Andrew Mayes


  • 1.25 Chemistry

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Personal profile


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I began my career as a biochemist and did a PhD in physical biochemistry at the interface between biochemistry and chemical engineering (both at the University of Bath).  I then spent two years at the Chemical Centre in Lund, Sweden as a Royal Society Travelling Fellow, working in the field of molecular imprinting with Prof. Klaus Mosbach, one of the key innovators in the field.  Following that I returned to the UK and worked at the Institute of Biotechnology in Cambridge, working for 4 years with Prof. Chris Lowe on the development of mass producible chemical sensors based on optical holograms.  I was then appointed to a lectureship in chemistry at UEA in 1999 and have been here ever since, being promoted to Senior lecturer in 2006.

My research revolves around designing custom polymers and materials and applying them to address problems in chemical analysis and drug delivery.  I have also become increasingly focused on environmental analytical problems and in particular the detection of microplastics in a wide variety of samples.  Further details appear on my research pages.

I am passionate about science communication and in particular outreach and engagement work with schools.  I have run an annual heat of the RSC Schools’ Analyst Competition at UEA for the past 14 years and organised the national final of the event in 2007.  I have also done many polymers, materials, spectroscopy and forensic schools events (both at UEA and in schools) to a variety of different age groups from 5 to 18.  I am a partnership Governor at my local high school (Pakefield High School, Lowestoft) and also serve on the committee of the RSC Analytical Division East Anglia Region, which organises a variety of technical and social meetings for the analytical community.


Selected Publications

T Maes, R Jessop, N Wellner, K Haupt, AG Mayes.
A rapid-screening approach to detect and quantify microplastics based on fluorescent tagging with Nile Red.
Scientific Reports 7 (2017) 44501.

M Panagiotopoulou, Y Salinas, S Beyazit, S Kunath, L Duma, E Prost, AG Mayes, M Resmini, B Tse Sum Bui, K Haupt. 
Molecularly imprinted polymer coated quantum dots for multiplexed cell targeting and imaging
Angewandte Chemie 128 (29) (2016), 8384-8388.

JC Bear, N Hollingsworth, PD McNaughter, AG Mayes, MB Ward, T Nann, G Hogarth, IP Parkin.
Copper-Doped CdSe/ZnS Quantum Dots: Controllable Photoactivated Copper(I) Cation Storage and Release Vectors for Catalysis.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 53(6) (2014) 1598-601.

Y. Fuchs , S. Kunath , O. Soppera , K. Haupt , and A.G. Mayes.
Molecularly Imprinted Silver-Halide Reflection Holograms for Label-Free Opto-Chemical Sensing.
Adv. Funct. Mater. 24 (2014) 688-694


  • BSc Biochemistry (Bath) 1987
  • PhD Biochemistry (Bath) 1992  
  • Royal Society Fellow (University of Lund, Sweden) 1992-1994
  • Research Associate (University of Cambridge) 1994-1999
  • Lecturer in Chemistry (university of East Anglia) 1999-2006
  • Senior Lecturing in Chemistry (university of East Anglia) 2006 - present

Key Research Interests

The Mayes group works at the interface between smart polymers and nanostructured materials to develop new approaches to chemical analysis and targeted drug delivery. A particular strength of the group is the application of a wide range of analytical techniques to the characterisation of these often complex materials, to understand their structures and properties better.

A number of projects are being pursued involving designing “smart” polymers (e.g. analyte-selective hydrogels or molecularly imprinted polymers - MIPs) and grafting them onto nanoparticles to provide new assay configurations or new approaches for drug delivery.  In particular we are interested in grafting thin films of MIPs onto organic or inorganic cores to develop robust and inexpensive “plastic antibodies” that might replace biological antibodies in assays and (bio)chemical sensors. We also work on developing complex hierarchically-structured MIPs (collaboration with Prof. K. Haupt, UTC Compiegne, France). 

In the area of drug delivery we are especially interested in thermosensitive polymer materials that respond to small changes in temperature by undergoing changes to their properties (e.g. collapsing hydrogels or liquids that turn into gels).  Combining these materials with the ability to heat objects using magnetic hyperthermia – a process involving exposing materials containing superparamagnetic nanoparticles to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields - allows us to create novel composite nanomaterials whose properties can be tuned and switched on demand. We have recently developed a model colonic drug delivery system exploiting this process and now wish to develop these concepts into new materials and new areas of drug delivery.

We pursue a variety of activities related to applying modern spectroscopic and optical sensing techniques.  Recent work has focused on novel coatings on optical fibres to create Lossy Mode Resonance sensors able to detect a variety of chemical analytes (with Miguel Hernéez – Marie Curie Research Fellow).  Over the last few years we have increasingly focused on developing new analytical approaches to address measurement problems in marine science, particularly marine sediments, in association with Cefas. We have  developed visual colourimetric sensors for sediment pH and iron profiling and are becoming increasingly interested in microplastics and their identification and quantitation.  This is a topic of rapidly increasing concern and importance.  In association with collaborators at Cefas, we have developed a new high-throughput measurement technique for counting microplastic particles which is rapidly making an impact in the field and are currently working on a number of enhancements and related strategies to improve particle identification and work in challenging samples.

External Activities


  • EPSRC college member for about 10 years
  • Member of RSC Analytical Division East Anglia committee for more than 10 years, including a period as chair
  • Reviewer for >10 analytical/materials/polymers journals (ACS, RSC, Wiley, Springer etc.) since 1999
  • PhD external examiner for >10 theses in UK, France and Spain
  • Promoting RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase Programme - RSC Analytical Research Forum


  • Invited Speaker – MIP2012 Paris, France

Enterprise and Engagement activities

  • Organised heats of RSC Schools’ Analyst Competition since 2003
  • National final organiser RSC Schools’ Analyst Competition, 2007
  • BBC Learning Zone programme on Smart Polymers, 2005
  • Science week at Pakefield Primary School, Lowestoft 2009.  Part funded through a Royal Society grant.
  • Numerous spectroscopy, polymers and forensic schools events to all age groups, both at UEA and in schools and colleges.  Activities have been organised since 2000 and vary from year to year.
  • Consultancy work -  SME, Multinational company and Government Agencies.  Various contracts since 2000 and also informal contributions to several local SMEs in the areas of materials, chemical sensors and general analytical support.

Teaching Interests

I teach a variety of topics at all levels from year 1 to masters, mostly involving analytical and materials chemistry.  I was heavily involved in setting up the new School of Pharmacy at UEA and taught analytical chemistry to pharmacy students for a number of years.  More recently, I have been contributing to the development of forensic chemistry at UEA and particularly focus on analytical techniques and materials relevant to examination of physical trace evidence, which is taught through a combination of lectures and small group hands-on “casework” sessions

Administrative Posts

  • Coursework Director
  • Member of Extenuating Circumstances Panel
  • Member of the Examination Board
  • Member of the CAP Safety Committee
  • School Radiation Protection Officer
  • Member of University Radiation Protection Committee
  • Module Organiser for Instrumental Analytical Chemistry (Level 5)
  • Module Organiser for Forensic Chemistry – Analysis (Level 5)


  • QD Chemistry
  • Polymer chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Molecular imprinting
  • Hydrogels
  • Microparticles
  • Nanoparticles
  • Drug delivery
  • Magnetic hyperthermia
  • Chemical sensors
  • High temperature chromatography
  • Nanoparticle coatings
  • Separation science
  • Nanoparticle synthesis/characterisation
  • Chemical sensor development
  • Polymer microparticles
  • Polymer self-assembly


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or