Past group members

Emily Cunliffe

Emily Cunliffe

Emily graduated from the University of Liverpool with a First Class Master of Chemistry in 2022. During her 3rd year, she did a year in industry with Unilever. In her 4th year Emily did her research project on investigating how mechanically recycled high-density polyethylene differs from virgin plastics in terms of its crystallinity and mechanical properties. Over the summer of 2022 Emily did a research internship in the McDonald group in which she developed an automated method to investigate the effect of washing conditions on recycled plastics. Emily joined the McDonald group as a RA in September 2022 working on in situ forming implants.

Emily took some time to go travelling after finishing her role in the group

Edyta Niezabitowska


Edyta graduated with BSc. in Chemical Technology in 2013 and MSc. in Nanotechnology at the Lodz University of Technology in Poland in 2014. Her research during her master thesis was focused on preparation of non-spherical polylactide carriers like drug delivery system. This project was conducted in collaboration with Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Polish Academy of Science in Lodz. In meantime Edyta was laureate of the competition organized in cooperation with Polish Ministry of Treasury and she won 3-month internship in company engaged in transport of crude oil. Edyta carried out a PhD in the McDonald group that was focused on characterising nanomedicines by flow fractionation. Edyta started her PDRA role in May 2019 and is currently researching in situ forming implants for drug delivery.

Edyta went on to join the Rannard group as a PDRA in late 2022.

Dom Gray

Dom graduated from the University of Warwick with a MChem with professional experience in 2014. In his final year project, he researched reversibly crosslinking thermoresponsive nanogels in the group of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly. Dom then completed his PhD in the group of Dr Seb Spain at the University of Sheffield. His project was part of the CDT for polymers, soft matter and colloids and CASE sponsored by BASF. This project was investigating controlled radical polymerization in surfactant-free aqueous conditions. Dom joined the McDonald group in May 2019 and is currently researching in situ forming implants for drug delivery.

Dom went on to join the Giardiello group as a PDRA in late 2022.

George Wilson

George graduated with a first class MChem degree from the University of Liverpool in 2021. During his degree, George completed projects with the McDonald and Blanc research groups. Within the McDonald group, his research focussed on the characterisation of core-shell polymer nanoparticles using online coupled asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation. With the Blanc group, his focus changed to using solid state NMR to elucidate the structural differences between virgin and recycled polymer thermoplastics following mechanical recycling. George has now re-joined the McDonald group to study for a PhD, continuing his work in exploring the structure-property relationships which influence the mechanical properties of recycled polymer thermoplastics.

George went onto work in data analytics for a Gamma.

Peiyao Yan

Peiyao was current PhD student at the Hasell group where she has been working on sulphur polymers. Peiyao worked part-time in the McDonald group on the characterisation of mechanically recycled plastics before returning full time to the Hasell group to complete her PhD.

Dan Harvey

Dan completed his completed my undergraduate degree in 2008, having spent a year in industry from 2006-2007 working at ACCI-UK where I performed endotoxin testing and analysis on prototype medicines, approved medication and sterile replacement joints. He completed his PhD in 2014 My PhD placement was within the UMPF under the supervision of Professor Adam Kowalski, Professor Mathias Brust and Dr Mike Egan. Dan then worked at Unilever R&D Port Sunlight between January 2012 until December 2016 he worked primarily in Hair as an appraisal technologist. In January 2017, Dan returned to the University of Liverpool to work as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate focussing R&D within UMPF under the Academic Direction of Professor Dmitry Shchukin. Dan joined the McDonald group in collaboration with the Shchukin group in 2021 on an Impact Acceleration Award project with Croda.

Dan returned to working at the UMPF in May 2022.

Steph Edwards

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Steph obtained a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry with a Year in Industry from the University of Liverpool in 2014. She undertook her year in industry placement at Reckitt Benckiser (2012-2013) where she worked on innovation for cosmetic emulsion formulations. Steph joined the Rannard group within the nanomedicine partnership in 2014 to study for a PhD, co-supervised by Dr Tom McDonald, investigating mucoadhesive emulsions for the delivery of therapeutic agents. Steph joined the group in October 2018, to work on the development of ocular silicone tamponades in collaboration with Dr Victoria Kearns in the Department of Eye and Vision Science.

Steph finished her role in 2021 and joined Unilever as a Research Scientist.

Josh Turner

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Josh Turner is a KTP Associate currently working with the University of Liverpool and PZ Cussons to develop an ex vivo skin model for self-tanning products. The overall project aim is to direct a new and exciting product innovation to add to PZ Cussons’ St Tropez brand by improving the performance of sunless tanning products, with an emphasis on the use and analysis of penetration enhancer systems. This work is currently being performed at the University of Liverpool Department of Chemistry and Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease. Dr Kevin Hamill and Dr Tom McDonald are both academic supervisors for this project. Prior to this appointment Josh completed his PhD in Inkjet Printing of TiO2, under the tutelage of Prof Helen C. Aspinall and Dr Kate Black, after graduating his MCHEM course at the University of Liverpool.

