UoA18: UCL Chemistry

Building on its 5* rating in RAE2001, the research profile of UCL Chemistry has advanced strongly during the assessment period, with substantial increases in research outputs, academic staff, funding and studentships.  Underlying this advance are new initiatives in chemical biology, materials chemistry, nanoscience, computational chemistry and ultrafast science, together with a strengthening of core areas of the subject.  The research environment is supported by proactive policies for staff and student development and by extensive improvements in the physical infrastructure of the Department.

A continuing feature of the research strategy of UCL Chemistry has been the affiliation with the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory (DFRL) of The Royal Institution, culminating in the DFRL’s consolidation within UCL in 2007.  Academic staff play key roles in the recently opened London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN), the UCL Centre for Materials Research (CMR), the UCL Centre for Cosmic Chemistry and Physics (CCCP) and the Institute for Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB).  These interdisciplinary initiatives have diversified and enriched the research environment.  The research culture and structure of the Department reflect the defining role of chemistry as a subject which informs and interacts with key areas in both the physical and life sciences.  The Department is committed to maintaining international excellence in all major branches of the subject while fostering emerging multidisciplinary themes through strategic alliances with other Departments and institutions, both within and outside UCL.

The thriving and healthy nature of the research environment at UCL Chemistry is evident from the major developments and achievements of the Department’s research programme during the assessment period:

  • Establishment of a strong and well-supported programme in Chemical BiologyCaddick was appointed in 2003 to lead the initiative, which has been enhanced by recruitment of eight early career staff and by investment of £1.5M SRIF funds
  • Development of a major initiative in Materials Chemistry.  The Materials Chemistry Centre (MCC) was established, with £2.5M of SRIF funds, and interacts with Chemical Engineering in line with the Whitesides report (see 2.2.3)
  • Establishment of the London Centre for Nanotechnology.  Four staff, including an early career staff member supported by the EPSRC Science and Innovation Initiative, are formally affiliated with the LCN which was funded by an £18M SRIF investment (from Imperial and UCL).   Both the MCC and LCN play a major role in the development and application of central synchrotron and neutron facilities
  • New initiatives in Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics.   The appointment of Thornton and Fielding, together with SRIF investment in the Ultrafast Laser Centre (£1.4M) and a laboratory for probe microscopy (£0.4M), have strengthened surface science and dynamics.  Two early career staff positions, in ultracold chemistry and electrochemistry, have given additional breadth
  • Expansion of Computational ChemistryCoveney, recruited in 2002, has attracted over £5M of external funding and has established a major programme including several initiatives in “e-Science”.  Further support has been provided by the recruitment of two RCUK Fellows and the recent (£5M) UCL SRIF investment in terascale high performance computing

The success of this strategy is evident from the improvement in the relevant performance indicators over the assessment period:

  • An increase in full-year annual research spend from £4.2M (2002) to £7.8M (2006)
  • A 67% increase in research studentships (2001-2007)
  • An increase in the number of publications based on research in the Department from 150 per year (1996-2000) to 221 (2001-2006)

In addition the international achievements of the Department’s staff have been recognized by the following awards and fellowships:

The quality of our early-career staff is shown by the award of:

  • 6 EPSRC ARFs
  • 6 Royal Society URFs
  • 5 Marie Curie Fellowships
  • 1 EURYI Fellowship

The Department has a strong internal and external collaborative culture.  For clarity the Department is presented in four groupings between which there are extensive interactions:

  • Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics (PCCP)
  • Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology (OCCB)
  • Materials and Inorganic Chemistry (MIC)
  • Computational Chemistry (CC)

Representative performance indicators are given in Table 1.  The outstanding quality across the breadth of the Department’s research portfolio is shown by an income greater than £100,000 per FTE per annum for all four subject groupings. 

Table 1: Grant income per FTE staff year for the assessment period and demographic data

Grouping Grant income 2001-2007 FTE Staff years 2001-2007
[Cat. A, B & C]
Income per FTE staff per annum Early Career Staff
Staff aged under 35
PCCB £7,423,410 66.72 £111,262 3 3
OCCB £8,141,767 78.99 £103,073 8
 MIC £11,720,785 80.07
£146,382 1 1
 CC £9,186,524 50.98 £180,199 4 1

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Chemistry (pdf 280Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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Page last modified on 13 jan 08 11:36