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Personal profile


Ph.D and Postdoctoral Opportunities

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Joseph Wright joined UEA as postdoctoral research assistant in 2005, and studied solid-support catalysis and energy materials in the groups of Professor Manfred Bochmann and Professor Chris Pickett, respectively. He was appointed to a faculty position as a Lecturer in Energy Materials in 2012. Prior to his time at UEA, he obtained his PhD the University of Cambridge studying organometallic reaction mechanism, and carried out a two year post-doctoral research post in Southampton.

My research is focussed on understanding reaction mechanism at metal centres, and exploiting this insight to develop new catalytic materials. A key area of interest is biologically-inspired metal complex, many of which have direct relevance to producing new energy materials. As part of the Energy Materials Laboratory I'm also involved in collaborative work across organometallic and bioinorganic projects.

Selected publications

Electronic control of the protonation rates of Fe-Fe bonds

A. Jablonskytė, L. R. Webster, T. R. Simmons, J. A. Wright and C. J. Pickett

J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 13038-13044

DOI: 10.1021/ja506693m


[FeFe] Hydrogenase: Protonation of 2Fe3S Systems and Formation of Super-reduced Hydride States

A. Jablonskytė, J. A. Wright, S. A. Fairhurst, L. R. Webster and C. J. Pickett

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 10143-10146

DOI: 10.1002/anie.201406210


Gold peroxide complexes and the conversion of hydroperoxides into gold hydrides by successive oxygen-transfer reactions

D.-A. Roşca, J. A. Wright, D. L. Hughes and M. Bochmann

Nat. Commun., 2013, 4, 2167

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3167

Paramagnetic Bridging Hydrides of Relevance to Catalytic Hydrogen Evolution at Metallo-sulfur Centers
A. Jablonskytė, J. A. Wright, S. A. Fairhurst, J. N. T. Peck, S. K. Ibrahim, V. S. Oganesyan and C. J. Pickett
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 18606–18609
DOI: 10.1021/ja2087536

External Activities

Committee membership:

  • National Chemical Database Service Advisory Board, 2012 to present
  • ISIS Facilities Access Panel: mouns, 2014 to present

Professional bodies:

  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • American Chemical Society
  • British Crystallographic Association

Research Group Membership

  • Mark Wright, PhD student 2013 to present
  • Sarah Woodhouse, MChem project student, 2015 to present
  • Ross Watcham, MChem project student, 2015 to present
  • Matt Surman, RSC sumer student and MChem project student, 2015 to present
  • Trevor Simmons, PDRA, 2015 to present
  • Farhana Haque, PhD student 2015 to present
  • Rafael Farias Fujita, international exchange student, 2014–15
  • Marie Belcher, MChem project student, 2014–15
  • Kieran Bradley, MChem project student, 2014–15
  • Dhinisa Patel, MChem project student, 2014–15
  • Zoe Vincent, MChem project student 2013–14
  • Kate Sanders-Wilde, BSc project student 2013–14

Key Research Interests and Expertise

CO Releasing Molecules

The synthesis of deliverable organometallic compounds which release the therapeutic small molecule carbon monoxide (CO) when subjected to a suitable ‘trigger’ is currently of significant interest. Carbon monoxide, like nitric oxide (NO), is a vasodilatating substance and has been implicated in the regulation of large number of physiological and pathological processes, including inhibition of platelet aggregation and hormone release. Recognition of these roles has begun to drive research into CO-releasing therapeutics, including initial exploration of metallosystems, but the area is in its infancy.

Based on earlier work in modelling enzyme active sites, we have identified a new family of iron-containing molecules with benign co-ligands and which offer a starting point for research on the dynamics of triggered release. These possess ferracyclic structures analogous to those found at the active site of certain enzymes: an iron atom is held within an organometallic five-membered ring formed and importantly these systems bind up to three CO molecules. The project focuses on synthesising water- and lipo-soluble systems by modification of the ferracyclic ring to ensure deliverability. 

Functionalised models for formate dehydrogenase chemistry

There is an urgent need to develop new approaches to storing and releasing energy, particularly those usable in fuel cells. Formate is a ‘hydrogen carrier’, capable of delivering an equivalent of H2 as a liquid fuel to such devices, and so new routes to this molecule are extremely attractive. The formate dehydrogenase enzymes (FDH) can interconvert CO2 and formate with selectively, with low overpotential and without requiring precious metals (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2008, 105, 10654).The enzyme themselves are too large and oxygen-sensitive to be used in technological applications, and so new catalytically-active chemical models of the active site are urgently needed.

Chemical modelling related to the FDH active site has to date been concentrated on reproducing the metal coordination sphere (see for example Chem. Rev., 2004, 104, 1175). Crucially, there has been no work to introduce hydrogen-bond donors around this core, features which are established as vital in enzyme turn-over (J. Biol. Inorg. Chem., 2006, 11, 849). In a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, we are developing new ligand architectures to introduce secondary coordination sphere donors to enable new catalytic manifolds.

Modelling metalloenzyme functionality

The unique ability of metalloproteins to catalyse economically-important chemistry has attracted a great deal of research attention over the past several years. The possibility of reproducing the functional chemistry of the protein systems offers the chance to harness these abilities in practical catalytic system.

The group has two ongoing research interests focussed on the [FeFe]-hydrogenase and nitrogenase enzymes. In the nitrogenase area, our focus is on mononuclear molybdenum complexes which have the potential to active dinitrogen. The core architectures involved are pincer-based motifs which will support the reactive metal centre. Our work on iron systems is concentrated on the introduction of novel ligand systems around a di-iron core to replicate both the structure and function of the natural systems. We are also interested in understanding the reactivity of these systems using a wide range of advanced mechanistic tools.

Computational probing of organometallic reactivity

The use of computational methods to support synthetic chemistry forms a vital part of modern research. We are interested in applying these approaches to real systems, simulating the structure, spectroscopy and reactivity of target molecules. Recent success in this area is exemplified by our collaboration with the Bochmann group on the identification of key intermediates in gold chemistry.


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