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Dr Simon Collinson

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer in Chemistry
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Life, Health & Chemical Sciences
  • simon.collinson

Professional biography

My PhD concerned ‘Bioinorganic chemistry mimicking copper metalloenzymes’ with Professor David Fenton at the University of Sheffield and was sponsored by BP Chemicals. This developed dicopper complexes of macrocylic Schiff base ligands.

I then worked at the University of Kansas as a postdoctoral fellow developing ‘Metal catalysts for bleach activation’ with Professor Daryle Busch and the Proctor & Gamble Company which led to several patents and publications. 

I returned to the UK in 1998, working at the University of Exeter  as a postdoctoral fellow studying ‘Metal containing liquid crystals’ with Professor Duncan Bruce.  In 2000 I continued at the University of Exeter as a postdoctoral fellow developing ‘Electrochemical sensors for biological molecules’ with Dr Jim Tucker.

In 2001 I was appointed at the University of Nottingham as a temporary lecturer and subsequently teaching fellow in Inorganic Chemistry.

In 2009 I moved to Cranfield University as a lecturer in Environmental and Waste Chemistry. 

I joined the Open University in November 2011 as a Teaching Fellow in Chemistry and an Associate Lecturer on the level 3 Metals and Life course.

In march 2014 I was promoted to be a lecturer in Chemistry.

My research interests include chemical education, materials chemistry, biological inorganic chemistry, catalysis, environmental and sustainable chemistry.

Research interests

Applied Research

I have a long standing interest in applying chemistry to real world challenges.  Current and recent projects include;-

1) Cleaning costumes, vintage rugs and carpets (originally funded by HEIF in colaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum).   An AHRC PhD position with the V&A is now available to start in October 2019.

2) Crop by-product processing into nanomaterials incorporating bioactives for targeted release and shelf-life extension (collaboration with University of Newcastle, Fera, Biopower Technologies Ltd, Marks & Spencer and New Food Innovations funded by FoodWasteNet).

3) Development of more environmentally-friendly road markings, Knowledge Transfer Partnership with WJ Products Ltd and the Open University.

4) Recycling waste plastics either by depolymerisation to their monomers (e.g. mixtures of polyethylene terephthalate and polylactic acid) or decolourising waste plastic film (e.g. polyethylene or polystyrene) (funded by CIWM).

5) Upcycling of food waste into higher value proteins or peptides using (a) polymer supported transition metal catalysts and (b) chitosan supported enzymes. (funded by CIWM, IBCarb, Nuffield Foundation and Yessenov Foundation).

6) Metal complexes for DNA binding to enhance radiotherapy (funded by the RSC).

7) Analysing precious and strategically important metals in waste materials (e.g. Waste electronic and electrical equipment, WEEE, ash from incineration and leachate) (funded by CIWM)..

8) The application of catalysis to the conversion of biomass, in particular the oxidation of starch, cellulose and lignin (funded by the Nuffield Foundation).

9) Recycling carpets in the removal of pollution (e.g. phosphate or metals) from water (funded by CIWM).

10) Assessing the future roles of landfill and biogas (funded by CIWM-Geotech).

We gratefully acknowledge DEFRA, the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM), the RSC, FoodWasteNet, IBCarb Network, the British Council, Geotech, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) and the Nuffield Foundation for supporting this work in recent years.

Also I acted as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Chemistry (2014-2017).

Educational Research

Currently I am researching best practise in student teaching and learning using synchronous and asynchronous online media.  For instance in collaboration with Drs Crabb, Williams and Janes we have an eSTeEM funded project entitled Graduate skills in chemistry: online delivery, assessment and tracking.

I am also interested in improving the experience of international students in online learning and developing problem based learning for chemistry students. Consequently I led a HEA funded project on context based learning activities to better engage international students in distance learning.

I am part of team developing remote undergraduate experiments in particular using remote FTIR and flow chemistry.

Teaching interests

S350 Evaluating Contemporary Science, Chair for both the production and presentation.

SXM390 Science project course: Frontiers in Chemistry, Strand Chair

S315 Chemistry Further Concepts, course production and module team member

S215 Laboratory course,module team member

S215 Chemistry Essential Concepts, course production team and module team member

SXR103 Practising Scienc, tutor

S347 Metals and Life, module team member and tutor

S205 The Molecular World, module team member


Impact and engagement

I have been a key advisor to BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science for several years.

