Case study: Michael Burt
Fellowship: EPSRC Early Career Fellowship
Title of the research: Imaging chemical dynamics with ultrafast laser spectroscopy
About the research
My group applies mass spectrometry imaging and ultrafast laser spectroscopy to observe molecular dynamics over femtosecond timescales. Our current experiments distinguish molecular isomers in the gas phase and create molecular movies of their reaction pathways. In particular, our focus is to use short and intense laser pulses to universally ionize molecules as they react, revealing their spectroscopically 'dark' structural dynamics. Such reaction pathways underpin many biological processes, including DNA repair, and clarifying them could enable unprecedented control over vital chemistry.
How will this fellowship help my career progression?
EPSRC has helped accelerate my career as an independent researcher by providing a five year position and funding for postdoctoral researchers, equipment, and external collaborations. In undertaking this work, it is expected that I will establish myself as a research leader in my chosen area, contribute to the career development of students and PDRAs, and create new collaborative links in priority research areas.
The support the University provides
Oxford Chemistry has supported me in many areas. Their research facilitation team provided excellent feedback and advice on my fellowship application, and the department has encouraged my career development by assigning me an academic mentor, in addition to contributing laboratory space as well as priority time at our workshops for instrument development.
I obtained my BSc (Hons) and PhD from the Memorial University of Newfoundland under Travis Fridgen. In 2019 I joined Oxford Chemistry's academic staff as an EPSRC Early Career Fellow, following postdoctoral research with Terry McMahon (University of Waterloo) and Mark Brouard (University of Oxford).