Although a young research group, we have already developed a history of supporting young researchers, with students joining us on schemes as diverse as Erasmus and the Sheffield SURE scheme, as well as the various Master’s courses offered by the department. Here, you can see the variety of people and projects undertaken since the group’s conception in 2015.


Dr Kezia Sasitharan (PhD student, 2017-2020)

Kezia joined the group under the award of a prestigious University of Sheffield, Faculty of Science, Doctoral Academy Scholarship. She completed her MSc at Christ University, Bangalore after being awarded her BSc from the University of Madras, Chennai. During her doctoral studies, she worked in collaboration with Prof. David Lidzey (Department of Physics) and Dr Ahmed Iraqi to develop MON-polymer composites for next-generation solar cells.

Kezia now works as an independent research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics in Prague, Czech Republic.

Dr Dave Ashworth (PhD Student and PDRA, 2016-2020)

Dave completed his MChem at the University of Sheffield, in 2016. His Masters project was co-supervised by Jona and Prof. Lee Brammer, and he stayed on to work with Dr Foster as the group’s first PhD student. His doctoral research centred around the development and chemical understanding of 2D MON paddle-wheel structures and their syntheses. Dave then stayed with us as a post-doc to demonstrate the scale-up of paddle-wheel nanosheet systems.

Having finally managed to escape, Dave now works as a post-doctoral associate at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Melissa Townsend (Summer student, 2020)

Melissa joined us during the summer of her third year in Sheffield. She worked with Mike, with the aim of identifying favourable interactions between common two-dimensional materials and polymers in the scientific literature, so as to improve our understanding of how to design these composites.

Shangari Kalaichelvan (MRes, 2019-2020)

Shangari joined us as part of her MRes degree and worked alongside Freya. Her aim was to investigate the use of ZIF-based nanosheets with varying surface properties for potential separation applications.

Toby Goodall-Munroe (MChem, 2019-2020)

Toby spent his fourth year research project working with Ram. His research focused on developing unique organic linkers, then incorporating them into novel nanosheet systems.

Joel Parkins (Summer student and MChem, 2019-2020)

Joel initially joined the group as a summer student funded by the Royal Society of Analytical Chemistry, working with Josh to study the post-synthetic functionalisation of his MONs with aldehydes. Joel then stayed in the group for his master’s project, working with Mike to study polymeric PSF of MONs.

Dr Justin Driver (PDRA, 2019-20)

Justin joined us for three months after completing his PhD in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemical Engineering with Prof. Peter Styring. Justin’s research in the group centred on experimentally demonstrating the scaled-up synthesis of a candidate MON, and evaluating its commercial potential by conducting a technoeconomic assessment. He now holds a PDRA position at Imperial College London.


Saleh Sahbi (Nuffield student, 2019)

Saleh joined us a part of the Nuffield foundation scheme. He spent four weeks working with Josh to study the exfoliation of his amino-functionalised nanosheets in different solvent systems, aiming to identify common trends between the best performers.

Holly McKenzie-Barnes (SURE student, 2019)

Holly worked alongside Josh to secure an RSC summer student bursary to fund her SURE placement here in the group. Holly’s research focused on developing new routes towards functionalising the MONs developed by Josh, as well as investigating methods to improve the extent of functionalisation.

Millie Cvjetkovic (MChem, 2018-19)

Due to her interests in sustainability, Millie worked with Kezia on her solar cells devices. She focused on tuning the band gap of MONs in MON-polymer composites for these next-generation solar cells. She has now gone on to be a member of the nuclear graduates program.

George Danczuk (MChem, 2018-19)

George spent his final year research project working with Josh on his sensing systems. George focused on developing ultrathin nanosheets that could be used to investigate both mono- and multi-dentate binding to MON surfaces for sensing applications.

Leonard Krupnik (Erasmus MChem, 2018-19)

Leo joined the group as a visiting Erasmus Masters student, from the University of Heidelburg, Germany. He worked with Dave in collaboration with Dr Rob Dawson’s group, on incorporating MONs within polymer membranes.


