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Current Members

Dr Stephen Butler - Lecturer in Synthetic Supramolecular Chemistry

Stephen completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Warwick University in 2004. After a brief period working in polymer chemistry with Prof. David Haddleton, he migrated to Sydney and studied a PhD with Prof. Katrina Jolliffe. Here he developed a keen interest in supramolecular chemistry and molecular recognition; his PhD focused on the synthesis of cyclic peptides for sensing biologically important anions. Following the award of his PhD in 2010, he undertook postdoctoral work at Sydney with Prof. Richard Payne, developing synthetic sulfopeptides to study chemokine-receptor interactions. He then returned to the UK to work with Prof. David Parker FRS at Durham University, creating highly emissive lanthanide complexes for use as optical probes in cellular imaging. In 2013 he was awarded a Ramsay Memorial Fellowship to develop fluorescent molecular probes for the detection of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Stephen was appointed as Lecturer in Synthetic Supramolecular Chemistry at Loughborough University in June 2015.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Christy Siu 

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Christy grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, and completed both her BSc (Hons) and PhD at the University of Auckland under Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble. In her BSc (Hons), she worked towards novel, allosteric inhibitors of the menaquinone pathway in M. tuberculosis, and during her PhD, she worked on exploring scaffolds towards eco-friendly, antifouling compounds. She enjoys running in her spare time, and recently relocated to Loughborough in January 2024 in an effort to develop ratiometric lanthanide-containing probes. 

PhD Students

Caty Marsden (2019-2023)

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Caty was born in Preston, Lancashire, and studied for an MChem at Lancaster University, with a year studying abroad at Queensland University of Technology. For her Master's project, Caty worked with Dr Nick Fletcher, developing tethered ligands, in an attempt to demonstrate control of stereochemistry in tris heteroleptic ruthenium(II) complexes. During her time at Lancaster she enjoyed rowing for the university, and also carried out two summer internships with Dr John Hardy and Dr Michael Coogan. Caty recently moved to Loughborough University to begin her PhD concerned with the development of macromolecular MRI contrast agents. 

Lydia Topping (2020-2023)

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Lydia Topping was born in Preston, Lancashire and studied for a BSc in Medicinal Chemistry at Salford university with and industry placement at Cancer Research UK. During her time at Cancer research, her work focussed on designing and developing Autotaxin inhibitors. For her final year project, Lydia developed novel synthetic methods to synthesise Heperan Sulfate inhibitors in order to block the c-Met/HGF pathway responsible for cancer progression. Lydia joined the Butler group in October 2020 and is developing stable molecular lanthanide tags for site-specific labelling of peptides and proteins, enabling protein interactions to be studied using a combination of NMR and emission spectroscopy.

Jamie Webb (2020-2024)

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Jamie grew up in Merseyside, completing his BSc in Chemistry at Manchester Metropolitan University (2016) before attending Loughborough University to complete his MSc in Pharmaceutical Science and Medicinal Chemistry with Distinction (2018). 

His MSc project was undertaken supervised by Dr. Benjamin Buckley working on the synthesis of novel oxazole and oxindole derivatives towards decarboxylation methods. Jamie is also an elite 800m runner, representing GB on the world stage, making the 2019 World Championships semifinals, and finishing 2nd at the 2019 European Indoors. Jamie started his PhD in October 2020 focussing on the development of ratiometric luminescent probes for detecting reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in biological fluids, supported by Elite Sport PhD funding to enable both his sporting and academic ambitions. 

Hannah Pyle (2020-2024)

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Hannah was born in Texas, USA and moved to the UK in 2003. In 2020, she completed an MChem in Medicinal Chemistry with Year in Industry at Queen’s University Belfast. During her placement year, she completed a research project looking into improving the extraction of extracellular vesicles from plasma and serum at QIMR Berghofer in Brisbane, Australia. For her Master’s project, Hannah worked with Professor Karl J. Hale, developing a synthesis for a tetra-substituted alkene to be used for further mechanistic studies. Throughout Hannah’s time at Queen’s, she was an avid trampolinist and was head coach for her last 3 years. Hannah started her PhD in October 2020 at Loughborough University. Hannah’s project aims to create molecular receptors that bind and sense target biological phosphate anions in water.

