degree in Chemistry with one year industrial placement in the University of Bristol. She then completed her PhD (2018) in Chemistry in the University of St. Andrews, working under the supervision of Prof. Paul Kamer and Prof. David Cole-Hamilton. Her PhD research covers organic synthesis, homogeneous catalysis and organometallic chemistry, and was focused on the development of new catalytic routes for the production of value-added materials, such as polymer precursors and pharmaceutical drugs from waste biomass (eg. tall oil and cashew nut shell liquid). After her PhD, she then worked on two industrial projects under the supervision of Dr. Paul Webb in the same department, concentrated on the heterogeneous catalysis to convert food waste into value-added materials using mainly flow systems. On the 1st of July she became a postdoctoral research associate in the University of Durham, working under the supervision of Dr. Phil Dyer (Durham) and Prof. Andrew Weller (Oxford) on a project entitled “Cascade catalysis: bio-derived butanol to propene via dehydration and metathesis.”

Cristina Stere photoChristina Stere; cristina.stere@manchester.ac.uk
Dr Christina completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2012 from the Queen’s University Belfast under the supervision of Prof Alex Goguet and Prof Chris Hardacre on the development and application of a spatially resolved technique for the investigation of structured catalysts under real reaction conditions. She then continued as a PDRA at the same university working on plasma assisted reactions for automotive emission control coupled with developing state of the art spatially resolved techniques and DRIFT-MS system to allow in-situ studies of heterogeneous catalysts in the presence of plasma. She is currently working at the University of Manchester in the group of Prof. Chris Hardacre. Her current project looks at scalable production of high purity hydrogen through Water Gas Shift using a hybrid non-thermal plasma process and further development of in-situ DRIFTS technique for plasma reactions.

Shaojun Xu photo

Shaojun Xu; shaojun.xu@manchester.ac.uk
Dr Shaojun Xu did his PhD as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Research Fellow at the University of Manchester (UoM) under the supervision of Prof Philip Martin and Prof Christopher Whitehead. His project was concerned with understanding the mechanism of plasma-catalysis for C1 compounds using in situ spectroscopic methods. His work in Plasma-Catalysis was recognised by the International Plasma Chemistry Society (IPCS) and he was awarded the IPCS scholarship. In September 2017, he joined Prof Martin Schröder’s group in the School of Chemistry, University of Manchester as a postdoctoral research associate. He was interested in the potential of a genuine utilisation of the pore structures and porosity of MOFs in heterogeneous catalysis. From September 2019, he will join Prof Richard Catlow FLSW FRS’s group at Cardiff University and the UK Catalysis Hub, and also be part of the research groups of Dr E. Gibson, Dr I. Silverwood, Dr P Wells, Dr D. Gianolio, Prof A. Beale, Prof C. Hardacre and Dr T. Young, developing in situ and operando methods for establishing structure-function relationships in all areas of catalysis, both heterogeneous and homogeneous. He has particular interests to uncover the mechanistic details of chemical reactions that liberate energy and harness chemical potential, focusing on the innovation of reaction process and development of operando characterisation methods.

Kui Zhang photo

Kui Zhang; Kui.Zhang@newcastle.ac.uk
Dr. Kui Zhang earned Ph. D degree of Physical Chemistry at Nankai University, Tianjin, China in 1998. He was a Research Scientist/Engineer working on greenhouse gas conversion to hydrocarbon fuels by the combination of cold plasma and shape-selective catalysts at ABB Corporate Research Ltd, Baden-Daettwil, Switzerland (1999-2000). He worked as a research scientist at the Institute of Low Temperature Plasma Physics (INP), Greifswald, Germany (2000-2002). He worked as a post-doctoral research fellow working on cold plasma-assisted catalysis for the remediation of low concentration volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with Prof. Chris Whitehead at the Chemistry Department of The University of Manchester (2002-2006). He was in charge of research and new technology development at Plasma Clean Ltd. (2006-2009). He was a research fellow with Prof. Chris Hardacre and Dr. Gary Sheldrake at School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of Queen’s university Belfast (2009-2010). Then, he was a research associate at the Newcastle University, working on FP7-EU-project COPIRIDE (Combining Process Intensification-driven Manufacture of Microstructured Reactors and Process Design regarding Industrial Dimensions and Environment) and PolyCat (Modern Polymer-Based Catalysts and Microflow Conditions as Key Elements of Innovations in Fine Chemical Synthesis) with Prof. Galip Akay (2010-2013), and EPSRC Supergen Bioenergy Hub projects (combustion emissions & gasification tar reduction using non-thermal plasma technologies) with Prof. Adam Harvey (2013-2018). In recent years, he has been working on thermal and non-thermal plasma chemistry, catalysis chemistry, and reactor engineering. He got experience in plasma power source unit design and optimization, plasma/chemical reactor design and scale-up. He has interests in the development of new technologies from concept to reaction engineering by the integration of cold plasma, catalysis and process intensification. Currently, he a research associate at school of engineering of Newcastle University, he is working on cold plasma promoted catalytic processes for organic sludge valorisation to fuels and chemicals by the integration of cold plasma and catalysts with Prof. Adam Harvey.

Yibo Zeng photo

Yibo Zeng; ZengY14@cardiff.ac.uk
Dr. Yibo Zeng completed her PhD (2009) from Department of Chemistry, the University of Hong Kong on the projects: 1) The histidine- and glutamine-rich Hpn-like protein in Helicobacter pylori; 2). The mechanism of inhibiting urease activities by bismuth compounds. Then she joined Prof. Chi-Ming Che’s group in the same department as a research associate, studying the attenuation of Wnt-β catenin pathway in human cancer cells by ruthenium compounds. In 2012, she changed her research area from biological chemistry to immunology, and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University (USA) in Prof. Thomas J. August’s group. The focus of her research included the construction of novel HIV-DNA vaccines, and with the help of lysosome-associated membrane proteins (LAMP), the antigenic peptide epitopes of proteins could be delivered to helper (CD4) T-cells to enhance the humoral and cellular immune responses. At present, she is now a postdoctoral research associate of Cardiff University, UK Catalysis Hub and University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Graham Hutchings (Cardiff) and Prof. Benjamin Davis (Oxford), on the project ‘Exploring model systems for applying catalysis inside living systems with a view to medical application’.

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