Samantha Gautier (Erasmus, 2018)

Sam joined us from the Lycée Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (ENCPB), Paris, on a 2-month Erasmus scheme. She worked with Josh, with a focus on using NMR spectroscopy to monitor and optimise reaction conditions for his different MOF systems.

Yu-Ting (Carrie) Chen (MSC, 2018)

Carrie joined the department after completing her BSc in Taiwan. She worked in collaboration with Dr Rob Dawson’s group, in order to create new MON-polymer composites to use for membranes.


Jose Joaquin Arnaudas (MSc, 2018)

Joaquin joined the department after the completion of his BSc at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain. He worked on a collaborative project with Dr Patrick Smith, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, to develop reactive inkjet printing.

Jonny Gregg (SURE Student, summer 2018) 

Dave was awarded SURE (Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience) Scheme funding for a summer student, and Jonny worked with him to create an in-house synthetic library of layered MOFs. Jonny completed his third-year in the USA before returning for the summer project, and finished his MChem with Dr Marco Conte, before going on to study for a PhD with Prof. Andrew Slark.

josh KJoshua King (MChem, 2017-2018)

For the final year of his MChem studies, Josh undertook our first foray into cobalt-based nanosheets. He developed a series of halogenated layered MOFs and investigated how these could be made into 2D nanosheets.

Thomas Corbett (MChem, 2017-2018)tom C #2

Tom used our “hydrophilic” Cu-MOF (see DOI: 10.1039/C6CC05154E) as a model compound to compare different top-down exfoliative methodologies. After leaving us, he is rejoining Pfizer, who he worked for on his Year in Industry.

jen W.pngJennifer Warwick (MChem, 2017-2018)

Jen worked on a collaborative project with Prof. Mike Ward,  investigating supramolecular cages developed by the Ward group and potentially increasing their catalytic applicability.


Mollie Trueman (Placement Student, Summer 2017)mollie

Mollie graduated from The University of Cambridge with a MSc, and worked with us through the summer to gain some lab-based work experience. She collected data comparing the exfoliation of hydrophilic and hydrophobic MOFs into solvents with differing properties (DOI: 10.1002/chem.201803221). After leaving us, she took a year out to assess options, and is starting a PhD at the University of Manchester in September 2018.

Jiawen Zhang (MSc, 2017)

Jiawen joined the group after completing his BSc in Tsinghau, China. He worked on the post-exfoliative functionalisation of MONs. He was awarded a PhD position at the University of Oxford, which he started immediately after leaving us.

Mariam Yazbek (Erasmus Student, Spring 2017) mariam

Mariam came to Sheffield on a 2-month Erasmus scheme, from Lycée Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (ENCPB), Paris. She worked on the synthesis and purification of organic ligands functionalised with long aliphatic chains.

adam CAdam Cooper (MChem, 2016-2017)

Adam developed our SOP for ultrasonic exfoliation, and systematically investigated the effect of solvent on the exfoliation of layered MOFs with hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties (see DOI: 10.1002/chem.201803221). After leaving us, he joined a graduate programme working within the defence sector.

Max Flint (MChem, 2016-2017) max f

Max functionalised a basic organic linker ligand with a series of aliphatic chains, in order to assess the effect this may have on the exfoliation after incorporation into layered MOFs. After his studies, he took a well-earned gap-year in order to “find himself” and get a semi-decent tan.


liam.jpgLiam Smith (Sheffield SURE Student, Summer 2016)

Liam was the group’s first summer student, who worked with Jona on the synthesis of layered MOFs, and developed the ultrasonic exfoliative technique we use today (DOI: 10.1002/chem.201803221).

Irene Dominguez Bernáldez (MSc, 2015-2016)irene

Irene joined the group after her BSc at the University of Seville, Spain, and was the first student solely supervised by Dr Foster. She synthesised a series of functionalised organic linkers with varying length alkyl chains and incorporated them into MOFs, in order to assess the effect on exfoliation potential.