Dom Howes (2021-2025)


Dom graduated from Loughborough University in 2021 with an MChem. In his Masters year, he worked with Dr Iain Wright, using DFT to investigate the structure-property relationships of oligofurans and oligothiophenes. In his time as an undergraduate, Dom enjoyed watching Loughborough’s national rugby team and playing football and basketball. Dom’s PhD is focused on using novel lanthanide complexes for the selective sensing of important biological anions through emission spectroscopy. Dom is also an avid F1 and motorsport fan. 

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Kate Jones (2022-2025)

Kate was born in Salford, Manchester and completed her MChem in Chemistry at Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating in 2020. For her final year project, Kate worked on synthesising models of Amavadin, to better understand the biological function of the complex within the funghi, Amanita Muscaria. During her time at MMU, Kate enjoyed competing in Trampolining, running the Chemistry Society and also carrying out a summer research project under Dr Mark McLaughlin. After graduating, she worked at Reckitt's as an analytical assistant on the brand Mucinex, focusing on the analysis of novel dosing formats using HPLC methods. Kate began her PhD at Loughborough in October 2022 to develop existing MRI contrast agents, with pH responsive polymers. 

Alex Frost (2022-2025)

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Alex grew up in Cambridge and completed her BSc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Huddersfield in 2017, followed by her MRes in Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Science at Nottingham Trent University in 2018. She worked with Dr Chris Garner on her project focussing on the synthesis of an α-substituted BODIPY label for organophosphate induced delayed neuropathy binding site target identification. Alex then spent 4 years in industry, notably as the Site Process Chemist at polyurethane foam manufacturer, Recticel Ltd, before joining the Butler group at Loughborough University in October 2022. Her PhD project aims to develop lanthanide tags for new protein conjugation methods to study protein-protein interactions by optical and paramagnetic NMR spectroscopy.

Anthony Owusu-Darko (2023-2026)

Anthony is a multidisciplinary scientist who hails from Ghana. He embarked on his academic journey by earning his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) (2019) where he worked with Dr Alexander Kwarteng studying the frequency of acute filarial attacks among lymphedema patients under the African Research Network for Tropical Neglected Diseases. Anthony furthered his academic pursuits by graduating with distinction in MSc. Analytical Chemistry from Loughborough University (2021). His MSc. project was about flow electrochemical sensors for the detection of analytes under the supervision of Dr Mark Platt. Upon completion of his master’s degree, Anthony worked with Figura analytics to improve and send to market their innovative nanopore sensing technology used in characterisation of particles in a range of solutions. Anthony began  his PhD in Loughborough University (October, 2023) to develop an array based multi analyte sensor using responsive polymer probes embedded in hydrogels under the supervision of Dr Helen Willcock, Dr Stephen Butler and Dr Russell Lock.

Lea Fritz (2023-2026)

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Lea grew up near the city of Münster, Germany, before moving to the UK for her M.Sci in Natural Sciences at Loughborough University, which she completed in 2023. Her Bachelor’s project in the group of Prof Paul Roach focused on the development of photocleavable self-assembled monolayers controlling cell attachment to surfaces, while her Master’s project in the group of Prof Roach in collaboration with Dr Marc Kimber was based around synthesising and testing a novel Tröger’s base analogue for the treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme. Lea also completed an internship in the R&D department of Reckitt during her degree, working on their market-leading “Finish” dishwashing detergents. She started her PhD in the Butler group in October 2023, developing lanthanide-based probes capable of selectively detecting phosphate in aqueous environments as part of the EcoSENSE research cluster.  

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