The Group

We are a multi-disciplinary and multinational group, working together to combine our collective knowledge and experiences in order to facilitate research of the highest quality. We also aim to provide a great group working experience for all involved – from undergraduate summer research students to post-doctoral researchers.

Dr Jonathan Foster


Dr Jonathan Foster (Jona – pronounced “John-ah”) graduated with an MChem from the University of Durham in 2008, where he also completed a PhD in the groups of Prof. Jonathan Steed and Prof. Judith Howard CBE FRS. He undertook post-doctoral positions at the University of Cambridge in the groups of Prof. Jonathan Nitschke and Prof. Anthony Cheetham FRS. In 2015 he was awarded a Ramsay Memorial Trust Fellowship and the position of Vice Chancellors Fellow which he heldin the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield where he is now a lecturer. Jona has experience working with a wide range of nano-structured and supramolecular materials including gels, polymers, cages and frameworks.


Ram Prasad R R (2019-2022)

Ram obtained his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Kerala, then joining the National Institute of Technology, Trichy for his master’s, where he completed a final year project under the guidance of Dr. S. Anandan on manganese oxide/graphene nanocomposites for supercapacitor applications. He went on to complete a PhD at the University of St. Andrews under the supervision of Prof. Paul Wright and Prof. Matt Clarke, where he investigated the use of metal-organic frameworks for tandem catalysis. Now in the Foster group, Ram is working on designing and functionalising novel MONs for advanced catalysis applications.

PhD Students

Joshua Nicks (2017-2021)

Josh studied for his his MChem at the University of Sheffield, completing his master’s project under the supervision of Dr Peter Portius, synthesising highly-energetic, nitrogen-rich silicon compounds using highly air-sensitive techniques. His PhD research project with Jona focuses on developing new methods for making functional MONs, by tuning their chemistry through design. He aims to use these techniques to develop novel MON systems for sensing and catalysis.

Charlotte Kiker (2017-2021)

Charlotte is working under the co-supervision of Prof. Jim Thomas. She also undertook her MChem in the department here at Sheffield, and completed her master’s project under Prof. Beining Chen. She is a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) within the department, so spends a lot of her time teaching and demonstrating in the undergraduate labs. Her research aims to develop MONS capable of sensing DNA.

Freya Cleasby (2018-2022)

Freya completed her MChem here in Sheffield under the supervision of Prof. Lee Brammer, working on flexible metal-organic frameworks. She is part of the CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids and her industrially sponsored research aims to incorporate MONs within membranes.

Michael Harris (2018-2022)

Mike was awarded an MChem from the University of Sheffield, working under the supervision of Dr Rob Dawson on synthesising microporous polymers. He continues his work with polymers as part of the Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids CDT, developing new MON-polymer composite materials in collaboration with his sponsor.

Millie Wood (2019-2023)

Millie completed her Masters’ degree working in Dr Sarah Staniland’s group at the University of Sheffield.  Her master’s project was focused on using phage display to identify a peptide for biotemplating of L1o phase FePt. Now working with Jona, Millie’s research continues to be bio-inspired – designing MONs to function as sensors for biologically relevant molecules and macromolecules.

Benedict Smith (2020-2024)

Benedict Smith was awarded his MSc with distinction in green chemistry and sustainable industrial technology by the University of York in 2020. In the same year, he begins study for his PhD at the University of Sheffield co-supervised by Dr Adrien Chauvet and Dr Jonathan Foster. His research is a joint synthetic and spectroscopic study of the enhancement of the selectivity of graphene-based sensors by the addition of metal organic nanosheets for the real-time detection of phosphate and other small molecules in soil.

Jiangtian Tan (2020-2024)

Jiangtian completed his MSc at the University of Sheffield, under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Foster. In 2020, he comes back to the Foster group as a PhD student, working on Mixed Matrix Membranes composed of MONs and porous polymers for water purification
applications. In the same year, he joins the ​Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures​ (GCSF).

Sanyou Xu (2021-2025)

Sanyou obtained his master’s degree at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology before joining Jona’s group. He is now studying at the University of Sheffield as a PHD student under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Foster and Prof David Lidzey. His research focuses on modifying different 2D mons materials for making high-performance solar cells.

Master’s Students

Henry Lynch (MChem 2020-2021)

Henry is a fourth year MChem student, having spent his third year at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His research in Canada was around the anti-bacterial resistant drug, Daptomycin, using solid-phase peptide synthesis on macrobeads. Henry is now working alongside Ram on the synthesis of functionalised novel MONs for catalysis applications.

Oleta Norvilaite (MChem 2020-2021)

Oleta is a fourth year MChem student, having completed her third year project with Prof. Patrick Fowler exploring electronic 2D and 3D pi systems using Hückel theory. Now working alongside Millie, Oleta is working on post synthetic functionalisation of MONs for biosensing applications. 

Alana Barlow (MSc 2020-2021)

Alana was awarded her bachelors degree in Chemistry with Forensic Science before coming to Sheffield to do a research MSc degree. She is currently working alongside Mike on the post-synthetic functionalisation of ZIF nanosheets

Priyanka Chohan (RSC summer studentship, 2021)

Priyanka joined as a summer student funded by the RSC. She is working with Mike to combine polymers with MONs to create novel structures and understand their properties.

Josie Robins

Josie is studying for her MChem at the University of Sheffield and joined as a summer student under the SURE scheme. She is working with Mike to combine polymers with MONs to create novel structures and understand their properties.