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Prof. Michael Ward

Head of Department and Professor of Inorganic Chemistry


Mike did his BA at Cambridge, studying Natural Sciences (1983-1986). He remained in Cambridge for his PhD (1986-1989) with Ed Constable, studying early examples of helicate complexes. After a post-doc with Jean-Pierre Sauvage in Strasbourg playing with catenates, he started his independent academic career in Bristol in 1990. After 13 years there he moved to Sheffield in 2003, and after 14 years in Sheffield, he moved to the University of Warwick in 2017 where he is currently Head of Department.

Mike's interests are all based around the coordination chemistry of transition metal and lanthanide ions and their multinuclear assemblies; in particular, current emphases in his research are (i) self-assembly and host-guest chemistry of hollow metal/ligand cage complexes, and (ii) photophysical properties of polynuclear complexes and supramolecular assemblies, including applications in imaging and sensing. Awards from the RSC for his research include the Corday Morgan medal for 1999, the 'Chemistry of the Transition Metals' award for 2005, and Supramolecular Chemistry award for 2016.

Mike has been involved with the RSC in various capacities including two stints on Dalton Council, one on the editorial board of Dalton Transactions, and was Editor-in-Chief of the journal ‘RSC Advances’ from 2011-17.

M dot D dot Ward at warwick dot ac dot uk

024 765 74696

Office C5.08 

Chem-HoD-PA at warwick dot ac dot uk

PA - Rachel Mosses

024 765 23815

Office C5.09


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry


  • 1986, BA from Cambridge
  • 1989, PhD from Cambridge (with Ed Constable)
  • 1989-1990, Post-doctoral research in Strasbourg (with Jean-Pierre Sauvage)
  • 1990-2003, Lecturer / Reader / Professor at University of Bristol
  • 2003-2017, Professor of Chemistry at University of Sheffield
  • 2017-current, Professor of Chemistry and Head of Department, University of Warwick

I am working on the following projects at the moment:

I am currently interested in two main areas of research, both based around coordination and supramolecular chemistry:

1) Self-assembly and host-guest chemistry of coordination cages.

Coordination cages are hollow, pseudo-spherical metal complexes which self-assemble from metal ions and bridging ligands. They have elaborate and beautiful structures, and can bind small molecule ‘guests’ in the central cavity. This host-guest chemistry can result in useful properties and applications such as catalysed reactions of guests bound in the cavity; pH-dependent uptake and release of drug molecules; binding of gas molecules; and photoinduced electron transfer from a cage to a bound guest.

2) Photophysical properties of metal complexes and metal complex assemblies.

Luminescence from metal complexes based on transition-metal (d-block) or lanthanide (f-block) ions has applications in a wide range of areas from solar energy harvesting to analysis and bio-imaging. We are interested in the fundamental studies and applications of luminescent metal complexes with a recent focus on analysis of chemical warfare agent simulants and imaging of cells.

Mike teaches the following undergraduate modules (2019/20):

CH267 (10 lectures on stability and reactivity of metal complexes; 10 lectures on organometallic chemistry)

CH222 (3 lectures introduction to mass spectrometry)

