Thomas McCoy

Dr Tom McCoy


Tom is an Oppenheimer Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology and Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College.

Thomas McCoy

Tom completed a Bachelor of Science at Monash University, Melbourne, majoring in the topics of Chemistry and Physiology. In 2014, Tom then completed an Honours degree at Monash investigating the use of graphene oxide - an ultra-thin carbon-based material derived from graphite - as an adsorbent for wastewater cleanup and its subsequent removal using a magnetic field. The work received national recognition, being featured in 'The Australian' newspaper and discussed on Melbourne radio station '3RRR'.

Tom undertook doctoral research in Physical Chemistry between 2015-2018 again at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. His research investigated the chemical processing of 2-dimensional carbon nanomaterials in water, and how their physical behaviour could be mediated using small amphiphilic molecules called surfactants. Several publications emerged from this work demonstrating capacity for modulating the bulk and interfacial properties of these systems so that they may be better used in industrial applications such as water purification and stabilisation. As a side project, Tom explored the self-assembly of a specific class of surfactant molecules that spontaneously form complex fluid mixtures using a technique called small-angle neutron scattering.

Immediately after his PhD, Tom commenced his postdoc at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CEB). The project was conducted in collaboration with Infineum UK Ltd. to explore the mechanism of friction reduction and anti-wear caused by small molecule additives in engine oil formulations using neutron reflectivity. 

In 2021, Tom became an Oppenheimer Research Fellow in CEB and a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson. Tom also delivers two lecture courses in CEB on Analytical and Physical Chemistry for CET1, and supervises MPhil. students in Advanced Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

Tom's primary research interest resides in the design and deposition of surface coatings based on self-organising colloidal particles to mitigate biofouling in aquatic environments. Specific areas where this work could make an impact are in shipping and medical devices. He hopes that advancements in this area will provide novel, low cost and low-energy materials for new and improved surface coatings, helping in the collective effort towards sustainable materials and reducing climate impact caused by CO2 emissions.

Further research interests of Tom's are in molecular self-assembly, which involves understanding the natural arrangement of small molecules in solution in order to exploit and control their properties; and aqueous dispersions of carbon nanomaterials, which involves the processing and understanding of nanoscopic carbon materials in water.

Tom regularly makes trips to high-profile research facilities around the world such as ISIS, Britain’s nuclear spallation source; Institut Laue Langevin, a nuclear reactor in Grenoble, France; and ACNS, a nuclear reactor out of Sydney, Australia. These trips allow him to make use of neutron scattering techniques which aid in elucidating important structural insights for these various chemical systems.

What's on

'You' by Gavin Fry

Art Exhibition: 'Things Put Differently'

03/06/2023 at 10.00

Visit Wolfson's latest exhibition 'Things Put Differently' featuring Gavin Fry and works by Anthony Green and Mary Cozens-Walker.

Photo of artist Gurpran Rau holding a piece of her artwork

Art Exhibition: 'Patterns of Renewal'

03/06/2023 at 10.00

We're delighted to be the first to display Gurpran Rau's latest exhibition 'Patterns of Renewal', featuring a series of paintings created during lockdown inspired by her walks in the woods of Cambridgeshire.

A poster for the publicity of the event Solutions to Plastic Pollution. The event details are shown on a blue-ash green background in both white and black text. To the right is an image of a plastic water bottle and a recycling sign on the front of it.

Solutions to Plastic Pollution

05/06/2023 at 17.00

Join us on the 50th World Environment Day for an engaging panel discussion and keynote speech on solutions to plastic pollution.

Inger Mewburn

Kicking the can down the road: How to create research impact in seven (not so easy) steps

06/06/2023 at 17.30

We hear terms like ‘research impact’ and ‘engagement’ all the time, but what does ‘impact’ and ‘engagement’ actually look like in practice?