News & Events

Ashley Beckstead Visiting from Montana State University

Ashley Beckstead from Montana State University and the laboratory of Professor Bern Kohler, is visiting our group for two weeks to investigate the non-adiabatic relaxation dynamics of violacein molecules in various solutions.

Welcome to new PhD students Marta, Victoria and Fred

We are delighted to welcome Marta Duchi, Victoria Taylor and Fred Cascarini, three new PhD students who have started in the group this month.  More details about their research interests can be found in the links from our Who Are We page.

New EPSRC grant for Tom Oliver

Congratulations to Tom Oliver whose EPSRC First Grant entitled “Exploring Delocalised Energy Transport in Bacterial Reaction Centres” has been approved for funding. The research project will investigate the energy and charge-transfer pathways between constituent pigments in reaction centres (RCs) of Rhodobacter sphaeroides. RCs play a pivotal role in photosynthesis, accepting energy from peripheral light harvesting antenna and using it to induce charge-separation into electrons (and holes) with high quantum efficiency. The electrons are used to drive essential downstream processes such as carbon fixation and carbohydrate synthesis. This work will be carried out in collaboration with Dr Mike Jones from Biochemistry. More details at:

Journal of Chemical Physics Poster Prize

Congratulations to Rebecca Ingle who won a poster prize at the Future of Chemical Physics conference held at the University of Oxford.  This AIP Publishing Horizons conference was sponsored by the Journal of Chemical Physics with the objective of facilitating conversations between innovative researchers at the forefront of chemical physics and shaping the future of the field.  Rebecca’s winning poster was entitled “Structure or Dynamics: What Drives Photoproduct Branching at Conical Intersections?” and she received her award from Prof Marsha Lester, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chemical Physics.

BFWG Scholarship for Rebecca Ingle

Congratulations to Rebecca who has been awarded the Margaret K. B. Day Scholarship by the British Federation of Women Graduates.  This award is for a woman in the third year (or part-time equivalent) of doctoral studies and recognizes Rebecca’s academic excellence.

Nature Chemistry paper published

Michael Grubb and Philip Coulter are the lead authors on a new paper in Nature Chemistry which describes the ultrafast photodissociation of BrCN in perfluorocarbon solvents.  The CN radical is highly translationally and rotationally excited when the Br–CN bond breaks, and transient absorption spectroscopy measurements combined with molecular dynamics simulations show how the CN cools through interactions with the solvent molecules.  The paper can be found at the Nature Chemistry website.

New ultrafast microscopy capability

Tom Oliver, Marta Duchi and Henkjan Gersen (Bristol Physics) have obtained an ultrafast microscopy apparatus comprising a femtosecond laser (Coherent Chameleon), optical parametric oscillator (OPO, Coherent), Nikon inverted microscope and other components.  The instrument will be housed in a new ultrafast spectroscopy lab currently being refurbished in the School of Chemistry.

Tom Oliver secures new ultrafast laser system

Congratulations to Tom Oliver who has successfully secured a femtosecond laser made available by the closure of the STFC Laser Loan Pool.  A laboratory is being refurbished to house this new laser system, and Tom will use it for 2D electronic spectroscopy and 2D electronic-vibrational spectroscopy of a variety of ultrafast processes in biomolecules and materials.  The capabilities will complement existing facilities in the group for ultrafast transient IR and UV/visible spectroscopy.

Liu Hao, bon voyage!

Double congratulations to Liu Hao, who successfully defended his PhD thesis last month and whose

paper demonstrating a novel, straightforward and potentially widely applicable route to determining

Stark parameters for atomic transitions by cross-calibration in a multi-element laser-induced plasma

has just appeared in Scientific Reports. [Sci. Rep. 6, 25609 (2016), doi: 10.1038/srep25609].

Welcome to Arsène Chemin

The group welcomes Arsène Chemin who has joined us from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon for a summer internship.  Arsène will be studying ultrafast chemical dynamics using transient absorption spectroscopy.

Welcome to three new group members

The group welcomes three new members who have recently arrived in Bristol.  Chris Hansen joins us from the University of Wollongong where he studied for his PhD with Adam Trevitt.  Mitchell Quinn has come from the University of New South Wales where he carried out doctoral research with Scott Kable.  Marta Duchi is an undergraduate student from the University of Perugia who joins us for 6 months as an ERASMUS visiting student.

