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Current Postgraduate Students


We are here to support you.

  • Are you feeling lonely?
  • Are you struggling with the work load?
  • Are you finding it difficult to settle in?
  • Would you like to just talk things over and get additional information?

The Departmental Postgraduate Student Support system provides another avenue of support for postgraduate students. We have agreed that each person in our team will:

  • provide support to any student who approaches them, in a sensitive and confidential way.*
  • listen, discuss and where possible assist students in working out how to solve any problem or difficulty presented to them.
  • if necessary, refer students which they are not trained to deal with to the place where there are experts available to help the student.

We may not necessarily know the best answer and are not trained counsellors but will do our utmost to help any student that approaches us.

*A note on confidentiality: in order for a member of the Departmental Support Team to best help or advise a student, it may be necessary for them to confidentially discuss the situation that has been presented with the Postgraduate Student Coordinator, which will routinely be done with the permission of the student. However, in the rare case of matters where a student or others may be at serious risk, we may need to take others into his or her confidence even when explicit permission has not been given.

Who are we?

We will be scheduling a lunch-time event in Michaelmas Term, at which you will be able to meet your Departmental Postgraduate Student Support Team. We strongly encourage you to attend: in the event that you need support during your time here, it will help you to identify who you may want to turn to before you actually need the help.

Nick Bampos

I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney before coming to Cambridge to work with Jeremy Sanders as a post-doc, enthused by the opportunity of working in one of the most highly regarded chemistry department in the world.  In addition to our research commitments, working with undergraduates and postgraduates is one of the privileges that makes the department such a stimulating environment in which to work.  Our postgraduate training programme and pastoral support network provides a supportive structure through which we can help our postgraduates make the most of their time in the department.  Through the experience I have gained as Senior Tutor, E&D Champion and Deputy Head of Department I want to be able to contribute to the support of the postgraduate community, not only as a tutor and academic, but perhaps more importantly as colleague.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Mehrnaz Behray

Prior to joining the Department of Chemistry in Summer 2019, I’ve experienced both postdoctoral and industrial research positions and have come to realise my strengths and enjoyment of project management in the academic environment. My research background is in nanochemistry with a focus on biomedical applications; I achieved my PhD at the University of East Anglia in 2016. Although I very much enjoyed the challenge of lab-based research, I wanted to work on projects with more immediate impacts. Working at SynTech CDT offers me this opportunity to help facilitate students learning experience within the department, whilst coordinating a large network of contacts to bring together the programme. I am more than happy to help students, in whatever way I can, to have the best experience possible during their time here.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Mike Casford

I am currently a Principal Research Associate in the department running a small research group looking at the spectroscopy of interfaces. After I left school I became self-employed for 15 years during the latter of which I studied chemistry with the Open University. After graduating I moved to Cambridge with my wife and 3 children in order to undertake a PhD with Prof. Paul Davies at Corpus Christi College, from which I graduated in 2005.  Following this I became a post doc, senior post doc and eventually PRA. I hope that given my non-traditional academic career path I can offer some alternative insights to the problems that inevitable arise whilst studying here in the Cambridge and offer support to anyone who wishes it.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Giulia Iadevaia

I studied chemistry at University La Sapienza of Rome and then I moved to Sheffield to do my PhD studies in the group of Prof Chris Hunter. When the group moved to Cambridge in 2014, I stayed in as a post doc and then as a lab manager, which is my current position. During my time as a student I have experienced first hand how stressful a PhD can be and as a senior member of the group I have often supported students and researchers during difficult moments of their studies. I am a qualified mental health first aider and I understand how crucial it is to have someone to talk. I would be more than happy to listen to anything that is on your mind and help you take that big load off your shoulders.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Sophie Jackson

I first studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and undertook a Part II project in electron transfer in metalloproteins. I started the year thinking my interest was in electron transfer and then ended it knowing I wanted to study proteins for my PhD. I started in Imperial College at the University of London and then moved, reluctantly, to Cambridge where my supervisor took a Chair in the Chemistry Department a year later.  I finished my PhD on protein folding and enzyme mechanisms in Cambridge and then became a Research Fellow in Peterhouse and continued the research I had begun in my postgraduate studies. I moved to the Chemistry Department in Harvard for two years where I was a postdoctoral scientist in the group of Stuart Schreiber, and then returned to the Chemistry Department here as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. This enabled me to establish an independent research group and led to me becoming a lecturer, senior lecturer, reader and professor.  I run a small research group that studies many different aspects of biological self assembly. I collaborate widely both within Cambridge, UK and with groups around the World.  In addition to the lecturing I do within the Department, I am a Fellow of Peterhouse where I am an Admissions Tutor.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Jo Lockhart

joined the Department of Chemistry in December 2013, initially working part-time for Professor Steve Ley and his research group.  She soon became full time, taking on the administration for Professor Jane Clarke and her research group.  In June 2015, she moved to become Assistant to Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian.  This is where she is now!  She is heavily involved with his research group.  During he time at the Department, she has worked with and supported quite a few students as they move through their postgraduate studies and have always been ready to listen and give advice when asked.