Whilst at the OU, I have enjoyed supervising my PhD student Daniel Marin Florido (at Jonson Matthey), MSc students Marc Beger, Emmanuel Okpala, Yerkanat Kanafin and Gaetan Hamel, A-S level Nuffield students Beka Lawman, Abi Barbour and Ben Phan who obtained their Gold Crest awards. Concurrently I supervised undergraduate summer project students Ellie Atkinson, Abi Barbour, Joe Beebee, Millie Dean, Kirsten Hawkins and Sophie Patrick.

I am a STEM ambassador and have led several outreach activities on Plastics and their recycling for ChemistryInAction.

Recent oral presentations include the following: 

  1. Recovering valuable chemicals from waste plastics, SR Collinson,  Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, CIWM London meeting, 2018.

  2. Invited talk on Recycling Post-consumer Waste Plastics, SR Collinson,  Sustainable Functional Materials, Weston Super Mare, 2018.

  3. Upcycling wastes to recover valuable chemicals or materials, SR Collinson, WaRM2017, Open University, 2017.

  4. Immobilised enzymes and catalysts for the upcycling of food wastes/plastics into biodiesel or chemicals, SR Collinson, E Atkinson, G Hamel, N Chatterton, R Villa, Catalysis & Food Waste Valorisation, FoodWasteNet meeting at Aston University, 2016.

  5. Upcycling food wastes into high-value peptides & proteins, SR Collinson, M Berger, R Villa, Biopolymers and bioplastics from waste, FoodWasteNet event, 2016.

  6. Upcycling protein waste into higher value peptides and proteins, M Berger, SR Collinson, R Villa, London & Southern counties CIWM- event, Reading, 2016.
  7. Catalysts and the recovery of materials and chemicals from waste, SR Collinson, LHCS Research Day, 2015.
  8. Recovery of materials and chemicals from waste, SR Collinson, Research Seminar, Bangor University, 2014.
  9. Online tutorials – what we’ve learnt so far, SR Collinson, E M Crabb, Scholarship Seminar, OU, 2014.
  10. Online context based learning activities, SR Collinson, C Halliwell, Scholarship Seminar, OU, 2014.
  11. Teaching international students online using context based learning activities, SR Collinson, C Halliwell, HEA STEM annual conference, Birmingham, 2013.
  12. Using Online rooms (Elluminate) to support learning and teaching in science, SR Collinson, EM Crabb, Talking Point event, 2013, Online Open University event.
  13. Teaching international students online using context based learning activities, SR Collinson, C Halliwell, RSC Teacher Fellows meeting, London, 2013.

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

Crop by-product processing into nanomaterials incorporating bioactives for targeted release and shelf life extension (resubmission)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Simon Collinson (Life Health & Chemical Sciences, Open University) and Nick Chatterton (Life Health & Chemical Sciences, Open University), with external collaborators at Newcastle University, Biopower Technologies Ltd, and Marks and Spencer plc A total of ca. £24K funding has been secured to support a 4 month project on the formulation and testing of crop by-product nanomaterials which incorporate anti-microbial bioactive compounds for potential usage in food grade materials and extension of their shelf-life. The work will involve electrospinning of mechanically processed crop by-products blended with other biodegradable natural polymers such as alginic acid or chitosan. The porosity of these materials will be further optimized by chemical or enzymatic processes, followed by studies on the encapsulation and controlled release of the bioactives. The anti-microbial and antioxidant activity of the bioactive-loaded nanomaterials will also be assessed. As well as the food industry, the materials are envisaged for potential use in the personal care products, pharmaceuticals and surface coatings.

Supported enzymes to recover valuable chemicals from polyester wastes

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Jun/201731/May/2018CIWM-Defra Chartered Institution of wastes Management - Defra
This project will apply enzymes catalysts (such as lipase), either freely in solution or when supported on the biopolymer chitosan, in the hydrolysis of polyester wastes in cost-effective and efficient processes. By supporting the lipase it will both increase its stability and enable it's recycling. This proposal explored as a support for the enzyme chitosan, which is derived from a waste product from the shell fish processing industry. To put this into context the UK shellfish processing sector has a major waste disposal problem as waste from calcareous shellfish is around 75,000 tonnes per year. For comparison we also studied the role of simple metal salts in this hydrolysis process, for example sodium hydroxide or zinc acetate. The project focused on the polyesters polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polylactic acid (PLA).

