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Current members


Dr Eszter Fazekas

Eszter got her BSc and MSc degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemical Engineering in Hungary. Her PhD at the University of Edinburgh focused on the design of organometallic complex catalysts for polymerisation and CO2 coupling, working with Jenni Garden and Prof. Mike Shaver. After a postdoc position at Heriot-Watt University, she returned to the Garden Group to work on block copolymers. In her free time, Eszter likes to bombard everyone with unsolicited photos of her african pygmy hedgehog (Celestina) and her lesser tenrec (Rataxes).

Dr Raju Chambenahalli

Raju got his MSc in Chemistry from Tumkur University. Later, he obtained his PhD from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Thiruvananthapuram, India) under the guidance of Dr Ajay Venugopal. His doctoral research was focused on cationic zinc hydrides for CO2 reduction. His current area of research is aimed on the design and synthesis of novel catalysts for block copolymers. Raju is an Indian Cricket Team enthusiast and a big supporter of RCB. In his spare time, he likes to read, explore places around him and play badminton. 

Dr Utku Yolsal

Utku obtained his BSc and MSc (by Research) degrees in Chemistry from Durham University. His masters work focussed on the preparation of hyperbranched polysiloxanes. Realising he likes polymers; he pursued his studies at the Universities of Edinburgh and Manchester under the supervision of Prof Mike Shaver. His PhD was on the synthesis and rheological characterisation of polymeric frustrated Lewis pair gels. After spending some time in industry, learning about high pressure systems and seed coatings, he joined the Garden Group as a PDRA in April 2022. Utku is currently working on polymer modifications in collaboration with an industrial partner. In his free time, he likes to do some hiking and go for a walk around the city.

PhD students

Phoebe Lowy

Phoebe graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with an MChem in Chemistry. In her third year she spent a year with Dr Victoria Blair at Monash University, Melbourne where she worked on the synthesis of phosphindoles and their alkali metal mediated metalation reactions. Phoebe joined the Garden group through the SOFI2 CDT. She is developing the synthesis of heterotrimetallic salen complexes for ring-opening (co)polymerisation. Outside of the lab Phoebe enjoys eating, walking and baking.

Anna Lykkeberg

Anna graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MChem in Chemistry in 2020. In her final year she spent a year on placement with Croda working on metal oxides for sun care. After completing a short summer project in the Garden Group in 2019, she returned to the Garden Group in 2021 for her PhD through the SOFI2 CDT.  Her PhD is also funded by Croda and involves working on environmentally degradable hard/soft block copolymers. In her free time, she enjoys boardgames, dancing Lindy Hop and taking her dog for walks.

Maisarah Abdul Rahman

Maisarah graduated from the University of Bristol in 2018 then joined us for a project focusing on the synthesis of bimetallic salen complexes as catalysts for the ring-opening polymerisation of trimethylene carbonate. After earning an MRes degree with distinction Maisarah re-joined the Garden group to start her PhD. Maisarah enjoys hiking, exploring the city and reading in her spare time.

Peter Szieber

Originally from Hungary, Peter travelled to the land down under to obtain his bachelor's in chemistry at James Cook University. He then joined the group of Prof. Michael Oelgemoeller, where he investigated the photochemical synthesis of aristolactams. Peter then returned to Europe for his MSc in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, where he completed a 3-month summer research project with Prof. Campopiano and was tasked with the characterisation of an unknown enzyme for industrial applications. Planning his future in biocatalysis Peter secured an IBioIC/BBSRC-funded studentship with Prof. Campopiano, Prof. Louise Horsfall and Dr. Jenni Garden. Peter will develop a sustainable process to turn plant biomass into polymeric materials using bio- and chemo-catalytic pathways. In his free time Peter enjoys hiking and practicing cardistry/juggling.

