Dr Tai is a senior lecturer in Organic and Polymer Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at Bangor University. Dr Tai’s scientific background has covered a wide range and she has accumulated substantial research and industrial experience and expertise on the development of novel polymer materials, e.g. seeking their synthetic routes, characterising their structures, investigating their properties, evaluating their post processisiblity, and developing their applications. Dr Tai’s recent research focuses on the development of synthetic and natural polymeric biomaterials for wound healing and drug delivery. Dr Tai has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and two book chapters. She has also presented her research findings at more than 50 national and international conferences.
Dr Tai envisages that the rational designed multifunctional polymers have great potential as advanced macro-, micro- and nano- devices for wide applications, including in tissue engineering, targeted drug delivery, and sensing and imaging for diagnostics. Dr. Tai’s research interests focus on design, synthesis, engineering and formulation of functional synthetic biomacromolecules as polymeric macro/micro/nano- devices or polymeric/biopolymer hybrid systems for tissue engineering and drug delivery. She also works on the development of natural biopolymers from renewable sources for personal care and medical applications.
The current research projects in her group include:
- Development of biodegradable and thermoresponsive synthetic polymers for injectable tissue engineering hydrogels
- Development of multifunctional pH responsive dendritic polymers for targeted drug delivery
- Synthesis and processing of biodegradable PLA and PLGA polymers
- Development of biobased hydrogels from polysaccharide and plant oils
- Extraction, characterisation and modification of alginates from brown seaweed
- Extraction, characterisation and modification of Keratin from wool and hair
- Development of alginate derivatives for hydrogel and film applications
- Biopolymers for 3D printing applications
Dr Tai teaches undergraduate and postgraduate modules on the subjects in Organic Chemistry and Polymer Chemistry, as well as General and Research skills for Chemists. Dr Tai is also the Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes (MSc and MRes Courses Coordinator) in the School of Chemistry.
Currently, Dr Tai supervises 5 PhD students and one MPhil student in her research group.
EPSRC, ERDF interreg, European Community KESS fund and NRN fund are acknowledged for the research funding support.
Currently, Dr Tai supervises five PhD students and one MPhil student in her reserach group on different reserach projects. Her group members include:
1. Sohad Alshareef – 3rd year PhD
I am originally from Saudi Arabia and I obtained my bachelor’s degree in science from Tabouk University. I then attended King Abdul-Aziz University and completed a master’s degree in polymers and natural product. My master’s research project focused on the preparation of chitosan derivatives and studying their applications.
I joined Dr. Hongyun Tai’s research group in June 2015 to begin my PhD studies. The aim of my PhD project is to isolate alginate from Welsh and Irish seaweeds, before carrying out full characterisation using a wide range of analytical techniques, including NMR, FTIR and DSC/TGA. The study looks at the effect of certain factors such as, location, season of harvest and extraction conditions on the polymer composition. I am also looking at the modification of the extracted alginates via grafting with biocompatible, biodegradable polyesters in order to tailor and improve the polymers natural properties for use in biomedical applications, such as wound dressing and drug delivery.
2. Kenny Chan – 2nd year PhD
I graduated in 2016 from Bangor University with a first class honours integrated master’s degree in Chemistry. During my undergraduate study I undertook two separate research projects; the first focussed on the synthesis of polymeric nano-sized drug delivery carriers via in situ RAFT polymerisation and the second on the synthesis of acetacetal-functionalised C-glycosides for the treatment of Schistosomiasis. In the summer of 2016 I undertook a summer placement sponsored by IBCarb towards the development of a fucosylated chondroitin sulphate library.
I joined Dr. Hongyun Tai’s research group as a PhD student funded by KESS II scholarship in Sep 2016 to pursue my passion in natural product and polymer chemistry. The title of my project is ‘Developing an injectable hydrogel for the treatment of chronic diabetic foot ulcers’. This project aims to create a novel alginate-based hydrogel for the application of treating chronic foot ulcer wounds as a new-age wound therapeutic. My project is in collaboration with Prof. Dean Williams, a renowned vascular surgeon in the North Wales area, and ConvaTec, an international medical products and Technology Company operating in Deeside, Flintshire.