Evaluating immobilised Enzymes on Chitosan for Upcycling Protein Wastes

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead04/Jul/201626/Aug/2016IB Carb Network
This is a pilot research project for an undergraduate student. The project builds on my previous research functionalizing the carbohydrates starch and chitosan to produce new functional materials. This project will support proteases on chitosan to produce recyclable and stable catalysts for the hydrolysis of protein wastes to more valuable hydrolysates. WRAP has estimated waste in the food and drinks supply chain (WRAP 01 312 PAD102-308) reporting that ‘about 2.25 million tonnes of material are rendered each year to produce around 500,000 tonnes of protein meal.’ This example represents an important biorefinery resource for valuable proteins, peptides and amino acids. Protein containing wastes arise from several food industries and the focus here will be from cheese production (whey protein), connective tissue (the protein collagen which yields gelatin), and eggs (ovalbumin). The hydrolysates from waste proteins often display improved antioxidant properties compared to the protein and this will be also studied.

Targeting radiotherapy with DNA binding metal complexes of amino acids.

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead06/Jul/201528/Aug/2015Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
This was to fund an undergraduate student, Kirsten Hawkins, who has approached the department for a summer placement.New approaches that localise radiosensitivity within tumours have the potential to improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy and reduce side effects for patients. Here we developed compounds, known as radiosensitisers, containing heavier elements such as metals that produce electrons upon radiotherapy. These electrons promote localised DNA damage in cancer cells leading to their death. Careful design of the complexes aimed to promote their localisation in the DNA of cancer cells so that those that these are most damaged upon radiotherapy. It is significant that we developed one copper containing compound that exhibited a comparatively low cytotoxicity in HEK293T cells (human embryonic kidney cells) over 24 h, for example it was approximately 45 times less cytotoxic to these cells in comparison to the anticancer drug cis-platin. This suggests its further study in targeted radiotherapy where the cytotoxicity in cancer cells would be turned on by the application of the radiotherapy. It is significant that we developed one copper containing compound that exhibited a comparatively low cytotoxicity in HEK293T cells (human embryonic kidney cells) over 24 h, for example it was approximately 45 times less cytotoxic to these cells in comparison to the anticancer drug cis-platin. This suggests its further study in targeted radiotherapy where the cytotoxicity in cancer cells would be turned on by the application of the radiotherapy. Abi Barbour, an A-S level student, also worked on this project under the Nuffield Research Placement scheme and as a result achieved her Gold Crest award.

MSc project on ‘Upcycling’ of food waste into high-value proteins and peptides

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Mar/201529/Feb/2016CIWM-Defra Chartered Institution of wastes Management - Defra
This MSc project was supported by Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and Defra. Globally the food industry produces more than 2.25 million tons of food wastes every year, representing a valuable resource for proteins, peptides and amino acids. Protein rich wastes arise from several industries including the retail of products from fish (fish meal, WRAP Project code:RSC009-001 & RSC009-003), poultry (feathers) and eggs (egg shell membrane). These proteins can be extracted to yield mixtures of valuable chemicals that for instance display antioxidant properties. This project studied ‘upcycling’ food waste into high-value chemicals using novel catalysts of zinc or nickel complexes supported on the biopolymer chitosan or the synthetic ion exchange resin Dowex M4195. These novel heterogeneous catalysts catalysed the mild hydrolysis of proteins from food waste and could be easily recovered and reused. In several cases these hydrolysis reactions successfully produced protein hydrolysates with better antioxidant activities than the initial proteins. Additionally an economic assessment was made of the cost of the catalysts against the value of the hydrolysed peptides produced. This pilot project involved Marc Berger (MSc student), Simon Collinson (at the OU), Raffaella Villa (Cranfield University) and Nick Turner (at the OU).


