Ben was born in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Ben studied for his undergraduate/masters (MChem) in Chemistry at St John's College, University of Oxford. He graduated with the top First in the Honour School, winning the Gibbs Prize for examinations and the Brian Bannister Prize for his MChem thesis on oxidative cyclisation reactions. Ben remained at Oxford for his postgraduate work, with Prof. Timothy Donohoe. Ben's DPhil thesis, entitled 'Novel Palladium Catalysed Routes to Aromatic Heterocycles was passed with No Corrections and awarded a Commendation by the Division of Physical Sciences. Ben then moved to the University Cambridge to undertake a Herchel Smith Research Fellowship with Prof. Jonathan Nitschke on the 'Post-assembly Modification of Metallosupramolecular Architectures'. Ben was subsequently awarded a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellowship in order to study 'Stimuli-responsive Molecular Containers'. In October 2019, Ben moved to the University of Nottingham to start his own research group as a Nottingham Research Fellow as part of the Green Chemicals Beacon of Excellence. In 2022 Ben was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and given the title of Assistant Prof. (proleptic). In 2023 Ben was promoted to Associate Prof. (proleptic). Ben's research interests span supramolecular chemistry, self-assembly, heterocyclic chemistry and catalysis.
Ben is also a leading advocate for public engagement and outreach in chemistry. Ben is a key member of the UK Chemistry Olympiad Working Group of the RSC, helping to run the national rounds of the Chemistry Olympiad competition. Ben has been Head Mentor of the UK team at the International Final since 2011. Ben was a key founding member of the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge (C₃L₆) for lower sixth students, which he worked on until 2019. Ben also helped develop the Isaac Chemistry website and has made appearances on BBC radio's The Naked Scientist.
Ben gives undergraduate lectures on the following modules:
CHEM3003 - Bioinorganic and metal-coordination chemistry
CHEM4003 - Molecular interactions and supramolecular assembly
Ben is also a leading advocate for public engagement and outreach in chemistry.
Ben was awarded the RSC Early Career Prize for Excellence in Higher Education 2022. Link Ben is a key member of the UK Chemistry Olympiad Working Group of the RSC, helping to run the national rounds of the Chemistry Olympiad competition. Ben has been Head Mentor of the UK team at the International Final since 2011 and currently sits on the International Steering Committee for this competition. Since 2023, the Round 2 selection for this event has been held at the University of Nottingham, where the team of four students to represent the UK are selected from the best 35 A level students from Round 1 in the UK.
Ben was a key founding member of the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge (C₃L₆) for lower sixth students, which he worked on until 2019. Ben also helped develop the Isaac Chemistry website and has made appearances on BBC radio's The Naked Scientist.
Ben was awarded a Lord Dearing Award by the University of Nottingham in 2022 in recognition for his work on the Chemistry Olympiad, and his work on how the incorporation of gamification within the chemistry curriculum can improve student engagement.
The group's research covers multiple projects which all fall within the overall theme of supramolecular chemistry. More detail will be added to these pages as projects develop and those interested… read more
The group's research covers multiple projects which all fall within the overall theme of supramolecular chemistry. More detail will be added to these pages as projects develop and those interested are also advised to look at the Publications page.
Some particular themes of current research include:
Metal-organic cages made by self-assembly:
Through exploiting reversible metal-ligand coordination interactions, the assembly of matter can be controlled on the nanoscale, creating well-defined metal-organic cages or "nanoboxes", a few nm in size (10,000 times smaller than a human hair). This is now a well-established field, with techniques to construct cages in a variety of sizes and shapes (e.g., cubes, tetrahedra, prisms), and for a variety of different applications - many of these using the inner void or cavity of these nanoboxes to trap or bind another species of interest.
In our group we are particularly focussing on new applications or functions of these structures, including:
Stabilising a highly reactive chemical species or intermediate for further study.
Promoting supramolecular catalysis
Constructing metal-organic cages from unusual metal ions, or unusual ligands, so that these nanoboxes can be applied to tackle novel applications.
Investigating the interplay and interconversion between different structures or how systems of multiple structures can work together.
Developing novel metal-organic cages for use as non-invasive imaging agents as well as for drug delivery.
Our group has a broad interest in stimuli responsive materials, notably those that respond to a chemical stimulus, and the response leading to the structure changing shape, size, solubility, guest binding properties etc. We focus a lot of our efforts around a molecule called a tetrazine. Tetrazines are fascinating molecules. Although they are aromatic rings isostructural to benzene, they show several interesting and orthogonal reactivity patterns. Most famous is the 'Click' type inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reaction with strained alkenes and alkynes. However, they can also undergo interesting redox chemistry, can act a ligands to metals, and can undergo reversible nucleophilic aromatic substitution. We are looking how we can investigate the interplay of all these factors to design highly functional materials.
Our group is starting our adventures into interlocked molecule chemistry. These exciting structures underpin the basis of molecular machines, but we are in need of new and more efficient ways of constructing them, in addition to being able to access interlocked molecules that can be responsive to a range of stimuli.