PhD studentship vacancies

PhD studentship opportunities are available on two projects in the group:  (1)  Imaging Chemical Dynamics, and (2)  Atmospheric Chemistry of Radical and Biradical Intermediates.  Please see below for further details, and address enquiries to Prof Andrew Orr-Ewing ( or Prof Mike Ashfold (


(1) Imaging Chemical Dynamics:  2 PhD studentships are available to work with Prof Andrew Orr-Ewing and Prof Mike Ashfold as part of the EPSRC-funded Programme Grant “Chemical Applications of Velocity and Spatial Imaging”.   The two positions are based in Bristol, and will make use of our extensive laser and velocity map imaging instrumentation, but will also involve collaborations with colleagues at the University of Oxford.  Further details about the Programme Grant activities are available at the website


(2) Atmospheric Chemistry of Radical and Biradical Intermediates:  applications are invited for a NERC GW4+ DTP studentship with Prof Andrew Orr-Ewing to study the reactions of Criegee intermediates and other important atmospheric radicals. Further details of the project are available here.


Rebecca Ingle chairs international Winterschool in computational chemistry

Rebecca Ingle has chaired several sessions of a 2016 winterschool inspired by the Virtual Conference for Computational Chemistry.  The online winterschool, with invited lectures by international leaders, gives people unable to travel the opportunity to hear talks about cutting-edge research advances. It is based on the principle that science should be open to everyone, regardless of geography and situation. The interactive format allows the audience to ask questions and receive responses from the speakers.  The winterschool covers a broad range of topics in theoretical and computational chemistry, and speakers are encouraged to educate the participants in use of new methods and codes as well as present novel research.  The first online conference in 2015 had 250 participants from 50 countries, and the 2016 version attracted 650 registrations.

Two most-read articles for 2015 in the Journal of Chemical Physics

Articles authored by Tom Oliver and by Mike Ashfold featured in the 2015 most-read list of the Journal of Chemical Physics, a leading international journal published by the American Institute of Physics.  Tom’s article is entitled “Measuring correlated electronic and vibrational spectral dynamics using line shapes in two-dimensional electronic-vibrational spectroscopy” (J. Chem. Phys. 142, 174202 (2015)).  Mike’s article is “Excited state non-adiabatic dynamics of pyrrole: a time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and quantum dynamics study” (J. Chem. Phys. 142, 074302 (2015)).

PhD successes for three group members

Congratulations to Tanya Chase, Barbara Marchetti and Matt Kingston who all recently defended their PhD theses.  Tanya and Matt’s research explored use of cavity enhanced spectroscopy techniques in the infra-red region for trace gas sensing and analysis.  Barbara’s research involved a mixture of velocity map imaging and computational studies of photofragmentation of gas phase molecules.  Barbara will start a TU Munchen Foundation fellowship in February 2016.

Scientific American features our research

Greg Dunning’s Science paper on the dynamics of F atom reactions in acetonitrile solution (Science 347, 530-533 (2015)) has been featured by Scientific American in its 2015 World Changing Ideas package.  The article is entitled “How to Watch a Chemical Reaction in Slow Motion” and can be found at the  Scientific American website.

She’s done it again! Best talk prize for PhD student Rebecca Ingle

Rebecca Ingle has won another best student talk award, this time at the 2015 International Conference on Molecular Energy Transfer in Complex Systems (iCOMET), held in Chengdu, China from 11-15 October 2015.  Rebecca’s talk, entitled “Towards and Understanding of Photoinduced Ring-Opening” reported the results and interpretation of recent ultrafast solution phase photochemical reaction dynamics experiments conducted with collaborator Dr Dan Murdock in Bristol.

Prof Heather Lewandowski visiting

We are delighted to welcome Prof Heather Lewandowski of the University of Colorado who will be visiting the Bristol group for four weeks.

Tom Oliver awarded Royal Society URF

Dr Tom Oliver joins the University of Bristol as a new Royal Society University Research Fellow in September 2015.  Tom worked as a postdoc with Prof Graham Fleming at UC Berkeley where he pioneered new techniques in two-dimensional ultrafast spectroscopy.  He will be establishing a new research group in Bristol to study coupled electronic and vibrational dynamics in biomolecules and materials using 2D spectroscopy methods.  You can find out more about Tom and his research at his website.

Mike Ashfold honoured at International Symposium on Molecular Beams

The biennial International Symposium on Molecular Beams (ISMB) traditionally honours one or more scientists judged to have made distinguished research contributions in the field. Mike Ashfold and Prof. Piergiorgio Casavecchia (Perugia) were so honoured at the 26th ISMB, held in Segovia, Spain in July 2015. The image shows Mike receiving his award from the Symposium Chairs, Profs. Javier Aoiz and Luis Banares.MNRA_ISMB