Brennan, John

Role requirements

We have a research project ideally suited for a junior or senior undergraduate student. It is a joint collaboration between the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre’s US office (based at Rutgers) and Prof. John Brennen.

We are looking for an energetic, curious and intelligent individual who is excited by the prospect of doing cutting edge research. The ideal candidate will be have an interest in crystal structures, data analysis and the ability to write simple scripts in Python. An understanding of crystallography and metal-organic complexes would be a plus.

The ability to write code is not as essential compared with attitude, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

The student must be willing and able to travel to the UK, as the project will require a 1 or 2 week visit to our offices in Cambridge, UK.

Project Background

The actinide and lanthanide elements form numerous complexes with organic compounds. Presently, the CSD contains approximately 3,000 actinide and 20,000 lanthanide structures. This represents a wealth of information that could enhance our understanding of their chemistry. The project will involve analyzing their crystal structure data for correlations and trends.

An understanding of these complexes will enable the design of better molecules that can make nuclear reprocessing safer [1], to help us recycle rare earth metals [2] and to clean up contaminated waste sites. Such work will have implications for the nation’s security, safety and energy independence.

About CCDC

The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) is a leading provider of structural databases and software for pharmaceutical discovery, materials development, research and education.

The CCDC compiles and distributes the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD), the world's repository of experimentally determined organic and metal-organic crystal structures, and related applications software.

Originating in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, the CCDC is now a fully independent institution. With over 45 years of scientific expertise the CCDC has a strong track record in basic research through more than 700 peer-reviewed publications and even more citations from users.

The CCDC employs around 60 staff in Cambridge, UK and Piscataway, New Jersey, USA and hosts occasional visiting scientists and students who are working on projects related to the Cambridge Structural Database or other CCDC products.


  1. FW Lewis et al. “BTBPs versus BTPhens: some reasons for their differences in properties concerning the partitioning of minor actinides and the advantages of BTPhens”, Inorganic chemistry 52[9], 4993-5005, (2013).
  2. Tunsu, Cristian, et al. "Studies on the Solvent Extraction of Rare Earth Metals from Fluorescent Lamp Waste Using Cyanex 923." Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange just-accepted (2014).