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Abbie Whittock (PhD)

PhD Project

Photo of self

I am currently in the second year of my PhD as part of the Analytical Sciences CDT here at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Prof. Vas Stavros and Dr Juan Cebrián (industrial supervisor, Lubrizol). My research focuses on the photodynamics of sunscreen molecules like a lot of the Stavros Group.

The family of molecules that I am interested in are called Mycosporine-like Amino Acids (MAAs). These molecules are synthesised in nature by cyanobacteria, algae and fungi and are believed to act as a natural sunscreen for these organisms and other small organisms that consume them. They are the strongest absorbers known to occur in nature, they have antioxidant properties and are incredibly photostable making them highly desirable to the cosmeceutical industry. The major problem with these molecules is that they are very difficult to obtain in high yields so I am working with a few other students here at the University of Warwick (Adam Cowden and Nazia Auckloo) who are trying to synthesise MAA inspired molecules that can be incorporated within the biosynthesis to improve yields. My research will be centered around performing steady-state experiments and solution-phase transient absorption spectroscopy to begin to understand the photochemical and photophysical properties of MAAs and MAA-inspired molecules. The aim is that a better understanding of the relaxation mechanisms of these molecules will aid their use and the design of future UV filters for commercial use.

Analytical Sciences CDT


Chemistry BSc (2015-2018)

I studied at the University of Birmingham for my Bachelor's degree where I obtained a First Class Honours. I found myself always picking analytical modules which I enjoyed the most and this lead me on to pick an MSc in analytical chemistry.

Analytical Sciences and Instrumentation MSc (2018-2019)

I studied my Master's here at the University of Warwick where I obtained a Distinction. During my Master's I undertook a 20 week individual project under the supervision of Prof. Vas Stavros titled 'Microbial Sunscreens for Better Life'. The work that I am doing now is a continuation of this project.


1. Abiola, T.T.; Whittock, A.L.; Stavros, V.G. Unravelling the Photoprotective Mechanisms of Nature-Inspired Ultraviolet Filters Using Ultrafast Spectroscopy. Molecules 2020, 25, 3945.

2. Whittock, A.L.; Turner, M.A.P.; Coxon, D.J.L.; Woolley, J.M.; Horbory, M.D.; Stavros, V.G. Reinvestigating the Photoprotection Properties of a Mycosporine Amino Acid Motif. Front. Chem. 2020, 8, 881.