Stephen Ashworth


  • 0.26b Chemistry

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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 - Deputy 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
  • University Transitions and Induction working group member.
  • University Laser Safety Adviser
  • Laser Safety Officer for Chemistry 


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

Magda van Leeuwen, Andrew Beeby, Stephen H. Ashworth.
The photochemistry and photophysics of a series of non-peripherally substituted zinc phthalocyanines
Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2010, 3, 370-375
DOI: 10.1039/B9PP00107G

Raphael Vallon, Stephen H. Ashworth, Patrick Crozet, Robert W. Field, Damien Forthomme, Heather Harker, Cyril Richard and Amanda J. Ross.
Room-Temperature Metal-Hydride Discharge Source, with Observations on NiH and FeH
J. Phys. Chem. A, 2009, 113, 13159–13166
DOI: 10.1021/jp9033968


  • 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

External Activities

  • Member Norwich Science Fesitval Steering Committee 2019 - present
  • Trustee for the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Technology (CAST) Education.
  • Curator Scifest Africa 2019
  • Member Scifest Africa Advisory Committee 2017 - present
  • EPSRC College member 1997 -2015
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Outreach Steering Committee 2014 - present
  • Chair Norwich Centre for the Institute of Physics 2013-2015, 2018 - present
  • Chair East Anglia Local Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry 2015-2018
  • Scifest Africa Advisory committee 2010 -2016
  • Recorder of the Chemistry Section of the British Science Association 2012-2014
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry since 1999 - FRSC, CChem
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2007- FHEA - from 2002 MILTH then Higher Education Academy Accredited Practitioner the FHEA
  • Member of the Institute of Physics 2006 - present
  • Trustee of the Association of British Spectroscopists 2006 - present
  • Public Engagement Ambassador 2012 - present
  • Chair Norwich Science Olympiad Steering Committee 2008-2013


  • Recipient of three EPSRC awards for public engagement.
  • Chairman of the steering committee for Norwich Science Olympiad 2008-2013
  • Advisory committee of Scifest Africa since 2010 and contributor to Scifest Africa since 2008 – funded by NSF / Royal Society 2008 and Scifest Africa 2009, 2011, 2012 and RSC 2013.
  • Lead (and sole) educator for Futurelearn Kitchen Chemistry online course (MOOC) 14 April 2014 for six weeks.
  • 4 tours as part of the SEEDS (Systemic Education and Extra Mural Support) programme funded by the Dutch Embassy in South Africa.
  • Kitchen Chemistry Outreach Tour in South Africa (£15k funded by RSC)
  • Keynote speaker at the opening of the Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre, 2013.
  • Keynote speaker at the launch of Science Week in the Northern Cape, South Africa 2012.
  • Keynote speaker at Mauritius Science week in 2010.
  • CUE East individual award for engagement in 2009.
  • Manager of Spectroscopy in a Suitcase at UEA since 2008 trained staff at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre (Johannesburg)  to use donated spectrometer July 2013 (funded by RSC).
  • EPSRC panels for public engagement grants.
  • Organised “The Bigger Bang” by Hal Sosabowski at the Theatre Royal November 2011 for International Year of Chemistry.

Esteem in Engagement

  • Norwich Science Festival Steering Committee since 2019
  • Royal Society of Chemstry Inspirational Member Award 2018
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Outreach Steering Committee.
  • Scifest Africa Advisory Committee member since 2010.
  • Recorder for the Chemistry Section of the British Science Association 2012-2014
  • EPSRC panel member considering engagement grants.
  • Chair Norwich Centre of the Institute of Physics 2013-2015


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

  • 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-4202Y - Light, Atoms and Molecules
CHE-4050Y - Skills for Chemists
PHY-4004Y - Acoustics and Laboratory in Physics

Part of the teaching team on:

CHE-4202Y - Light, Atoms and Molecules
CHE-4050Y - Skills for Chemists
PHY-4001Y - Electromagnetism, Optics, relativity and Quantum Mechanics
PHY-4004Y - Acoustics and Laboratory in Physics

CHE-5201Y - Physical Chemistry I
CHE-5250Y - Quantum Theory and Symmetry
PHY-5001Y - Heat, Atoms and Molecules

CHE-6003Y - Advanced Laboratory
CHE-6002Y - Literature Based Project

CHE-7201Y - Advanced Topics in Physical and Nanochemistry

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

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 2013 → …


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