Josh finished his role in 2021 and went on to work on 3D printing.

Heba Elkateb 

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Heba graduated with a BSc. (Hons) in Pharmacy in 2010 from Mansoura University in Egypt. she was one of the top 10 students of her class and accordingly was appointed as a demonstrator in the pharmaceutics department in Mansoura University (2011-2016). In 2016, Heba was awarded a six -months scholarship funded by both the Egyptian government and Ulster university to do a research project in the pharmacy department. The project  focused on the active targeting of PLGA nanoparticles against anaerobic Clostridium difficile infection.

Heba was awarded the International Postgraduate Research Studentships offered by the chemistry department and joined the McDonald group in January 2017 as a PhD student. She is co-supervised by professor Steve Rannard, her PhD project focused in formulating solid lipid nanoparticles and synthesis of polymeric materials for the active targeting and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Heba completed her PhD in 2021 and started work an Mansoura University in Egypt.

Jessica Taylor


Jess graduated from the University of Liverpool with a first class master’s degree in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology in 2017. She was recently awarded the Syngenta prize in pharmacology for her undergraduate academic achievements. During her degree, Jess has worked on small molecule drug discovery for targeting tropical infectious diseases.

Jess has now joined the McDonald group to start a PhD in nanomedicine for targeted drug delivery in the field of obstetrics. She is thoroughly excited to work in a multidisciplinary field with collaborations between chemistry and pharmacology with a distinct clinical focus.

Jess completed her PhD in 2021 and joined the Rannard group as a PDRA.

Nancy Elbaz

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Nancy graduated with BSc. in Pharmacy and MSc. in Nanotechnology from American University in Cairo in 2014. Her research during her master thesis was focused on preparation of Nanoparticles-based combinatorial therapy for breast cancer. She also awarded a year fellowship From Bayer Pharmaceutical Company in Phillips University Marburg. 

Nancy joined the group, co-supervised by Prof Rannard to study for a PhD focusing on synthesising stimuli-responsive nanocapsules.

Nancy completed her PhD in January 2021 and started a PDRA role in USA.

Adam Town


Adam graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2014 with a 1st class masters degree in Chemistry. For his undergrad project he worked in the group of Prof. Steve Rannard. This involved using controlled radical polymerisation techniques such as ATRP and RAFT in the synthesis of novel polymeric material, leading to a publication of the work.

He also contributes to the department in other ways. For example taking a lead role in setting up a successful peer assisted learning scheme for first year students, and creating a virtual learning environment to aid students and assess their understanding of the maths skills they require for Chemistry. He now helps run the Chemistry society and is keen to increase its scope and success.

Adam joined the McDonald group to study for his PhD, with a focus on nanomedicine drug delivery systems. So far he enjoys the broad scope of the work, which bridges Polymer Science with Pharmacology, and being able to contribute to the future health of society with his research.

Adam finished his PhD in 2018 and joined RSM UK as a R&D tax assistant.

Mona Omir

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Mona graduated with an MSc. in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen in 2013. Her research during her masters was in the field of cancer and investigated structure activity relationship (SAR) of heterocyclic compounds to design potential and selective inhibitors for Jumonji C (JmjC)-domain-containing protein (JMJD2C). Mona is joint supervised between the McDonald and Rannard groups, where she is studying solid lipid nanoparticles and synthesis of polymeric materials for use in drug delivery systems for treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Mona completed her PhD in 2018 and joined Ipsen.

Mark Prestly (2015-2016)

Mark graduated in 2008 with an MSci degree in “Chemistry with Industrial Experience” which gave him the opportunity to work as a medicinal chemist at OSI Prosidion in Oxford for 1 year and work with Prof. Pavel Kocovsky at the University of Glasgow on the creation of new recoverable organocatalysts for the asymmetric hydrosilylation of imines.

Between 2008 and 2012, Mark worked towards obtaining his PhD at the University of Birmingham with Prof. Nigel Simpkins. He worked on the use of chiral lithium amide bases for the asymmetric deprotonation of prochiral ketones and imides. In addition, he carried out work towards the asymmetric total synthesis of the natural product Concavine.

Before starting work in the McDonald group, Mark worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate for Profs. Andy Cooper and Matt Rosseinsky between 2013 and 2015. He carried out the organic synthesis of linkers for metal organic frameworks and the synthesis of intermediates for covalent organic cages.

Mark worked on synthesising implantable drug delivery systems for the controlled release of nanomedicines. He finished his PDRA in 2016 and joined Apex Molecular Ltd.

Craig Wilson (2014-2015)

After carrying out his year 3 project under the supervision of Dr Dave Adams focusing on creating polymer networks for carbon dioxide capturing, Craig is currently undertaking his final year project in the group. His research focuses upon creating porous carriers for use in controlled drug delivery.  He currently enjoys the mix between synthesis and analysis of such materials produced. After his MChem Project Craig went on to do a PhD with Prof Dave Adams in 2015.