Current PhD students

Anand Jay Gaston

Jay completed his MSci in Natural Sciences in 2017 from the University of Nottingham, which included a year studying abroad at the University of Maryland in USA. Following a Master’s project in chemical biology he began his PhD in the Garden group in September 2017.  Co-supervised by Mike Shaver, Jay’s research involves using multifunctional salen ligands as catalysts for the polymerisation of carbon dioxide, lactones and more!


Outside of the lab Jay enjoys going to the gym, visiting the cinema and exploring the pubs and bars around Edinburgh.

Weronika Gruszka

Weronika graduated with MChem in Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh in July 2017. In her fourth year, she spent a year in Prof Paul Dyson’s research laboratory at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland where she worked on the catalytic synthesis of methanol from carbon dioxide and diols via cyclic carbonates. This sparked her interest in upcycling of carbon dioxide in chemical synthesis and upon her return to Edinburgh, she undertook her final year project with Dr Jennifer Garden, looking at the catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygenated polymeric materials.

She is looking forward to taking this project further during her PhD as part of the EPSRC CRITICAT Centre for Doctoral Training.


In her spare time away from chemistry, Weronika likes to test out new recipes in the kitchen, explore new places and keep active by swimming and going to the gym.

Yali Zhou

Yali graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2018 with an MSc in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry. In her Master’s thesis project she worked on quantum mechanics calculations and molecular dynamics simulation to investigate catalysed reactions. Being greatly interested in catalysis, Yali decided to join the Garden group for a PhD.Her research project focuses on the design and synthesis of heterometallic catalysts for carbon dioxide/epoxide copolymerisation.

Yali enjoys playing the piano and ukulele, doing photography and road tripping during her spare time.

Current Postgraduate Masters Students

Maisarah Abdul Rahman

Maisarah graduated from the University of Bristol in 2018 and later joined the Garden group as an MRes student. Her current project focuses of the synthesis of bimetallic salen complexes as catalysts for the ring-opening polymerisation of trimethylene carbonate.

Maisarah enjoys hiking, exploring the city and reading in her spare time.