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PhD studentship: Enzyme discovery for clean hydrogen production and green chemistry applications.


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Thursday 29 June 2023
Reference:  ENG1649

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD Studentship at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, to work with Dr Simone Morra. The position is expected to commence in October, December, or February (subject to date of application).

The project will explore the diversity of hydrogenases and will aim at discovering and characterising novel enzymes with improved performances. These enzymes catalyse key steps in hydrogen metabolism in numerous microorganisms and will be exploited to develop new sustainable processes for H2 production. Currently, industrial applications are limited by the fact that only a small number of these enzymes have been studied, and this restricts the “catalogue” of enzymes available for any given application. Innovative hydrogen production technologies will be essential to decarbonising the global economy and there is potential to develop novel biotechnological processes. 

The main aims of this PhD project are: 1) to significantly expand the toolbox of available enzymes to be exploited for H2 technologies; 2) to investigate structure/function mechanisms and provide a comprehensive view of the diversity of [FeFe]-hydrogenases; 3) to explore unconventional reactivity that can be exploited in green chemistry processes, including applying protein engineering methods to tailor the enzyme to specific reactions.

The student will work within the interdisciplinary Sustainable Process Technologies research group in Nottingham, with access to state-of-the-art facilities (, and will have the opportunity to collaborate with other research institutions in the UK and overseas.

Entry requirements: Applicants must have, or should expect to obtain, a 1st class or 2:1 honours degree or a distinction or high merit at MSc level (or international equivalents) in Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Chemistry or related disciplines. Experience in protein chemistry or structural biology (e.g. a placement or a Masters-level research project) will be beneficial.

Funding notes: This PhD position is funded for 3 years. Due to funding restrictions, the studentship is only available for applicants eligible for UK home fees ( This project will include the payment of tuition fees as well as a stipend equivalent to RCUK rates (currently at £17,668 p.a. tax free for 2022/23) awarded to the suitable candidate.

Application process: To make an informal enquiry or an application, please contact Dr Simone Morra directly ( with a cover letter and a CV. 

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the position will be filled as soon as a suitable person has been found; candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The Faculty of Engineering provides a thriving working environment for all PGRs creating a strong sense of community across research disciplines. Community and research culture is important to our PGRs and the FoE support this by working closely with our Postgraduate Research Society (PGES) and our PGR Research Group Reps to enhance the research environment for PGRs. PGRs benefit from training through the Researcher Academy’s Training Programme, those based within the Faculty of Engineering have access to bespoke courses developed for Engineering PGRs. including sessions on paper writing, networking and career development after the PhD. The Faculty has outstanding facilities and works in partnership with leading industrial partners. 


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