Helen Willcock
Helen Willcock (Chair) is a Lecturer in Polymer Science in the Department of Materials at Loughborough University. She completed her Master’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Liverpool in 2003 and after a brief period working in a chemical catalogue company, returned to Liverpool to obtain her PhD in 2008, studying the control of the solution properties of dendrimers by varying surface functionality, under the supervision of Professor Steve Rannard and Professor Andy Cooper. After a short Post-Doctoral position with Unilever studying the incorporation of fluorescent tags into dendronised polymers as probes for porous media, Helen moved to the University of Warwick in 2009 to work as a Research Fellow with Professor Rachel O’Reilly. She worked on projects including the control of end group functionality and the synthesis of polymer particles using RAFT polymerisation and was promoted to Senior Research Fellow in 2015.

Her research is focused on the tailoring of polymer 
properties by control over their architecture and the synthesis of stimuli-responsive polymer particles for biomedical applications.

Guillaume De Bo (Secretary)
holds a Royal Society University Research Fellowship at the University of Manchester to investigate the use of mechanical force in synthesis. In 2004 Guillaume obtained a Master in Chemistry from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). He did his master thesis under the supervision of Prof István E. Markó on the development of platinum-based catalysts for the hydrosilylation of alkynes. He completed his PhD in 2009, in the same laboratory, working on the synthesis of angular triquinanes. He then took a post-doctoral position in the laboratory of Prof Jean-François Gohy and Charles-André Fustin (UCL, Belgium) to work on the assembly of mechanically-linked block copolymers. In 2011, he joined the group of Prof David A. Leigh, then in Edinburgh, to work on the development of molecular machines.

Seb Spain (Treasurer) is Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Sheffield ( He received his MChem from the University of Durham and remained there for a PhD in the synthesis and applications of glycopolymers. He then moved to a post-doctoral position in the Dept. of Clinical Pharmacology, Oxford where he worked on polymer-virus conjugates and then the School of Pharmacy, Nottingham to work on responsive materials for drug delivery. 

His current research interests encompass many aspects of biomaterials with a focus on the development of diagnostics and therapeutics for chronic disease.

Jonathan Behrendt (Industrial Liaison) was born in Weybridge, Surrey in 1980. In 2001 he graduated from Exeter University with a BSc in Chemistry and Law. Deciding to pursue the scientific side of his degree further, he studied for a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from University College London, under the supervision of Dr Helen Hailes, which he was awarded in 2005. Following a short postdoctoral project in within the Hailes group at UCL, he went on to work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Aston University from 2006-2009, in the research group of Dr Andrew Sutherland, synthesising fluorescent polymer microspheres and quantum dot-polymer conjugates and exploring their use as for bioconjugation and cellular delivery. Jon continued his research career as a Project Scientist at the University of Manchester in the research group of Professor Micheal Turner from 2009-2013. Within this role he worked closely with industrial partners on a range of projects including synthesis and characterisation of organic semiconductors for use in biosensors and imaging. Following a short stint in a temporary lectureship role teaching Polymer Chemistry in the School of Materials, Jon left Manchester to pursue his further career in an industrial role. He currently holds the position of Postdoctoral Researcher - Biochemistry with Cambridge Display Technology.

Francisco (Paco) Fernandez-Trillo has recently joined the School of Chemistry in Birmingham as a Birmingham Fellow working on Biomedical Applications of Nanotechnology. After graduating from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where he did his PhD on natural product synthesis, Paco's research has moved to the chemistry-biology interface and the development of novel polymeric materials for nanomedicine. The multidisciplinary nature of his research has been promoted through different post-doctoral positions, both in the UK (Durham and Nottingham) and Spain (Santiago de Compostela) where Paco had the chance to develop polymeric materials for biocatalysis, cell recognition and adhesion, MRI, synthetic biology and the development of novel antibiotics. Polymeric materials, because of their intrinsic multivalent nature and ability to assemble at the nanoscale, are extremely suitable to interfere with biological systems. Because of this, the main goal of Paco's research it to precisely design, synthesise, and characterise novel polymeric materials that can interface with natural systems, and at present, a strong focus is placed on the development of novel antimicrobials. In his research group, they employ a combination of organic, polymer and analytical chemistry, together with imaging and microbiology to be able to understand how these materials interact with bacteria and what are the consequences for bacterial behaviour and metabolism. This is of great importance for the development of new and efficient antibiotics.

Michael Cook (Website Content Manager) is is a Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at the University of Hertfordshire, within the Topical Drug Delivery and Toxicology research centre. 

He was awarded his PhD in 2013 from the University of Reading, for his work on the microencapsulation of synbiotics. He stayed at Reading as a postdoc in the Khutoryanskiy group, investigating the use of glycopolymer hydrogels for use as substitute mucosal membranes. His research interests lie the development of materials for mucosal drug delivery, including hydrogels, in situ gelling systems, and particulates. 

Dr Aram Saeed (International Rep)
 is currently a lecturer in Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering in the School of Pharmacy at University of East Anglia. Dr Saeed’s research lab work on the development of engineered targeted drug delivery systems, and tissue engineering scaffolds as 3D cell culture matrix, injectable delivery systems for biotherapeutics or implantable regenerative medical devices. Prior to his recent appointment, Saeed has held positions with the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine and Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials - gained experiences in Tissue regeneration and repair.  He obtained his PhD in Pharmacy from the University of Nottingham. 

Chris Holland 
is a comparative evolutionary biologist working in the field of natural materials. He currently holds a Lectureship and EPSRC Early Career Fellowship in the department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield ( Previously he undertook his BA in Biological Sciences, MSc in Integrative Biosciences, D. Phil and Fellowship By Examination at Oxford University whilst working in the Oxford Silk Group ( His research uses tools developed for the physical sciences to better understand Nature's materials, from latex to collagen, but with a focus on silk. By investigating unspun silk's flow properties he has been able to gain unique insights into their biodiversity, structure and evolution. Additionally, this work has made important links between natural and industrial fibre processing which has lead to a fundamentally new way of designing, testing and fabricating bio-inspired materials. Today he combines multiple instruments with rheology, from microscopes (confocal) and spectrometers (IR) to synchrotrons (SANS at ISIS and SAXS/WAXS at ESRF) in order to understand exactly how silk proteins arrange themselves into one of Nature's most impressive materials. He also sits on the scientific advisory board of Oxford Biomaterials which commercialises high-tech silk-based devices for a range of medical and non-medical applications (

Barny Greenland is a Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Reading. His research interests are the synthesis and molecular level understanding of new supramolecular, functional materials with applications in biomedical science. His highly interdisciplinary research covers many areas including: Healable supramolecular materials, novel hydrogels for water purification and drug delivery, sensors for the detection of volatile compounds including explosives and biomarkers and the production of synthetic drug and gene delivery vectors.

Subpages (1): Former Committee Members