Dr Terence P. Kee
- Position: Reader
- Areas of expertise: Soft matter, hydrogels, astrobiology, philosophy.
- Email: T.P.Kee@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 6421
- Location: 1:08 School of Chemistry
Following a BSc degree in chemistry at the University of Durham, I stayed in the North East to work with a New Blood lecturer in 1986, Dr Vernon Gibson in the field of organometallic chemistry and catalysis. Subsequently, I was able to move to the USA for postdoctoral work at MIT under (now Nobel Laureate) Professor Dick Schrock as an SERC-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow. An opportunity arose to move to the University of Leeds as a lecturer in 1990 and this is where I have been ever since. Even though I have not moved geographically from Leeds in 30 years, I have moved research fields several times during that period. Having started as an organometallic chemist, I have subsequently worked on problems in organic synthesis, catalysis, environmental waste recovery, medicinal chemistry and, following the award of a STFC-UK Space Agency Aurora Discipling Hopping award in 2009, in astrobiology. Most recently, since 2016 my intrerests have focused more on soft matter, especially hydrogels.
- Postgraduate Progessions Tutor
- School Academic Lead on Inclusive Practise
- Discovery Theme Leader, Exploring the Sciences
Soft Matter Chemistry
The primary interest in our laboratory now centres on hydrogels. These are examples of soft-matter which are composed of crosslinked materials capable of containing significant quantities of water and which undergo changes or deformations under thermal or mechanical stress on the order of thermal fluctuations. Hydrogels themselves have many applications especially as formulations for drug delivery, metal ion extraction materials, biosensors and in tissue engineering. However, our work in this field focuses on two aspects:
Abiogenesis & Cellular Emergence
It was proposed in 2005 by Pollack & Trevors (https://www.pollacklab.org/) that the earliest, most primitive cellular life most probably possessed an internal environment similar to a contemporay biological cytoplasm; in particular that it would behave as a hydrogel. Since then, within the field of abiogensis, there has been relatively little notice taken of this intriguing proposal. In 2016 we began a programme to explore both fundamnetal processes of potential relevance to the emergence of cellular life, such as amphiphilic self-assembly and molecular diffusion, in geologically-relevant hydrogels based on clay and silicate minerals. In addition to this we are looking at systems where a metabolic simulant placed within a geological gel environment can engage with its environment by transmitting chemical behaviours within the metabolic reactions to bulk behaviours of the gel itself. These then may have relevance to how the first cellular organisms on earth were able to link chemical reactions to cellular functions.
Controlled Crop Nutrient Delivery
Most recently we have begun to explore the use of hydrogels for crop nutrient delivery by exploiting environmental responsivity in order to trigger release of molecular nutrients in a controlled fashion. This may have signficant impact in those of areas of agricture where nutrient over-use or nutrient/water retention is a problem.
Research groups and institutes
- Atmospheric and Planetary Chemistry