"I started my working life as a secretary, moving into marketing before becoming a full time mother for 12 years.  I have 3 children.  My daughter is now a qualified primary school teacher and my two sons are at university, one studying chemistry and the other, maths.  I became actively involved in their education from the beginning by helping in class, being part of parent teacher associations as well as becoming a governor at their secondary school.  My interest in education developed and, before I knew it, I was working as an unqualified teacher, training on the job to become a fully qualified chemistry teacher.  One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher is helping students in a pastoral capacity.   Often life outside school, college and university can have a big impact on how a student copes with the academic pressures put on them and this often affects their mental health.  I have first-hand experience of this with one of my own children.  I did not go to university when I was younger, but studied and gained an honours degree in Chemistry through the Open University whilst bringing up the children.  This involved many late nights and early mornings to complete assignments when the children were asleep.  This continued through my teacher training, although by this time the children were old enough to help out! I am still continuing to study as I am about to embark on my final module for an MSC in Medicinal Chemistry through the OU.  As a result of my own experience of studying, I understand the pressures on postgraduate students who have dependents and other responsibilities outside of their studies and know just how good it is having someone to talk to."

Qualified mental health first aider.

Deborah Longbottom

is Head of Postraduate Education in the Department of Chemistry, responsible for all aspects of the postgraduate training programme, including academic and industrial lectures and workshops, placement opportunities and this series of careers sessions with Departmental alumni. She has always been interested in teaching at University Level and was supported in tailoring her Senior Research Associate position with Steven Ley in order to develop her teaching experience at this level.  Indeed, she was a Teaching Fellow for undergraduates in this Department for several years and still retains some key responsibilities in this area. Her research background comprises organic synthesis and methodology (PhD with Steven V Ley, first postdoctoral role with K.C. Nicolaou) and experience in the pharmaceutical industry (Lilly Pharmaceuticals and GSK). Her most recent research involvement has been through a fruitful collaboration with the O'Reilly group at Warwick University, which has led to interesting investigations on the synthesis and utility of amino-acid functionalised polymers formed by RAFT polymerisation.  Deborah has three lovely children (William, Alex and Lawrence) and her husband co-runs his own company (Isomerase Therapeutics Ltd) so life is very busy and interesting for everybody in the family!

Qualified mental health first aider.

Cristina Misuraca

I was born in Cosenza, a small city in the south of Italy, where I remained and studied Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Technology. In October 2007, I moved to the University of Sheffield in the UK where I undertook my PhD in Chemistry working on cooperativity in supramolecular systems under the supervision of Prof Chris Hunter. I moved to Strasbourg, France in 2011 where I worked with Prof Nicolas Giuseppone as a postdoctoral researcher on dynamic combinatorial chemistry applied to material science. In October 2014, I returned to Sheffield where I worked on H-bonding and solvent effect with Prof Nick Williams before moving to Cambridge with Chris Hunter and his group. Over the past 5 years, I have been juggling between being the research administrator and a postdoc in Chris’ group.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Kathleen Pickett

joined the Department of Chemistry as Welfare, Training and Development Advisor in September 2016.  In her role, she provides personnel support across the Department, which includes the provision of advice and support on a broad range of personnel related issues: staff recruitment and selection, probation, mentoring, staff review, University policies and training, as well as facilitating a confidential advisory service for staff. 

Kathleen studied for her degree in York and has lived and worked overseas both in Japan and the USA. She worked as a Secondary school teacher in a Cambridge state school for 12 years prior to joining the department, teaching, mentoring and supporting teenagers.

Kathleen is a qualified Mental Health First Aider, a Staff Mental Health Champion and a department Wellbeing Advocate.

Aruna Reddy

I grew up in the North West of England and also spent several years of my childhood in India. In 2017, I completed my PhD studies in Chemistry at the University of Manchester. In total, I spent 8 years studying both my undergrad and postgrad degrees in Manchester and it was definitely time for a change. Like many PhD grads, I wanted to experience a career in consultancy. And so when I got accepted for a role as a Consultant at an international nuclear consultancy based in Oxford, it felt like an obvious next step. Although, I had learnt a great deal during my time there, it didn’t quite feel like the right fit for me and I embarked on my next venture at the University of Cambridge.
As someone who understands and has experienced the pressures of undertaking a postgraduate research degree, my goal now, as the Postgraduate Education Manager in the Department, is to pursue a hands on role within a university environment, contributing to the support of the postgraduate community. Throughout my university life, I held many roles in a tutoring/ pastoral capacity and wish to continue this by working closely with the Postgrad Ed Team /Committee and the well established Departmental Postgraduate Student Support network - with the sole objective of making your journey just that little bit easier in any way that I can. So, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Chung Tu

I joined the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry in November 2019. My previous employment was at another University working with undergraduate students and course delivery. I studied Business Management at Anglia Ruskin University. I grew up in Cambridge and remained here because I really love the city. In my spare time I train in athletics particularly the 100m and 200m sprints. I really want students to have the best experience during their studies and I hope I can help provide support for anyone that needs it.

Qualified mental health first aider 

Richard Turner

I started in the Department of Chemistry in 2003 working for Professor Steven Ley to provide technical support to his research group.  Over a period of 13 years, the role evolved to include aspects of health and safety, procurement, proof reading and co-writing research papers as well as providing pastoral care.  During this time, I also worked with Jo Lockhart who, as you can see, is also a Departmental Tutor. My time continues in the department as the Departmental Safety Officer.

Qualified mental health first aider.

Silvia Vignolini

I studied Physics at the University of Florence, Italy. In 2009, I was awarded a PhD in Solid State Physics at the European Laboratory for non-Linear Spectroscopy and the Physics Department at the University of Florence. In 2010, I moved to Cambridge as a post-doctoral research associate working in the Cavendish Laboratory and the Plant Science Department. In 2013, I started my independent group becoming a   BBSRC David Philip Fellow and shortly after I was appointed as Lecturer in the Chemistry Department in Cambridge and now I am a Reader in Chemistry and Bio-inspired materials. I run a very interdisciplinary group of researchers at the interface of chemistry, soft-matter physics, optics, and biology.