What is SynTech?
What is SynTech?
The EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (SynTech) is cohort-based program that provides training through research to produce scientists who are equipped to tackle the next generation of molecule-making problems with skills in unique skillsets across synthetic chemistry, chemical engineering and data-driven technologies.
Why do we need SynTech?
The syntheses of molecules for drug discovery, agrochemical science & fine chemicals remain a major challenge in the face of today’s business-driven timeframes. As such, we miss out on many molecules of function that could have significant impact in society. Tomorrows synthesis challenges can be met by a more cross-disciplinary approach to the molecule-making process and so we need a new generation of researchers who are experts in their respective fields but fluent across other subjects so they can form effective teams that will solve these problems.
What are the goals of SynTech?
The goal of the CDT is to produce the next generation of molecule making scientists. We will train these scientists through their participation in cutting-edge research projects and cross-disciplinary educational courses which, together, will enable them to master & excel in their chosen area of expertise and achieve a high level of competence in the other core disciplines of SynTech to new molecule-making challenges.
While the research remit of SynTech is broad, projects undertaken fit within two Core Research Training themes, which are divided into a number of Specialist Research Training Themes. The specialist research themes are frequently reviewed and expanded when needed as the field changes.
Core Research Training Themes:
Machine Learning and AI for Chemistry
Digitalisation of Process Development
Specialist Research Training Themes:
High Throughput Synthesis (HTS)
Continuous Flow Chemistry
Analytics & Purification Technology
Kinetics & Modelling
Reactivity Parameterization & Computation
Statistics & Data Handling
ML/AI for Process Optimisation
Data and Models in Chemical Processes
Process Intensification and Clean / Sustainable Technologies
Design of Functional Molecular Materials
In addition to these themes, there is great scope for wider diversification in research training, which will be assessed by the CDT Directors as SynTech progresses.
Students begin their programme with a comprehensive training phase in their probationary year which consists of taught courses, workshops and experimental research experience. The training programme is broken down into two distinct types of compulsory elements and optional advanced courses and will feed into a PhD proposal writing phase. The compulsory element is followed by all students during the first six months of the programme and includes:
Fundamental (core) Skills Training
These courses are largely tried, tested and optimised courses that we would expect all CDT students to take, in order to underpin all aspects of their experience in the CDT. Many of them have already been piloted, some for a number of years, and we are confident that they provide CDT students with an excellent foundation upon which to build their PhDs, whatever their area of specialisation. All courses will be taken as part of the first-year experience that students have in our CDT.
Focused Bridging Courses
As students in the CDT are drawn from a broad range of training backgrounds and disciplines, they necessarily need to attend bridging courses which are aimed to give them a good understanding of all areas covered by SynTech. Some of these are drawn from existing MPhil courses and some are be entirely new courses written to underpin the student knowledge-base within the CDT.
Optional Advanced Courses
Students have access to a range of different optional courses that are offered by the CDT host and participating departments and can take them at any time during their PhD according to their individual interest and future direction of their PhD.
Guided Training Projects
Students are offered initial 6-month projects from an array of (~10-12) topics. These projects address some of the core training objectives of SynTech while retaining a research element. Specific goals of these projects are to learn new techniques and develop a deeper understanding of research challenges that will provide a basis for their PhD research.
Guided Research Proposals
Students will work closely with a PI (or PIs) to develop a research project that will underpin their PhD. As well as the Core research themes, the students will be encouraged to consider carefully how their project can be collaborative with either second PI in the CDT and/or with another student from a complementary discipline. During the first year, the cohort model will be essential in developing research synergies between students so that their project interests and complementary backgrounds can lead to a collaborative research project. Collaborative project with students and/or PI’s from distinct subject areas is actively encouraged. Project partners in industry can also form part of this collaboration. All research proposals must be presented and defended in front of the CDT cohort and PIs. The CDT Directors sign of on the final project proposal once it is deemed to have meet the criteria in line with the objectives of the CDT.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
& CDT Industrial Partners
Congratulations to Shambhawi!
Shambhawi and her group have received investment funding for their exciting idea which we will provide further details for once we are able to.