Meet The Group


Professor James Tucker


Jim was born in London and studied there at King’s College London (University of London), both as an undergraduate and a postgraduate, obtaining his BSc in 1989 and PhD in 1993, having studied in the group of Dennis Hall. Jim then undertook two postdoctoral fellowships, firstly in Hiroshima University, Japan with Eichii Kimura (1993-4) and then at the Université de Strasbourg, France with Nobel Prize winner Jean-Marie Lehn (1994-5). In 1995, he returned to the UK to take up a Lectureship in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Exeter. In 2005, when the university decided in their wisdom to shut their chemistry department, Jim moved to the University of Birmingham and in 2008 he was awarded an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship, which ran until 2014. He is now Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer in the School of Chemistry as well as Deputy Head of School. Jim likes to spend his spare time with his family but he also has an interest in watching good football (although QPR is his team) and photography. Just to make sure that he never rests, he also runs a campaign for a new city park in the centre of Birmingham and helps out with the running of a community cinema near where he lives.


Holly Roberts (4th Year)


Holly was born in Worcestershire in 1989. She completed her MSci at the University of Birmingham working with Dr Josephine Bunch’s group for her dissertation analysing Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) of latex polymers and the use of graphite as matrix to enhance both insulating and conductive samples. She started her PhD as part of the Tucker group in January 2013, researching surface bound ferrocene nucleic acid probes. In her spare time she enjoys time with her young daughter, arts and crafts, cooking and socialising.


Media Ismail (3rd Year)


Media Ismail is a 3rd Year PhD student researching the synthesis and characterisation of ferrocene and ruthenocene containing nucleoside analogues. She studied for her BSc and then Msc in chemistry at the University of Saladdine in Iraq in July 2002 and 2006. Her masters project looked at metal complexes of Schiff bases and acetamides and their biological activity. After that she worked at different universities in Iraq as an assistant lecturer before joining the Tucker group in September 2014. In her spare time she likes craft work sewing and of course, spending lots of time with her children.


Francia Allabush (3rd Year)

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Francia Allabush is a final year PhD student researching modified DNA aptamer strands for sensing applications in collaboration with Prof. Paula Mendes in Chemical Engineering. She studied for her MChem at Warwick university and worked as a research chemist at MacDermid for a few years before coming to UoB. She is the current chair of the research school liaison committee. She is a big Eastenders fan.


Aysha Ali (3rd Year)


Aysha was born in Birmingham in 1992 and completed her undergraduate masters degree in Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham in 2014. She is currently undertaking the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) Doctorate scheme between the University of Warwick, University of Birmingham and the University of Leicester. Her research focuses on establishing novel detection systems and the avenue of using M13 bacteriophage systems for detection of small molecules, proteins and DNA. She also interns at Science Capital, an event management company, helping to organise science events. In her spare time Aysha runs a youth group, goes for walks and enjoys socialising.


Klaudia Englert (2nd Year)


Klaudia obtained her MRes in Nanomaterials in September 2015 from Imperial College London. Her research project “Trace Analyte Biosensing” focused on development a novel label-free platform for the detection of multi-analytes using a combination of nanopore sensing and aptamer screening. She joined the Tucker group the following October as a PhD student. Her research involves the development of new materials containing metal atoms such as platinum and the use of DNA scaffold for their positioning. In her spare time Klaudia enjoys jogging and yoga.


Edward Wilkinson (1st Year)


Ed Wilkinson’s research currently involves synthesizing macrocyclic cyclidene complexes which can be incorporated into DNA for electrochemical sensing applications. He studied for a masters in Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. He is a huge sports fan, supporting Birmingham city FC and enjoys playing football, rugby, tennis and squash to name a few. Outside of sports he also plays the guitar.

Dr. Jean-Louis Duprey


Jean-Louis was born in London in 1982. He obtained his MChem at St. John’s College Oxford in 2005, completing his Part II in fluorescent PET anion sensing under the supervision of Paul Beer in the ICL. He then undertook his PhD within the Tucker group, his work focussing on the use of anthracene tagged oligonucleotides for DNA base discrimination. Following his PhD Jean-Louis spent two years as a post doc in the Shionoya group, Tokyo, where his research focus was on the development of metal mediated DNA three-way junctions. Jean-Louis returned to the Tucker group in 2012. His main interests outside chemistry include tennis and football.


Dr. Huy Nguyen

Huy obtained his MSci in 2003 from Queen Mary, University of London. He then stayed on to do a PhD with Dr Chris Richards until 2007, titled “ Metallocene-Pyrrolidinopyridine Nucleophilic Catalyst for organic transformations”. This was quickly followed by an 18 months JSPS postdoctoral fellowship in the group of Professor Shu Kobabayshi at the University of Tokyo. Working on the developement of sulfonylimidate as a new nucleophile. Huy Joined the Tucker group in March 2009 on an EPSRC fellowship to work on the synthesis and developement of ferrocene-tagged DNA. Interest includes football, squash, an armchair supporter of Liverpool.