Selected Publications

1) Papers on coordination cages and their host/guest chemistry

  • One guest or two? A crystallographic and solution study of guest binding in a cubic coordination cage. C. G. P. Taylor, S. P. Argent,, M. D. Ludden, J. R. Piper, C. Mozaceanu, S. R. Barnett and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2020, in press:
  • Coordination cage catalysed hydrolysis of organophosphates: cavity or surface-based? C. G. P. Taylor, A. J. Metherell, S. P. Argent, F. M. Ashour, N. H. Williams and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2020, in press:
  • Photophysics of cage-guest assemblies: photoinduced electron transfer between a coordination cage containing Os(II) luminophores, and electron-deficient bound guests in the central cavity. J. S. Train, A. B. Wragg, A. J. Auty, A. J. Metherell, D. Chekulaev, C. G. P. Taylor, S. P. Argent, J. A. Weinstein and M. D. Ward, Inorg. Chem., 2019, 58, 2386-2396.
  • Catalysis in a cationic coordination cage using cavity-bound guests and surface-bound anions: inhibition, activation and autocatalysis. W. Cullen, A. J. Metherell, A. B. Wragg, C. G. P. Taylor, N. H. Williams and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2018, 140, 2821-2828.
  • Highly selective CO2 vs. N2 adsorption in the cavity of a molecular coordination cage. J. S. Wright, A. J. Metherell, W. M. Cullen, J. R. Piper, R. Dawson and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 4398–4401.
  • A quantitative study of the effects of guest flexibility on binding inside a coordination cage host. C. G. P. Taylor, W. Cullen, O. M. Collier and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2017, 23, 206-213.
  • Highly efficient catalysis of the Kemp elimination in the cavity of a cubic coordination cage. W. Cullen, M. C. Misuraca, C. A. Hunter, N. H. Williams and M. D. Ward, Nature Chem., 2016, 8, 231–236.
  • Binding of chemical warfare agent simulants as guests in a coordination cage: contributions to binding and a fluorescence-based response.C. G. P. Taylor, J. R. Piper and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 6225–6228.
  • Imposing control on self-assembly: rational design and synthesis of a mixed-metal, mixed-ligand cage containing four types of component. A. J. Metherell and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2016, 7, 910–915.
  • Virtual screening for high-affinity guests for synthetic supramolecular receptors. W. Cullen, S.Turega, C. A Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 2790–2794.
  • pH-Controlled selection between one of three guests from a mixture using a coordination cage host. W. Cullen, K. A. Thomas, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 4025–4028.
  • pH-Dependent binding of guests in the cavity of a polyhedral coordination cage: reversible uptake and release of drug molecules. W. Cullen, S. Turega, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 625–631
  • Mapping the internal recognition surface of an octanuclear coordination cage using guest libraries. S. Turega, W. Cullen, M. Whitehead, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 8475–8483.

2) Papers on photophysical properties of metal complexes and complex assemblies.

  • Heteronuclear d-d and d-f Ru(II)-M complexes [M = Gd(III), Yb(III), Nd(II), Zn(II) or Mn(II)] of ligands combining phenanthroline and aminocarboxylate binding sites: combined relaxivity, cell imaging and photophysical studies. B. J Crowston, J. D. Shipp, D. Chekulaev, L. K. McKenzie, C. Jones, J. A. Weinstein, A. J. H. Meijer, H. E. Bryant, L. Natrajan, A. Woodward and M. D. Ward, Dalton Trans., 2019, 48, 6132-6152.
  • Multimodal probes: Supperresolution and transmission electron microscopy imaging of mitochondria, and oxygen mapping of cells, using small-molecular Ir(III) luminescent complexes. J. R. Shewring, A. J. Cankut, L. K. McKenzie, B. J. Crowston, S. W. Botchway, J. A. Weinstein, E. Edwards and M. D. Ward, Inorganic Chemistry 207, 56, 15259-15270.
  • Photoinduced energy- and electron-transfer from a photoactive coordination cage to bound guests. J. R. Piper, L. Cletheroe, C. G. P. Taylor, A. J. Metherell, J. A. Weinstein, I. V. Sazanovich and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 408–411.
  • Converting an intensity-based sensor to a ratiometric sensor: luminescence colour switching of an Ir/Eu dyad upon binding of a V-series chemical warfare agent simulant. A. J. Metherell, C. Curty, A. Zaugg, S. T. Saad, G. H. Dennison and M. D. Ward, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2016, 4, 9664–9668.
  • Heteronuclear Ir(III)-Ln(III) luminescent complexes: small-molecule probes for dual modal imaging and oxygen sensing. A. Jana, B. J. Crowston, J. R. Shewring, L. K. McKenzie, H. E. Bryant, S. W. Botchway, A. D. Ward, A. J. Amoroso, E. Baggaley and M. D. Ward, Inorg. Chem., 2016, 55, 5623-5633.
  • A new ligand skeleton for imaging applications with d-f complexes: combined lifetime imaging and high relaxivity in an Ir/Gd dyad. A. Jana, E. Baggaley, A. Amoroso and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 8833–8836.
  • Combined two-photon excitation and d→f energy-transfer in a water-soluble Ir(III)/Eu(III) dyad: two luminescence components from one molecule for cellular imaging. E. Baggaley, D.-K. Cao, D. Sykes, S. W. Botchway, J. A. Weinstein and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2014, 20, 8898–8903.