UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


Congratulations to Dr Nidhi Kapil!

2 November 2021


Warm congratulations to Nidhi Kapil from the NICE Group in the UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE) and the Department of Chemical Engineering for officially obtaining her PhD degree on 28 October 2021!

In July, Nidhi successfully defended her PhD thesis on “Supported gold catalyst materials with locally controlled chemical and geometric environments for enhanced propylene epoxidation”, carefully examined by Professors Chris Hardacre (University of Manchester) and Gopinathan Sankar (UCL Chemistry). Her thesis was co-advised by Professor Marc-Olivier Coppens and former CNIE postdoc, Dr Michael Nigra, who is now Assistant Professor at the University of Utah (USA), and it was sponsored by SABIC. We are very grateful to David West (Houston, USA) and Xander Nijhuis (Geleen, the Netherlands) for their extensive support, financially and in a close scientific collaboration that made this work possible.

In her PhD research, Nidhi expanded her talents as an outstanding chemist (MSc from Panjab University with two first-authored papers in Angewandte Chemie) to become an accomplished, hands-on engineer, building her reactor setup for propylene epoxidation. She discovered a new, simpler synthesis route for gold nanoparticles of a controlled size that, supported on TS-1 zeolite, prove to be very stable and efficient catalysts. This is very important for industrial applications. Some of this work was recently published in Angewandte Chemie and Chemical Communications, and another article is in press for the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. She is a co-author on three further journal articles with other NICE group members and has presented her work orally at several leading international conferences, such as ISCRE (Italy), the AIChE annual meeting (USA), and has participated in several UK Catalysis Hub activities.

Beyond this, Nidhi has also been a caring and effective teaching assistant (demonstrator), including for the NICE module, guided MSc students to success, inspired students of all ages in outreach and widening participation activities at UCL, in schools, and most recently on plastic waste reduction and recycling in Hackney. She has also collaborated or initiated new projects. The latest of these is on anti-microbial resistance (AMR) using Au nanoparticles on polymer brushes, together with NICE PhD student Halan Mohamad, even attracting competitive funding for this work themselves. This work is currently ongoing in the CNIE.

Congratulations to Dr Kapil, once again!