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Department of Chemistry

David Phillips Fellow
Jenny completed her PhD in bioinorganic chemistry at the University of Sydney, Australia, with a brief stint at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she developed redox active platinum-based anti-cancer agents and studied their biodistribtion/metabolism within tumour models. She then became a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working with Prof Erwin Reisner to explore how biocatalysts can be exploited to generate solar fuels. In particular, she worked on developing strategies to re-wire oxidoreductases, such as the water-oxidation enzyme photosystem II, to electrodes/semiconductors/other proteins in an emerging field known as 'semi-artificial photosynthesis'. She has just been awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship and started her independent group in 2018 at the Department of Chemistry. Here, she continues her work on re-wiring photosynthesis, but taking it to another level of complexity - in live cells!
Research interests
Semi-artificial photosynthesis, (photo)electrochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, chemical biology, materials chemistry, 3D-printing, biofilm chemistry
Current research
Photosynthetic micro-organisms such as cyanobacterial and algae are one of the oldest and most abundant life forms on Earth. They played a profound role in tera-transforming our planet and giving rise to the complex life forms we have today. In the process, they have evolved impressive machinery for converting sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into complex organic matter. As such, scientists of all disciplines are trying to understand and exploit their complex chemistry to benefit agriculture, the environment, and even to provide clean energy.
Research in our lab aims to develop chemical methods for understanding how photosynthetic microorganisms can be used to generate electricity (in what is known as biophotovoltaics) and solar chemicals. The approach is highly multi-disciplinary and involves bridging materials chemistry with chemical biology and synthetic biology. By developing tools to understand how natural photosynthetic systems can be interfaced with synthetic materials for energy and charge transfer, the productivity of microorganisms in general may be better harnessed in the near future to do more useful chemistry.
Applications from interested students and postdoctoral researchers to join the group are welcome.


Structure-Activity Relationships of Hierarchical Three-Dimensional Electrodes with Photosystem II for Semiartificial Photosynthesis.
X Fang, KP Sokol, N Heidary, TA Kandiel, JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Nano letters
Modulating the cellular uptake of fluorescently tagged substrates of prostate-specific antigen before and after enzymatic activation.
L Di Marco, JZ Zhang, J Doan, BJ Kim, N Yamamoto, N Bryce, TW Hambley
– Bioconjugate chemistry
Oxygenic Photoreactivity in Photosystem II Studied by Rotating Ring Disk Electrochemistry.
N Kornienko, JZ Zhang, KP Sokol, S Lamaison, A Fantuzzi, R van Grondelle, AW Rutherford, E Reisner
– J Am Chem Soc
Bias-free photoelectrochemical water splitting with photosystem II on a dye-sensitized photoanode wired to hydrogenase
KP Sokol, WE Robinson, J Warnan, N Kornienko, MM Nowaczyk, A Ruff, JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Nature Energy
Interfacing nature's catalytic machinery with synthetic materials for semi-artificial photosynthesis.
N Kornienko, JZ Zhang, KK Sakimoto, P Yang, E Reisner
– Nature Nanotechnology
Solar Water Splitting with a Hydrogenase Integrated in Photoelectrochemical Tandem Cells.
DH Nam, JZ Zhang, V Andrei, N Kornienko, N Heidary, A Wagner, K Nakanishi, KP Sokol, B Slater, I Zebger, S Hofmann, JC Fontecilla-Camps, CB Park, E Reisner
– Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)
Photoelectrochemistry of Photosystem II in Vitro vs in Vivo
JZ Zhang, P Bombelli, KP Sokol, A Fantuzzi, AW Rutherford, CJ Howe, E Reisner
– J Am Chem Soc
Photoelectrocatalytic H$_2$ evolution in water with molecular catalysts immobilised on p-Si $\textit{via}$ a stabilising mesoporous TiO$_2$ interlayer
JJ Leung, J Warnan, DH Nam, JZ Zhang, J Willkomm, E Reisner
– Chemical science
Competing charge transfer pathways at the photosystem II–electrode interface
JZ Zhang, KP Sokol, N Paul, E Romero, R van Grondelle, E Reisner
– Nature chemical biology
Rational wiring of photosystem II to hierarchical indium tin oxide electrodes using redox polymers
KP Sokol, D Mersch, V Hartmann, JZ Zhang, MM Nowaczyk, M Rögner, A Ruff, W Schuhmann, N Plumeré, E Reisner
– Energy & Environmental Science
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01223 336426

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