Research Guides

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Professor Kylie Vincent

Visit the group webpages for further information:


The Vincent group will take 3-4 Oxford Part II students in 2021-2022 on projects ranging from applied biotechnology through to fundamental studies in bio-inorganic enzyme mechanisms. For further information, contact to meet up to discuss possible projects.


Research Interests

The Vincent group are interested in both understanding and applying catalysis at metal sites within enzymes.

We are particularly interested in small molecule activation at metal sites in enzymes. Chemistry has a crucial role to play in solving the pressing global challenges of sustainable energy supply, and capture and use of carbon dioxide. In these areas, nature has already established exquisitely tuned enzymes as catalysts. Redox enzymes play key roles as catalysts in biological cycling of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen and energy. Their active sites are built from common metals such as iron, nickel and copper, and the reactivity achieved at these biological metal centres is often difficult to replicate under ambient conditions with synthetic catalysts. We are interested in understanding details of the redox chemistry and mechanisms of catalysis occurring at enzyme active sites. A central theme in our research is to bridge the gaps between different techniques in bioinorganic chemistry. We combine electrochemistry and spectroscopy to control and study enzymes as they engage in catalytic turnover. We apply these approaches to single crystals of enzymes to bridge the gaps between solution and solid state measurements and reveal structures of catalytically active intermediates. Our studies target a range of metalloproteins including hydrogenases, nitrogenase, carbon monoxide dehydrogenase and nitric oxide sensing proteins. We are particularly interested in the efficient catalysis of H2 oxidation and production by microbial hydrogenase enzymes at [NiFe] active centres. Ligands at the active site of hydrogenases, CO and CN-, give rise to fairly intense absorption bands in the Infrared spectrum. This has inspired us to develop new approaches to infrared spectroelectrochemistry for studying hydrogenase active site chemistry under direct electrochemical control. Understanding and exploiting selective nature's catalysts should provide inspiration for development of new classes of energy-cycling catalysts.

We are also fascinated by applications of enzymes in chemical synthesis. We have developed and patented the HydRegen system for C=X bond hydrogenations via H2-driven recycling of the biological hydride transfer cofactors, NADH and NADPH. This offers the best of both worlds between the impressive  selectivity of biocatalysis on the one hand, and the atom-efficiency and ease of implementation of hydrogenations (which are typically catalysed by precious metals). We have demonstrated this approach for a varienty of C=X bond reductions, using a wide range of NAD(P)H dependent enzymes, including keto reductases, imine reductases, ene reductases and amino acid and amine dehydrogenases. We are working closely in collaboration with industry to develop the HydRegen system for industrial fine chemical synthesis. In recent work, we have extended this approach to selective biocatalytic deuterium insertion, and operated many of our biocatalytic reactions in continuous flow.

Kylie Vincent's research is supported by the EPSRC, BBSRC and InnovateUK, and the European Research Council. We are also supported by collaboration with a variety of industrial partners including Johnson Matthey and Dr Reddy's.

Opportunities in the Vincent Group

Informal enquiries about Postdoctoral Fellowship applications, Graduate DPhil (PhD) or MSc opportunities or Undergraduate Summer Studentships in the group should be directed to Prof Kylie Vincent. General information about graduate studies at Oxford is available on the Oxford University Graduate Admissions Website. We are always happy to hear from candidates interested in applying for their own scholarship or fellowship funding to work in the group. For UK fee-status students interested in a DPhil place, an industrial linked BBSRC-CASE funded 4-year DPhil place is available for 2021 entry through the BBSRC-funded Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP, and a project is offered through the EPSRC-funded OxICFM CDT.

The Vincent group will take 3-4 Part II Oxford MChem students for 2021-2021. Email Kylie Vincent for further information about future Part II projects. Further information about the group is also available on the group webpages.


Rowbotham, J.S., Ramirez, M.A., Lenz, O., Reeve, H.A., Vincent, K.A. 'Bringing biocatalytic deuteration into the toolbox of asymmetric isotopic labelling techniques', Nature Communications, 2020, 11, 1454. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15310-z.

Thompson, L.A., Rowbotham, J.S., Nicholson, J.H., Ramirez, M.A., Zor, C., Reeve, H.A., Grobert, N., Vincent, K.A., 'Rapid, Heterogeneous Biocatalytic Hydrogenation and Deuteration in a Continuous Flow Reactor', ChemCatChem, 2020, 12, 3913-3918. DOI: 10.1002/cctc.202000161.

