Senior Research Assistant in Chemistry/Polymers

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Bio-sourced, bio-degradable polymers can be designed and synthesised to provide a stable and non-toxic environment in which micro-algae can be immobilised on a surface or scaffold, resulting in the creation of a biocomposite, capable of facilitating chemical transformations in solution.  

Northumbria University (Newcastle, City Centre Campus) are looking to appoint a Chemistry/Polymer Senior Research Assistant (PDRA) to work in the emerging field of ‘Bio-sourced, bio-degradable polymers for sustainable chemical processes’ under the supervision of Dr. Matt Unthank and Prof. Justin Perry (12 months, based within the Synthesis and Polymer Innovation group at Northumbria University, This is a multidisciplinary project spanning polymer chemistry, bioengineering and microbiology and the successful candidate will work closely with academics (and PDRA) at Newcastle University, as well as industrial researchers at Northumbria Water to deliver novel biocomposite systems for sustainable water purification.

The role will be predominately laboratory based and multi-disciplinary, combining (bio)polymer synthesis, synthetic chemistry, material characterisation and surface science, allowing the Researcher the opportunity to develop expertise across these diverse fields of science, supported by leading expert scientists from both Northumbria and Newcastle Universities. The PDRA will also gain experience in polymer scale-up and delivery of pilot field-trials, in collaboration with the industrial team at Northumbrian Water.

The appointed Researcher will help in the design and planning of the program of experimental work, will be responsible for execution of laboratory experiments and polymer scale-up trials, and will work closely with Newcastle University to support the construction of a pilot-scale biocomposite unit. The PDRA will be responsible for all polymer synthesis activities, data collection, analysis and for reporting of results to the project team. Experience in emulsion polymerisation, polymer synthesis and surface coatings would be beneficial.

This project is an excellent opportunity for a researcher with a PhD in chemistry, polymer science or related discipline (PRDA). The appointed person will be an integral part of the multidisciplinary research effort, developing their research and project management skills in the process. The successful candidate will be a highly motivated researcher with an excellent work ethic and drive to succeed. They will have previous experience of delivering a research project(s) (University or Industrial), writing technical reports to a high standard and presenting findings to colleagues and collaborators. They must be able to work and communicate effectively across a multi-disciplinary team and to deliver the project goals to a tight deadline.


PhD awarded (or nearing completion) in chemistry, polymer science or closely related discipline or other demonstrable equivalent experience in the conduct and delivery of R&D (for example, in an industrial or commercial  context).


Senior Research Assistant: £ 28,981 - 35,223 depending on experience

For informal questions or enquiries please contact Dr. Matt Unthank (

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • To deliver experimental results towards the development of biolatex polymers for sustainable chemical processes
  • Design and execute laboratory-based experiments in line with the project objectives to ensure delivery of project targets.
  • To undergo training in new practical skills including emulsion polymerisation, biocomposite design, water treatment, coating application, testing and analysis in order that suitable experiments are designed and executed.
  • To work as part of a multidisciplinary team of chemists, engineers, biologists and industrial partners.
  • To collect analytical data to facilitate the discovery process and to guide decision making in the development of novel biopolymers and biocomposites.
  • To collate, process and present analytical data in an appropriate fashion and using suitable IT tools (e.g. Excel) to facilitate progression of the project
  • To prepare presentations and deliver these to your immediate supervisor and the project team and to engage in scientific discussion on your research
  • To take full ownership of the research project, be self-motivated and driven toward delivery of a successful project outcome.
  • Develop strong collaborative research relationships with PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and academics working within your research area.
  • Write concise and accurate technical report for delivery to the project sponsor
  • Help prepare research findings and data for publication in refereed journals with the support of your supervisor.
  • To comply with all Health and Safety regulation and practices within Northumbria University
  • To complete chemical safety risk assessments (COSHH forms) in-line with the requirement of your role.
  • To work within a multidisciplinary team, to learn new skill and to deliver the project objectives to the best of your abilities. 

To apply for this vacancy please click 'Apply Now', and submit a covering letter, CV including research /education statements, and grants and publications list. Please highlight your highest quality research outputs up to a maximum of 4.  In addition, candidates are asked to provide copies of the top 2 research outputs (Journal / book chapter /practice-based portfolio). Where possible candidates are asked to combine all of these documents into a single file.

If you are successful in your application for this role, you will be employed by Northumbria University Services Limited.  Further details can be found at

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Northumbria University is an on-campus organisation where colleagues work regular patterns of hours and on campus, with some flexibility on the timing of their hours and the location of their work in discussion with their manager. 

Please note this vacancy will close on 04/09/2022

Further information

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