Dr Louis Luk and Dr Louis Morrill are searching for a talented undergraduate to work in their groups through the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) during the summer of 2016 (£200/week for 8 weeks).

This research project is very relevant for meeting one of the key challenges in industrial biotechnology – by developing novel biocatalysts that can perform industrially useful reactions for the production of fine chemicals. The student will produce one-of-a-kind, metal-free artificial enzymes. It is an exciting opportunity for us to publish a high-impact, peer-reviewed article as well as generate pilot data for grant submission.

This summer project is highly multidisciplinary, drawing on tools from organic chemistry, chemical biology, analytical instrumentation and enzymology. In order for the student to learn, practice and subsequently advance complex concepts from these disciplines, we clearly dissected our project into four separate modules:

  • Preparing one or two novel ligand-tethered organocatalysts by simple organic synthetic methods. The student will learn common chemistry techniques, such as TLC and NMR measurement. (2 weeks)
  • Creating organocatalytic artificial enzymes (OAEs) by introducing these compounds to their corresponding protein binding partners. The concepts of gene expression and using chemical biology tools will be taught. (1 week)
  • Testing the activity of these OAEs. The student will practice valuable techniques, including mass spectrometry and chiral HPLC. (3.5 weeks)
  • Refining reactivity and stereoselectivity via both chemical and biological means. Only preliminary data is expected, and the student will learn molecular cloning technique, such as site-directed mutagenesis. (1.5 weeks)

To achieve these modules, we will provide a vacant fumehood, benchtop in the biology lab as well as all the essential materials needed for the proposed experiments. The student will receive extensive training of various organic and biological chemistry skills, all of which are also routinely used in both academic and industrial laboratories. Also, research progress will be monitored by both supervisors (Dr L Luk and Dr L Morrill). Last but not least, the nature of this project is at the interface of chemistry and biology, and thus the students will learn from and communicate with post-graduates, post-docs and academics from both research areas.

More information about L Luk and L Morrill can be found here:

Please email for anyone who is interested. Applicants should have a minimum cumulative average grade of 2:1 and include a transcript in the email.