Poznansky, B., Thompson, L.A., Warren, S.A., Reeve, H.A., Vincent, K.A., 'Carbon as a Simple Support for Redox Biocatalysis in Continuous Flow' Org. Proc. Res. & Dev. 2020 In Press, DOI: 10.1021/acs.oprd.9b00410.

Grabarczyk, D.B., Ash, P.A., Myers, W.K., Dodd, E.L., Vincent, K.A., 'Dioxygen controls the nitrosylation reactions of a protein-bound [4Fe4S] cluster' Dalton Trans., 2019, 48, 13960-13970, DOI: 10.1039/c9dt00924h. Designated a 'hot article'.

Ash, P.A., Kendall-Price, S., Vincent, K. A. 'Unifying activity, structure and spectroscopy of [NiFe] hydrogenases: combining techniques to clarify mechanistic understanding', Accounts of Chemical Research, 2019, 52, 3120-3131, DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.9b00293.

Evans, R. M., Ash, P.A., Beaton, S.E., Brooke, E.J., Vincent, K.A., Carr, S.B., Armstrong, F.A. 'Mechanistic Exploitation of a Self-Repairing, Blocked Proton Transfer Pathway in an O2-Tolerant [NiFe]-Hydrogenase' J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2018,  140, 10208-10220, DOI 10.1021/jacs.8b04798.

Nayak, S., McPherson, I. J., Vincent, K. A. 'Adsorbed Intermediates in Oxygen Reduction on Platinum Nanoparticles Observed by In situ IR Spectroscopy', Angew. Chemie. Int. Ed., 2018, 57, 12855-2858, DOI 10.1002/anie.201804978. Designated a 'hot article'.

Ash, P. A., Hidalgo, R., Vincent, K. A., 'Protein Film Infrared Electrochemistry Demonstrated for Study of H2 Oxidation by a [NiFe] Hydrogenase', J. Vis. Exp. 2017, 130, e55858, DOI:10.3791/55858

Zor, C., Reeve, H.A., Quinson, J., Thompson, L.A., Lonsdale, T.H., Dillon, F., Grobert, N., Vincent K.A., 'H2-driven Biocatalytic Hydrogenation in Continuous Flow using Enzyme-Modified Carbon Nanotube Columns', Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 9839-9841 DOI:10.1039/C7CC04465H

McPherson, I.J., Ash, P.A., Jones, L., Varambhia, A., Jacobs, R.J., Vincent, K.A., 'Electrochemical CO Oxidation at Platinum on Carbon Studied Through Analysis of Anomalous In Situ IR Spectra', J. Phys. Chem. C, 2017, 121, 17176-17187. DOI:10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b02166

Ash, P.A., Carr, S.B., Reeve, H.A., Skorupskaite, A., Rowbotham, J., Shutt, R., Frogley, M., Evans, R.M., Cinque, G., Armstrong, F.A., Vincent, K.A., 'A method for generating single metalloprotein crystals in well-defined redox states: combined electrochemical control and infrared microspectroscopic imaging of a NiFe hydrogenase crystal', Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 5858-5861. DOI:10.1039/C7CC02591B

Ash, P.A., Hidalgo, R., Vincent, K.A., 'Proton transfer in the catalytic cycle of NiFe hydrogenases: insight from vibrational spectroscopy', ACS Catalysis, 2017, 7, 4, 2471-2485. DOI:10.1021/acscatal.6b03182

Paengnakorn, P., Ash, P.A., Shaw, S., Danyal, K., Chen, T., Dean, D.R., Seefeldt, L.C., Vincent, K.A., 'Infrared spectroscopy of the nitrogenase MoFe protein under electrochemical control: potential-triggered CO binding', Chemical Science, 2017, 8, 1500-1505, DOI:10.1039/C6SC0286.

McPherson, I.J., Ash, P.A, Jacobs, R.M.J., Vincent, K.A. 'Formate adsorption on Pt nanoparticles during formic acid electro-oxidation: insights from in situ infrared spectroscopy', Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 12665-12668.

Ash, P.A, Reeve, H.A., Quinson, J., Hidalgo, R., Zhu, T., McPherson, I.J., Chung, M., Healy, A.J., Nayak, S., Lonsdale, T.H., Wehbe, K., Kelley, C.S., Frogley, M.D., Cinque, G., Vincent, K.A. 'Synchrotron-based Infrared Microanalysis of Biological Redox Processes under Electrochemical Control' Anal. Chem., 2016, 88, 6666.