Group Members

Prof. Steve Armes

Prof. Steve Armes

Prof. Steve Armes obtained his BSc in Chemistry from the University of Bristol in 1983, which was followed by a PhD from the same institution in 1987. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (1987-89), he became a lecturer at Sussex University in 1989. After being promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor in Polymer Chemistry, he moved to Sheffield in 2004 to become Professor in Polymer and Colloid Chemistry. He is currently Director of the Sheffield Polymer Centre and Farapack Polymers, a University spin-out company. He was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.

See his departmental page for more information.

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Dr Matthew Derry
I obtained a Masters in chemistry (MChem) from the University of York in 2012, which included a 12 month industrial placement at Infineum. I then moved to the University of Sheffield, and after a brief summer research placement, started my PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes FRS. This PhD project was fully-funded by Lubrizol and was focused on RAFT-mediated polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA) in industrially-relevant non-polar solvents. After receiving my PhD in 2016, I continued as a postdoctoral researcher in the Armes Group. In April 2017 I began a research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which is a joint venture between the Armes and Ryan-Mykhaylyk groups. I am investigating the initial micellisation behaviour of block copolymer assemblies under various conditions using sophisticated small-angle scattering techniques.

Dr Yin Ning
I received my bachelor’s degree in polymer materials and engineering (2006-2010) and Master’s degree in materials science at South China University of Technology (2010-2013) and then achieved my PhD degree at the University of Sheffield (2013-2016) under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes, FRS.

Now I am a research associate, working on rational synthesis of diblock copolymer nanoparticles via RAFT-mediated polymerization-induced self-assembly as well as polymer-modified inorganic nanoparticles.

Dr Irene Canton 
I am a biochemist with a PhD in cellular and molecular biology and extensive research experience in the field of biomaterials. My research interest is in the design and characterisation of appropriate nanotechnology tools to meet biological  and clinical challenges.

Dr Nicholas Penfold 
I graduated with a 1st class MChem degree from the University of Sheffield in 2013, which included a 6 week Sheffield undergraduate research experience (SURE) placement into the synthesis and characterization of new nitrogen-rich smokeless explosive complexes supervised by Dr Peter Portius. I then undertook Industrial Case PhD sponsored by the EPSRC and Procter and Gamble under the supervision by Prof. Steve Armes at the same institution and graduated in 2017. The research in this project focused on the synthesis, characterisation and application of novel block copolymer cationic nanoparticles that were prepared via polymerisation-induced self-assembly. I am currently a post-doctoral research associate, funded by the ERC, researching into aqueous block copolymer nanoparticles for biomedical applications.

PhD Students

Matt Rymaruk
I received my MChem degree from the University of Sheffield in 2014. My final-year project was spent in the group of Prof. Chris Hunter FRS, working on synthetic mimics of nucleic acids. I then started my PhD in the Armes group, designing new polymers for oil-thickening applications. My PhD is funded through the CDT in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids, and is sponsored by Scott Bader. I have already published a paper in Nanoscale on the rational design of highly transparent Pickering emulsions. As part of my PhD I’ve undertaken a three-month secondment working in the group of Prof. Erica Wanless at the University of Newcastle in Australia. In addition, I’ve also completed a six-month placement at Scott Bader working in their specialty polymers division. Both secondments are expected to yield publications in due course.

Amy Cockram
I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2014 with an MChem degree in Chemistry. I first worked in the Armes group as a summer vacation undergraduate student at the end of my third year, which led to a co-authorship on a Soft Matter article. I then started my PhD studies in the Armes group, exploring RAFT aqueous emulsion polymerisation. This CDT project is sponsored by AkzoNobel. I have published a paper in Macromolecules that examined the effect of varying the aqueous solubility of methacrylic monomers on the copolymer morphology. My six-month placement at AkzoNobel was successful and led to a joint manuscript that is currently under review with a journal. I am now mainly focused on writing my thesis and conducting a few final experiments.

Sarah Byard
I graduated with a first-class MChem degree with a Year in Industry from the University of Sheffield in 2015. My first experience of research was a third-year summer vacation project with Prof. L. Brammer prior to my sandwich year at Cytec. My CDT PhD project is in collaboration with BASF and has produced a Macromolecules paper on an all-acrylamide polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA) formulation that can produce either spheres, worms or vesicles depending on the precise synthesis conditions. I am now working on the synthesis of cationic nanoparticles for specific applications.

Craig Jesson
I received an MChem degree from the University of Sheffield in 2015, which included a 12-month industrial placement at Huntsman in Belgium. I then chose to stay at the University of Sheffield and after a brief summer research placement, started my PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes. My PhD project is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids and is sponsored by GEO Specialty Chemicals. This company manufactures specialty methacrylic monomers and is based near Southampton. I am currently working at GEO on secondment for six-months. My PhD studies involve RAFT-mediated polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA). I have published two papers in Macromolecules to date. The first paper demonstrated the removal of RAFT end-groups from various types of diblock copolymer nanoparticles using H2O2 in aqueous solution. The second paper reported the convenient one-pot synthesis of high molecular weight poly(glycerol monomethacrylate) via RAFT aqueous emulsion polymerisation of a protected monomer (isopropylideneglycerol monomethacrylate) followed by in situ acid-catalysed deprotection. When I return to Sheffield this summer, I will be working on new aldehyde-based methacrylic monomers.