Bacterial and chemical leaching of copper-containing ores with the possibility of subsequent recovery of trace silver (2019-06)
Zhappar, Nariman K.; Shaikhutdinov, Valentin M.; Kanafin, Yerkanat N.; Ten, Oleg A.; Balpanov, Darkhan S.; Korolkov, Ilya V.; Collinson, Simon R.; Erkasov, Rakhmetulla Sh and Bakibaev, Abdigali A.
Chemical Papers, 73(6) (pp. 1357-1367)
Modification of waste carpet with hydrated ferric oxide for recycling as an adsorbent material to recover phosphate from wastewater (2013-10)
Collinson, Simon R. and Duplá García, Oscar
Science of Advanced Materials, 5(10) (pp. 1427-1435)
The selective recycling of mixed plastic waste of polylactic acid and polyethylene terephthalate by control of process conditions (2011-10)
Carné Sánchez, Arnau and Collinson, Simon R.
European Polymer Journal, 47(10) (pp. 1970-1976)
The catalytic oxidation of biomass to new materials focusing on starch, cellulose and lignin (2010-08)
Collinson, S. R. and Thielemans, W.
Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 254(15-16) (pp. 1854-1870)
Design of Neutral Metallomesogens from 5,5-Dimethyldipyrromethane: Metal Ion Mediated Control of Folding and Hairpin Structures (2008-11)
Ames, Kelly A.; Collinson, Simon R.; Blake, Alexander J.; Wilson, Claire; Love, Jason B.; Bruce, Duncan W.; Donnio, Bertrand; Guillon, Daniel and Schröder, Martin
European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, 2008(32) (pp. 5056-5066)
Metal-directed columnar phase formation in tetrahedral zinc(II) and manganese(II) metallomesogens (2008)
Morale, Francesca; Finn, Rachel L.; Collinson, Simon; Blake, Alexander J.; Wilson, Claire; Bruce, Duncan W.; Guillon, Daniel; Donnio, Bertrand and Schroder, Martin
New Journal of Chemistry, 32 (pp. 297-305)
Anion selectivity in zwitterionic amide-funtionalised metal salt extractants (2007-07)
Galbraith, Stuart G.; Wang, Qiang; Li, Li; Blake, Alexander J.; Wilson, Claire; Collinson, Simon R.; Lindoy, Leonard F.; Plieger, Paul G.; Schröder, Martin and Tasker, Peter A.
Chemistry - A European Journal, 13(21) (pp. 6091-6107)
The one-pot halomethylation of 5-substituted salicylaldehydes as convenient precursors for the preparation of heteroditopic ligands for the binding of metal salts (2006-12-11)
Wang, Qiang; Wilson, Claire; Blake, Alexander J.; Collinson, Simon R.; Tasker, Peter A. and Schröder, Martin
Tetrahedron Letters, 47(50) (pp. 8983-8987)
Synthesis and modulation of bis(triazine) hydrogen-bonding receptors (2006-03-13)
Mason, Pamela V.; Champness, Neil R.; Collinson, Simon R.; Fisher, Matthew G. and Goretzki, Gudrun
European Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2006(6) (pp. 1444-1449)
The binding and electrochemical recognition of barbiturate and urea derivatives by hydrogen-bonding ferrocene receptors. (2004-03-01)
Westwood, Joanna; Coles, Simon J.; Collinson, Simon R.; Gasser, Gilles; Green, Stephen J.; Hursthouse, Michael B.; Light, Mark E. and Tucker, James H. R.
Organometallics, 23(5) (pp. 946-951)
Synthesis and X-ray crystal structures of iron(II) and manganese(II) complexes of unsubstituted and benzyl substituted cross-bridged tetraazamacrocycles (2003-03-25)
Hubin, Timothy J.; McCormick, James M.; Collinson, Simon R.; Alcock, Nathaniel W.; Clase, Howard J. and Busch, Daryle H.
Inorganica Chimica Acta, 346 (pp. 76-86)
A ditopic ferrocene receptor for anions and cations that functions as a chromogenic molecular switch (2003)
Miyaji, Hidekazu; Collinson, Simon R.; Prokeš, Ivan and Tucker, James H. R.
Chemical Communications, 2003(1) (pp. 64-65)