Dr. Haydn Little 


Haydn was born in Tywyn, Wales. Haydn joined the University of Birmingham in 2007 where he obtained a MSci in Chemistry, his final year project involved work towards 2,3,4 trisubstituted piperidines as anticancer drugs with Dr John Snaith. As part of the new MIBTB Doctoral Training Centre Haydn works in collaboration with both the School of Chemistry and School of Biosciences. His project focuses on the development of novel DNA based biosensors utilising bio-macromolecule scaffolds. In his spare time Haydn enjoys playing golf, watching Rugby and visiting the theatre.Break

Dr. David Kershaw

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David was born in Stockport in 1988. He obtained his MChem from Newcastle University in 2011, completing his research project on the application of an Intramolecular Chirality transfer via a Meerwein Ponndorf Verley reduction.He is now part of the Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences (PSIBS) Doctoral Training Centre, where he obtained an MSc and is now working towards his PhD. He is working under the joint supervision of Prof. Jim Tucker, Prof. Zoe Pikramenou, Prof. Roy Bicknell and Dr Iain Styles investigating the use of gold nanoparticles for the delivery of nucleic acids. Enjoys any sports, Stockport County fan regardless of which league they are relegated to.

Dr. Jonathan Kedge


Jon was born in Birmingham. He obtained his MSci in Chemistry from the University of Birmingham in 2012, where he worked on his Masters project with Dr. Paul Davies. He joined the Tucker group in September 2012 and his work focusses on the synthesis of ferrocene nucleic acid analogues. In his spare time Jon very much enjoys music and partakes in the occasional piece of dramatic arts, he is also an exceptional eater of burittos.Break

Dr. Rosie Bamford


Rosie was born in Edinburgh in 1987. She obtained an MPhys in Physics from the University of St Andrews in 2010. She is now part of the Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences (PSIBS) Doctoral Training Centre, where she obtained an MSc and is now working towards her PhD. She works under the supervision of Prof. Jim Tucker in collaboration with Prof. Gerard Nash and Prof. Roy Bicknell. She is developing fluorophore-tagged DNA probes for cellular imaging applications. In her spare time she enjoys playing the bagpipes and caber tossing.

Dr. James Carr-Smith


James was born in Bristol (England) in 1988. He obtained his M.Sci from the University of Birmingham in 2011, in which his project focussed on the application of a Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer towards investigation of biological tissues. He joined the Tucker group the following September as a PhD student and his research involves the synthesis and development of an array of novel surface bound ferrocene tagged DNA biosensors. In his spare time James enjoys playing cricket and is an avid Chelsea fan.

Dr. Gemma Bullen


Gemma was born in Essex in 1988. She completed her MSci at the University of Birmingham working within Dr Anna Peacock’s group for her dissertation researching into coiled coil peptides, their metal coordination and DNA binding. She decided to stay on at the university to complete her PhD as part of the Tucker group in collaboration with Dr Anna Peacocks group. She is currently researching into anthracene tagged DNA probes. In her spare time she enjoys music, going to the cinema and socialising.

Dr. Michel-Franck Boissonnet


Michel-Franck was born in Valence (France) in 1986. He obtained his Masters degree in organic chemistry at the University of Grenoble in 2010, with a thesis on photo-oxidation using diruthenium complexes, under the supervision of Dr. Olivier Hamelin. He then joined the Tucker group as a PhD student to study the control over catalysis outcome (olefin metathesis, gold catalysis) by weak interactions (H-bonding) using a ferrocene template.

Dr. Pete Thornton


Pete was born in Rugby in 1988. He obtained his M.Sci in chemistry at The Univeristy of Birmingham in 2010, completing his research project on tetra-substituted ferrocene derivatives. He joined the Tucker group as a PhD student later that year and his current area of research involves the synthesis of new interlocked structures using a Hamilton binding motif.

Dr. Antoine Sallustrau


Antoine was born in Paris (France) in 1984. He obtained his first year of Master in chemistry at the university of Paris V René Descartes in 2007. The same year, he integrated the second year at the engineer school of chemistry, physics and biology of Bordeaux (ENSCBP). He obtained his master (2nd year) diploma at the same time as his engineer diploma in September 2009. He joined the Tucker Research group as a PhD student in October 2009. Interests are travelling, music (playing the guitar), cinema.

Dr. Jack Manchester


Jack was born in London (1987), he obtained his bachelors degree at the University of Birmingham in 2008 and worked within the Tucker group on his dissertation, studying interlocked supramolecular structures. After a year out working as a science technician, Jack has returned to the Tucker group as a PhD student in 2009 and is currently working on anthracene tagged, duplex and quadruplex DNA structures.Break

Dr. John Zhao


John was born in China and obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at Nankai University. He then completed his Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Colin Reese at King’s College London, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship with Marvin Caruthers at University of Colorado Boulder. He was employed at Cruachem Ltd at Glasgow followed by various works that included University of Dundee, with David Lilley, University of Southampton, with Tom Brown. He took up a fellowship position with Jim Tucker in 2009. His research interests include synthesis of nucleic acids derivatives and application in biological systems such as ribozyme and triplexes, using FRET, fluorescent quenching and gel electrophoresis techniques. His hobbies include travelling and sports such as swimming and football.

