A Mobile Robotic Chemist for Reaction Optimisation (ICASE studentship with AstraZeneca)


This opportunity will remain open until the position has been filled and so early applications are encouraged.

A fully funded PhD studentship is available in collaboration with AstraZeneca.

In this project, you will build on our recent work on intelligent mobile robotic chemists (Nature 2020583, 237–241, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-53029854) to develop a smart, connected automated workflow for reaction optimisation. The overall aim will be to create a unique and flexible approach to accelerate active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) development by leveraging the state-of-the-art in artificial intelligence, chemistry automation, and robotics.

The project will be supervised by Prof. Andy Cooper (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/cooper-group/) and Dr John Ward. You will have access to unique facilities in the state-of-the-art Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/materials-innovation-factory) and will be part of a multi-disciplinary team at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/leverhulme-research-centre/) working with computational chemists, synthetic chemists, and also engineers and computer scientists developing the use of robots in the Autonomous Chemistry Laboratory. The PhD will include a 3 month secondment to AstraZeneca’s Macclesfield site (located approximately 1 hour by car from the University of Liverpool).

We are looking for candidates with an enthusiasm for research, multidisciplinary collaboration and tackling challenging problems through teamwork. Prior research experience (such as a Masters research project or equivalent) in organic synthesis is desirable. Ideally, the candidate will have strong programming abilities (e.g., in Python, Java), but an interest in programming and a willingness to learn are essential. You do not need to have experience with robotics – the necessary skills will be taught during the PhD.

The position is available from 1st October 2022.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a good degree (equivalent to a UK First or Upper Second Class degree) in Chemistry or a related discipline.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact either John Ward (email: ) or Andy Cooper (email: ).

To apply for this opportunity please visit: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/ and click on the 'Ready to apply? Apply online' button. Please include Curriculum Vitae, Two reference letters, Degree Transcripts to date.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The studentship will cover full tuition fees at the UK rate and pay a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (£15,609 p.a. with predicted annual increase) and is in collaboration with AstraZeneca. Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome – please refer to the EPSRC website: View Website Non-UK applicants may have to contribute to the higher non-UK tuition fees.