Mechanistic insights into homogeneous catalysis

Degree type


Closing date

6 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The chemical industry is built on advanced catalytic reactions, and only these processes can ensure the long-term production of high-value molecules. This project attempts to facilitate the design of novel catalysts and catalytic reactions by enhancing collaboration between theoretical and synthetic chemists. To attain this aim, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the mechanisms behind catalytic reactions. The complexity of the reaction mechanisms means that experimental findings alone are not able to fully elucidate them. However, computational chemistry by invoking the experimental findings can provide a more complete insight into the mechanism of metal-catalysed reactions. In this regard, for example, we recently reported that the reactivity of the gold complexes can be extended well beyond direct π-activation. We found that the gold complexes are indeed able to generate electrophiles that are more reactive toward π-activation than a gold complex itself (see: ACS Catal. 2021, 11, 9, 5795–5807; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 14599; Chem. Commun. 2016, 52, 9422). This project is aimed at investigating the mechanisms of similar processes in which metals are used to serve as a source for generating strong electrophiles which are capable of catalysing reactions such as functionalization of Olefines. We will utilize the information gained by investigating reaction mechanisms to the development of new catalytic reactions with the objective of experimentally establishing their viability.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Alireza Ariafard


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Alireza Ariafard to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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