Dr. Andrea Mulas


Andrea was born in Carbonia (Italy) in 1985. He obtained his Laurea (BSc equivalent) in Chemistry at Università degli Studi di Cagliari in 2007 and his Laurea Specialistica (MChem equivalent) in Coordination Chemistry at Università degli Studi di Cagliari in 2009 with a thesis in supramolecular chemistry, working on the synthesis and study of the selectivity of novel neutral amidic receptors for anions, under supervision of Dr. Claudia Caltagirone. He joined the Tucker group as a PhD student in October 2009. Other interests are singing, hiking and travelling.Break

Dr. Giorgio Mirri


Giorgio was born in Rome (Italy) in 1981. He obtained his Laurea (BSc equivalent) in Chemistry at Università La Sapienza in Rome in 2005 and his Laurea Specialistica (MSci equivalent) in Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry at the same University in 2007 with a thesis in supramolecular chemistry, about the synthesis of rotaxanic systems constituted by a macrocyclic salophen Zn complex and linear amines, under supervision of Prof. Antonella Dalla Cort. He joined the Tucker group as a PhD student in October 2007 working on ferrocene-based chiral sensors. Other interests are travelling and playing chess.Break

Dr. Luciana Giordano


Luciana was born in Santa Fe (Argentina). She obtained her Licenciate in Chemistry degree (1997) and PhD in Organic Chemistry (2006) at University of Buenos Aires. Her thesis was done in synthesis of photochromic diheteroarylethene and their application as acceptors of FRET (Fluorescene resonance energy transfer) under the supervision of Dr Elizabeth Jares-Erijman. Then 2 years post-doc at Edinburgh in supramolecular chemistry under the supervision of Prof Dave Leigh. As a member of the Tucker group she worked on aziridine based molecular switches. Her main interests outside chemistry include swimming, game of bridge, cooking and travelling.

Dr. Mathias Rocher


Mathias was born in 1980 in Meaux (France). He obtained a Engineer diploma at CPE Lyon (France) in 2004, and the same year a DEA in organic chemistry (MChem equivalent) at Claude Bernard – Lyon-1 University, which included a research project under the direction of Dr Maurice Médebielle on the electrosynthesis of heterocycles containing the COCF2 moiety. In 2005, he went on to take a PhD position in the Tucker group on the synthesis of new interlocked structures using H-bonding and anthracene dimerisation.

Dr. Yasmine Willener


Yasmine was born in 1978 in Switzerland. She obtained her Master Degree in 2003 at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). Her Master Thesis was done in coordination chemistry under the supervision of Prof. H. Stoeckli-Evans. After a 4-months industrial traineeship (Lonza AG Research Center, Visp, Switzerland) she moved to USA to work with Prof. B. Lipshutz (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA) as a post-graduated research fellow in organic chemistry for 18 months. She then started a PhD in the Tucker group working on a project that develops ferrocene-based redox enantioselective sensors. She obtained her PhD in 2008.

Dr. Nina Moran


Nina was born in 1979 in Torquay (England). She obtained an MChem with honours in 2002 at Exeter University which included a research project on bis-ferrocene receptors for simple carboxylic acids. She then went on to take a PhD position in the Tucker group on novel anthracene-containing, fluorescent gene sensors. She moved with the Tucker group to Birmingham and obtained her PhD in 2005 other interests: travelling, painting and forensics.BreaBreak

Dr. Yann Molard


Yann Molard was born in Auxerre (France, Burgandy) in 1974. After a D.E.A. in Inorganic Chemistry in 1996 during which he worked with Dr. Jean-Marie Basset on surface organometalic chemistry, he did a PhD (1997/2000) with Pr. Helene Parrot-Lopez and Pr. Jean-Bernard Regnouf de Vains in the field of Supramolecular chemistry and more particularly on calixarene assemblies in the university Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (France). He obtained a non permanent position of lecturer in the same university (1 year, 2000/2001) and worked on molecular modelisation of catalysts grafted on oxyde surface with Dr. J. M. Basset. Then he went to the engineering school INSA Lyon for another non permanent lecturer position (1 year, 2002/2003) and worked with Pr. Jean Francois Gerard (Laboratory of Macromolecular Material) on the molecular modelisation of interactions between polymers and non-modified and modified silica surfaces. He obtained a post doctoral research associate position in the Jim Tucker group, to work on anthracene containing molecular photoswitchable receptors for neutral guest. He is nowadays Maître de conférences in the University of Rennes (France). You can visit his web page by following this link. Other interest: Informatic and molecular modelisation, webdesign, music.