Joe Cockroft

Joe grew up in Ashford, Kent and obtained his MChem degree from the University of York. He undertook an industrial placement at the Centre of Process Innovation formulating electrically conductive adhesives for flexible micro-electronics under the supervision of Dr. Glenn Hurst and Dr. Peter Karadakov. He also undertook a summer project making bismuth vanadate photocatalysts to selectively mediate chemical reactions under the supervision of Dr. Richard Douthwaite. Joe recently joined the Thomas and Garden groups at the University of Edinburgh (in conjunction with Johnson Matthey) with the goal of sustainable C-H functionalisation.

Peter Shaw

Peter graduated with an MChem in Chemistry from the University of York in 2014. His final year project was undertaken at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand investigating the chemical removal of silica from super saturated brines for high temperature geothermal power plants under the supervision of Professor Johnston. Since graduating Peter has worked in industry, firstly conducting quantitative food analysis before moving into novel pharmaceutical analysis and finally working as a radiosynthesis chemist. His PhD in the Garden group is focused on synthesising catalysts for block co-polymer formation. In his spare time Peter enjoys white water kayaking amongst other outdoor activities.

Jack Hughes

Jack, originally from Swansea, Wales, graduated from the University of Bath with an MChem in 2022. For his masters project, he joined the Jones group studying the zinc-catalysed chemical recycling of commodity polymers, for which he won the Infineum prize for best inorganic project. Interested in both catalysis and polymers, he joined the Garden group in 2022 to explore catalysis for block copolymer synthesis. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, live music, and reminding those around him that he is Welsh, not English.

Ben Grills

Ben graduated with an MChem from Cardiff University in 2022. He spent his third year on an industrial placement at PCI Pharma Services performing analytical testing on early-stage pharmaceutical products. For his Masters project Ben joined the Fallis group investigating substituted phthalocyanine complexes to photo-oxidise the chemical weapon mustard gas. His PhD project is a collaboration between the Garden and Bhawal groups looking at novel heterobimetallics to discover new coupling reactions. In his free time, Ben enjoys Taekwondo, climbing and other outdoor activities.

Yazhini Vinoth Kumar

Originally from India, Yazhini completed her triple-major bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from PSG College of Technology, Tamil Nadu. She then moved to the UK for her MSc in Materials Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, where she completed a 3-month research project with Dr Nicholle Bell working on assessing peatland heath on molecular level using teabags. Through her interest to conduct research with sustainable plastics, she secured an E4DTP funded PhD studentship with Dr. Santiago Romero-Vargas Castrillon and Dr. Jenni Garden. She will be working on elucidating the environmental impact of nanoplastics by investigating how it reacts with living organisms and identifying structure-property relations to bacterial cell toxicity. In her free time, Yazhini enjoys tending to her plants, trying new foods, and taking random walks around the city.

Ying Wang

Ying obtained her BSc and MSc degrees in Chemical Engineering and Technology from the Guangdong University of Technology. Her masters project focussed on the ring-opening polymerisation of aziridines and on multicomponent polymerisations. Out of her great interest in catalysis and degradable polymers, she joined the Garden group in 2022 funded by the China Scholarship Council. Her curent research focuses on the ring-opening polymerisation of cyclic monomers. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking and reading a good sci-fi novel.

Agathe Clément

Agathe graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MChem in Chemistry in 2022. Her final year project was during a placement with Agfa-Gevaert in Belgium, studying the biodegradation of bioplastics. She then joined the Garden group through the SOFI2 CDT in 2023. Her PhD focuses on developing block co-polymers for use as compatibilisers. In her spare time Agathe enjoys cooking, travelling, and taking care of plants.

Undergraduate students

Maja Więzik

Maja is an undergraduate Chemistry student at the University of Edinburgh who just finished her 3rd year, aiming to graduate with the title of Master of Chemistry. She secured funding through the prestigious Afton Summer Internship and joined the team to work with Eszter on a collaborative project between the Garden and Lusby groups, applying supramolecular cages as catalysts for polymer synthesis. In her free time, Maja enjoys reading and hiking.

Karen Radetzky

Karen graduated from Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany with her BSc in 2022. Currently, she is pursuing her postgraduate degree in Materials Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh where she joined the Garden Group for her dissertation work. Her thesis will investigate the influence of monomer sterics on the sequential structure of copolymers. In her free time she enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and climbing.

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