Asymmetric synthesis of chiral α-ferrocenylalkylamines and their use in the preparation of chiral redox-active receptors (2002-11-14)
Laurent, Pierre; Miyaji, Hidekazu; Collinson, Simon R.; Prokeš, Ivan; Moody, Christopher J.; Tucker, James H. R. and Slawin, Alexandra M. Z.
Organic Letters, 4(23) (pp. 4037-4040)
Recent developments in the redox-switched binding of organic compounds (2002-05)
Tucker, James H. R. and Collinson, Simon R.
Chemical Society Reviews, 31(3) (pp. 147-156)
Novel ferrocene receptors for barbiturates and ureas (2001)
Collinson, Simon R.; Gelbrich, T.; Hursthouse, Michael B. and Tucker, James H. R.
Chemical Communications(6) (pp. 555-556)
Mesomorphic complexes of the lanthanide elements (2001)
Collinson, Simon R.; Martin, Françoise; Binnemans, Koen; Van Deun, Rik and Bruce, Duncan W.
Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals Science and Technology. Section A. Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals, 364(1) (745 -752)
The synthesis of low melting liquid crystalline lanthanide complexes with triflate counter-anions (2000-06)
Martin, Françoise; Collinson, Simon R. and Bruce, Duncan W.
Liquid Crystals, 27(6) (pp. 859-863)
Rare-earth-containing magnetic liquid crystals (2000-04-21)
Binnemans, Koen; Galyametdinov, Yury G.; Van Deun, Rik; Bruce, Duncan W.; Collinson, Simon R.; Polishchuk, Arkadiy P.; Bikchantaev, Ildar; Haase, Wolfgang; Prosvirin, Andrey V.; Tinchurina, Larisa; Litvinov, Igor; Gubajdullin, Ajdar; Rakhmatullin, Ajdar; Uytterhoeven, Koen and Van Meervelt, Luc
Journal of the American Chemical Society, 122(18) (4335 -4344)
New iron(II) and manganese(II) complexes of two ultra-rigid, cross-bridged tetraazamacrocycles for catalysis and biomimicry (2000-03-22)
Hubin, Timothy J.; McCormick, James M.; Collinson, Simon R.; Buchalova, Maria; Perkins, Christopher M.; Alcock, Nathaniel W.; Kahol, Pawan K.; Raghunathan, Ahasuya and Busch, Daryle H
Journal of the American Chemical Society, 122(11) (pp. 2512-2522)
Spectroscopic behaviour of lanthanide(III) coordination compounds with Schiff base ligands (2000)
Binnemans, Koen; Van Deun, Rik; Görller-Walrand, Christiane; Collinson, Simon R.; Martin, Françoise; Bruce, Duncan W. and Wickleder, Claudia
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2(17) (pp. 3753-3757)
The synthesis and properties of surfactant aza macrocycles (2000)
Pidwell, Andrew D.; Collinson, Simon R.; Coles, Simon J.; Hursthouse, Michael B.; Schröder, Martin and Bruce, Duncan W.
Chemical Communications(11) (pp. 955-956)
Towards magnetic liquid crystals (1999-11-01)
Binnemans, Koen; Bruce, Duncan W.; Collinson, Simon R.; Van Deun, Rik; Galyametdinov, Yury G. and Martin, Françoise
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 357(1762) (pp. 3063-3077)
Laundry and cleaning composition for fabric washing, and for hard surfaces including interiors of ovens, includes metal complex comprising transition metal atom including manganese, oxygen bleaching agent, and adjunct materials (2009-02-26)
Burkett-St, L. J. C.; Busch, D. H.; Collinson, S. R.; Hubin, T. J.; Johnston, J. P.; Kitko, D. J.; Labeque, R.; Perkins, C. M. and Williams, B. K.

Laundry and cleaning composition comprises metal complex comprising transition metal and cross-bridge macropolycyclic ligand comprising organic macrocycle ring and cross-bridge chain moiety (2008-07-10)
Busch, D. H.; Collinson, S. R.; Hubin, T. J.; Perkins, C. M.; Labeque, R.; Williams, B. K.; Johnston, J. P.; Kitko, D. J. and Burckett-St, L. J. C.

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