Stephen Ashworth


  • 0.26b Chemistry

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Administrative Posts

  • Head of Physics
  • Senior Adviser in Chemistry, Physics and Natural Sciences
  • Student Partnerships Officer - Natural Sciences
  • Chemistry Exam Board
  • Physics Exam Board - Chair
  • Chemistry Teaching Committee
  • Physics Teaching Group
  • Natural Sciences Teaching Executive
  • Natural Sciences Extenuating Circumstances Panel
  • Chemistry, Physics and Natural Sciences Disability Liaison Officer
  • EDI Committee member


Prof. Ashworth was awarded both his BA in Chemistry and his DPhil from Oxford University. Later postdoctoral work was with Professor D.J. Nesbitt at JILA and later with Dr K.M. Evenson at NIST, both of which are in Boulder, Colorado. He was then awarded a Royal Society European Exchange Fellowship and an Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Fellowship to study femtosecond dynamics at the newly established Max-Born Institute in Berlin.

The award of an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship in 1996 allowed him to return to England. The first part of the Fellowship was held in the School of Chemistry at Bristol University. Dr Ashworth was appointed to a post at the UEA in 1999 but chose to transfer the remainder of his Advanced Fellowship and became a Lecturer in 2001. He received the UEA Excellence in Teaching award in 2002.

Although his research career has concentrated on high resolution spectroscopy, and spectroscopy applied to atmospheric chemistry, using a number of laser techniques, he is now much more involved with the communication of science. Over the years has won a number of grants for his communication activities. In 2018 he was awarded an Inspirational Member Award, by the Royal Society of Chemistry, for his Kitchen Chemistry outreach work. In 2009 he was awarded a CUE East Individual Award for Engagement. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of both Norwich Science Festival and Scifest Africa, and was Curator of the 2019 edition of Scifest Africa. 

Selected Publications

Stephen H. Ashworth
Kitchen Chemistry: practical chemistry with simple equipment and readily available materials.
African Journal of Chemical Education, 2018, 8(2), 124 - 143

Susan E. Matthews, Samy Cecioni, John E. O'Brein, Colin J. MacDonald, David L. Hughes, Garth A. Jones, Stephen H. Ashworth and Sebasiten Vidal
Fixing the Conformation of Calix[4]arenes: When Are Three Carbons Not Enough?
Chemistry, a European Journal,  2018, 17, 4436-4444


  • 1991-2 - Postdoctoral research assistant, Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford.
  • 1992-2 - Research Associate, Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
  • 1992-3 - Guest Researcher, National Institute for Standards and Technology Boulder, Colorado, USA.
  • 1993-4 - Royal Society European Exchange Fellow, Max-Born Institut für Nichtlinear Optik und Ultrakurzzeit-Spektroskopie, Berlin, Germany.
  • 1994-6 - Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Fellow, Max-Born Institut für Nichtlinear Optik und Ultrakurzzeit-Spektroskopie, Berlin, Germany.
  • 1996-9 - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Advanced Fellow in the School of Chemistry, Bristol University.
  • 1999-2001 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Advanced Fellow in the School of Chemical Sciences, University of East Anglia.
  • 2001-2008 - Lecturer: School of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of East Anglia.
  • 2008-2009 - Senior Lecturer: School of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of East Anglia.
  • 2009-2011 - Senior Lecturer: School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia and Associate Dean for Admissions (Science Faculty)
  • 2011- 2018 - Reader in Chemistry and Head of Natural Sciences
  • 2018 - 2019 - Reader in Chemistry
  • 2019 - present Professor of Chemical Physics and Science Communication

Research Group or Lab Membership

Energy landscapes of calixarenes

The family of calixarene molecules can exist in many different conformations, each of which has a different energy. I collaborate with Dr Matthews (pharmacy) who synthesises and studies these molecules. My part is to calculate the energies of the conformations, and to try to determine the energetics of chaniging from one conformation to another.

Photophysics of phthalocyanines

Phthaolcyanines have been shown to be active against cancer cells in photodynamic therapy. Professor Mike Cook has a research group which routinely synthesises new phthalocyanine molecules. I collaborate with Prof. Cook to investigate the photophysics of his new products in order to find the best candidates for photodynamic therapy and sensor applications.

Research Group


  • Michael Outten, 2005 (joint with Professor John Plane, Leeds)
  • Fiona Cotterill, 2005 (joint with Professor Michael Cook)
  • Magda van Leeuwen, 2013

Project Students

  • Zhi Lin Zhou (2024)
  • Callum Aldridge (2023)
  • Rosina Poller (2023)
  • Nathan Simei-Cunningham (2023)
  • Robert Shurmer (2023)
  • Soshi Van Vu (2023): Joint with Dr S. Matthews.
  • Isabel Alexander (2023): Joint with Dr S. Matthews.
  • Kieran Stroud (2022)
  • Emma Carlise (2022)
  • Jacob Fromage (2021)
  • Rebecca Parsons (2021)
  • Kieran Stroud (2021)
  • Josh Safier (2021)
  • Emma Carlisle (2021)
  • Harry Woodward (2021)
  • Charlotte Laws (2020)
  • Lloyd Wills (2020)
  • Rebekah Howe (2020)
  • Amy Montovio (2020)
  • Georgia Goswami (2019)
  • Dani Elkinson (2019)
  • Jodie Ward (2018)
  • Pippa Brown (2017)
  • Katherine Springham (2011)
  • Adam Woodward (2008)
  • Paul McNaughter (2007)
  • Celine Hebert-Jimenez (2006 - Erasmus)
  • Katerina Germanis (2005)
  • Chris Sadler (2005)
  • Ben Welsh (2005)
  • David Sadler (2004)
  • Denis Valckenaere (2003 - visitor from Artois)
  • Simon Knights (2003)
  • Lucy Austin (2002)
  • Chris Steil (2002)
  • Clare Masters (2001)

Areas of Expertise

Lasers; spectroscopy; public understanding of science.

Teaching Interests

I teach areas of physical chemistry and physics. This includes quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and skills for chemists and physics.

Module organiser for:
CHE-4202B - Physical Chemistry I
PHY-3001Y - Foundations in Physics
PHY-4005Y - Skills and Laboratory in Physics

Part of the teaching team on:

CHE-4202B - Physical Chemistry I
CHE-4003B - Skills and Laboratory in Chemistry
PHY-4005A - Electromagnetism and Waves
PHY-4001B - Properties of Mater
PHY-4005Y - Skills and Laboratory in Physics

CHE-5201B - Physical Chemistry II
PHY-5001B - Heat, Atoms and Molecules
PHY-5003B - Laboratory in Physics

CHE-6003Y - Advanced Laboratory

SCI9RE6Y - Science Communication

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

External Examiner, University College London

Mar 2023 → …

Senior Editor: Society for Natural Sciences Student Journal, Society for Natural Sciences

1 Oct 2021 → …

Steering Committee Member, Norwich Science Festival

Mar 2019 → …

Steering committee for Grant, Environmental Protection Agency

Jan 2019Dec 2019

External Examiner for Natural Sciences, University of York

1 Oct 201830 Sep 2022

Advisory Committee, Scifest Africa

1 Jan 2018 → …

Member of Outreach Working Group, Royal Society of Chemistry

Sep 2013Sep 2020

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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