Erik Jan Cornel
I obtained my bachelor of chemistry (BSc) from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen (Netherlands) (2010-2014). I spend the final year of this degree at the University of Sheffield where I was involved in a research project focused on Ni-catalysed benzannulation reactions under the supervision of Prof. J. P. A. Harrity. Afterwards, I obtained an MSc degree in polymer chemistry from the University of Sheffield (2014-2015). During this time, I conducted my six-month research project in the Armes group. I stayed on in the Armes research group for my PhD studies (2015-2018). My PhD project is fully-funded by Lubrizol and involves the preparation of diblock copolymer nanoparticles in non-polar media using RAFT-mediated polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA). I am working on two draft manuscripts based on my results and I recently presented some of my work at an american chemical society conference held in New Orleans.

Deborah Beattie
I graduated in 2016 with an MChem degree in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield. I worked with Dr. Oleksandr Mykhaylyk as a summer vacation student at the end of my third year in a project sponsored by AkzoNobel that involved SAXs studies of the self-assembly of random copolymers in aqueous solution. I also worked in a similar area for my MChem project with Dr. Mykhaylyk before deciding to stay on to study for a PhD evaluating various RAFT-mediated PISA formulations working with Prof. Steve Armes and Dr Mykhaylyk. I have just finished a year as Chair of ChemSoc, which culminated in organising a successful end-of-year summer ball.

Oliver Deane
I received my MChem in chemistry (2012-2016) at The University of Bristol, in which I completed a 12-month industrial placement at Syngenta. Shortly after finishing my industrial placement in 2015, I undertook a three-month summer placement at The University of Bath sponsored in Syngenta. Now I am in the second year of my PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Steve Armes. My CDT project is sponsored by an american chemical company, Ashland Specialty Chemicals. I am currently working on the synthesis of new methacrylic-based diblock copolymers via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. These diblock copolymers undergo micellar self-assembly in response to certain stimuli (e.g. temperature or pH) and hence may offer potential industrial applications. I am currently drafting my first scientific manuscript which needs to be submitted to Ashland for publication clearance.

Rebecca Gibson
I obtained a Chemistry with a Year in Industry MChem degree from the University of Sheffield in 2016. My final-year MChem project on the encapsulation of bovine serum albumin and silica nanoparticles within diblock copolymer vesicles prepared by RAFT aqueous dispersion polymerisation was undertaken in the Armes group. I am now a second-year CDT PhD student sponsored by Ashland Specialty Chemicals working on RAFT-mediated PISA using a methacrylic analogue of N-vinylpyrrolidone.

Shannon North
I graduated from the University of Sheffield with a Chemistry with a Year in Industry MChem degree in 2016. My year in industry was spent at a local inkjet ink company called Diamond Dispersions, which is now part of Lubrizol. I was able to help this company solve important technical problems with their inkjet ink formulations and was involved in scaling up improved ink formulations on a 125-kg scale. I joined the Armes group as an MChem student and my final-year project yielded a publication in Langmuir. I am now a second-year CDT student examining the use of nanoparticle dispersants for aqueous ink formulations. This project is sponsored by Lubrizol (Blackley site).

Derek Chan
I graduated with an MChem degree in Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh in 2015. This included an industrial placement year at AkzoNobel and a final-year project in Prof. Michael Shaver’s group, evaluating new organocatalysts for ring-opening polymerisation. I spent two years working at Nanoco Technologies (2015-2017) on the manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots, before starting my PhD studies at the University of Sheffield in 2017. My CDT project involves the synthesis of diblock copolymer nanoparticles for potential agrochemical applications and is sponsored by Syngenta.

Izzy Dorsman
I studied for an MSci in Chemistry with Industrial Experience at the University of Bristol, during which I completed an industrial placement year helping to develop agrochemical formulations at Syngenta. My final year research project involved studying the dynamic surface tensions of sugar-based surfactants in water with Prof. J. Eastoe. I am now in my first year of the Polymer CDT. My research project is sponsored by Scott Bader and involves investigating new mechanisms for thickening oils, currently by preparing diblock copolymer nanoparticles by RAFT-mediated PISA.

Paul Grainger
I have been interested in colloidal and polymer chemistry since my undergraduate studies, where I examined the use of polyelectrolyte complexes as Pickering emulsifiers. At the University of Sheffield, I am studying the effect and mechanism of polymeric dispersants on asphaltenes in marine heavy fuel oils, in a CDT project sponsored by Lubrizol. Asphaltenes are large organic molecules found in petroleum products that can sometimes precipitate from solution. Such insoluble deposits can lead to fouling of oil wells and marine engines. In the latter case, this problem is becoming more urgent as the shipping industry moves from using Base I engine oils to Base II oils, which are more prone to asphaltene drop-out. I am examining a wide range of analytical techniques to gain a better understanding of the mode of action of commercial dispersants that are currently used to prevent asphaltene aggregation.

Saul Hunter
I graduated with an MChem Chemistry degree from the University of Sheffield in 2017. During this time, I carried out two industrially-sponsored summer projects within the Armes group which each focused on using RAFT-mediated polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA). During the final year of my undergraduate studies in the same team, I investigated the use of anisotropic block copolymer nanoparticles for the preparation of oil-in-water Pickering emulsions. This work is about to be submitted to a scientific journal. I began my PhD studies in the Armes Group in October 2017. My CDT project is focused on the preparation and characterisation of nanoemulsions stabilised by either block copolymer nanoparticles or chains and is sponsored by DSM, a global company based in The Netherlands.

Emma Brotherton


Csilla Gyorgy


Kate Tatani

MChem/MSc and visiting students

Andrew Leigh

Rory McBride