3. David Mondragon De La Cruz – 2nd year MPhil
I obtained my BSc degree in chemistry at University of the state of Valle, Cali, Colombia. In my final-year, I undertook a research project where I extracted chitosan from aspergillus niger mycelium for use in the synthesis of nanoparticles and scaffolds for tissue engineering. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant in the same institution, carrying out research in the synthesis of high-molecular Poly (lactic Acid) (HMW-PLA) for tissue engineering applications.
I joined Dr. Hongyun Tai’s group at Bangor University in 2016 as an MPhil student. I started my MPhil course working on the extraction of keratin from hair and sheep wool fibres for the development of hydrogels for biomedical applications. Throughout the first academic year, the project focused on the extraction process and the characterisation of the keratins, in addition, some preliminary gelation experiments were conducted. Currently, the project is focussing on the development of multiple keratin-based hydrogels with different modified natural and non-natural cross linkers. Finally, the project is aiming to integrate the aforementioned hydrogel systems into a 3D-printing system.
4. Chester Blackburn – 2nd Year PhD
I graduated in 2016 from Bangor University with a First class honours bachelor’s degree in chemistry. In 2015, during my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate enough to undertake a summer work placement through the Erasmus+ scheme in Prague working in Prof. Valdimir Kren’s group within the Mikrobiologický ústav AV ČR V.V. There, I worked on a project titled ‘enzymatic synthesis of flavonoids’ where my main objective was to extract suitable enzymes from natural sources. These enzymes were then used to replace conventional organic reagents for the synthesis of naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds, commonly found in plants such as milk thistle seeds.
During my third year project I worked in Dr Hongyun Tai’s group on ‘The synthesis of stimuli responsive hyper-branched polymers via RAFT polymerisation’ for potential uses in the medical field as tissue engineering scaffolds or to host bio-active compounds. This project introduced me to the RAFT technique of polymer synthesis and generally peaked my interest in the field of polymer chemistry.
Upon completion of my BSc, I joined in Dr. Hongyun Tai’s group as a National Research Network Wales Life Sciences (NRN) funded PhD student. My project is ‘Smart Multifunctional Nano-carriers with Biodegradable and Dual Responsive (pH and temperature) Properties from Hyper-branched Polymers for Targeted Cancer Drug Delivery.’ The aim of the project is to produce hyper-branched polymers with smart properties that will respond sharply to external stimuli for use in the encapsulation and targeted release of chemotherapeutic drugs. It is envisaged that the nano-carriers formed will be tumour specific and will act to protect the bioactive compounds from the internal environment of the patient. The addition of targeting ligands onto these nano-carriers will allow a direct delivery of the drugs to the desired site, increasing the efficacy of the drugs and reducing their toxicity.
5. James Cooper – 2nd Year PhD
I graduated in 2016 from Bangor University with a second class honours (upper division) bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. During the final year of my undergraduate studies I undertook an organic synthesis project, producing numerous derivatives of an aglycon called hederagenin for use in biological studies against the flatworm Schistosoma Mansoni or common blood fluke. I followed up this project in 2016 in a summer placement where I began synthesising other naturally occurring aglycons from hederagenin.
I joined Dr. Hongyun Tai’s research group as a PhD student funded by KESS II scholarship in Oct 2016 to pursue my interest in natural product chemistry as well as delve into the world of polymer chemistry. The title of my project is ‘Biocompatible micro/nano-gels from alginate derivatives for encapsulation and controlled release of therapeutic and bioactive compounds’. The project aims to produce alginate with stimuli responsive behaviours to be used in the formation of micro and nano-sized gels to encapsulation bioactive compounds. The gel will remain stable to prevent the encapsulated guest from leaching out until exposed to specific conditions that will trigger a slow and sustained release. My project is in collaboration with Itaconix, a natural polymer company based in Deeside, Flintshire.
6. Richard Froom - 1st Year PhD
I graduated in 2017 from Bangor University with a second class honours (upper division) integrated master’s degree in Chemistry. During the third year of my studies I worked in Professor Bela Paizs research group ‘Assigning ionic structures in action IR spectra of gaseous ions using IMS and computational approaches’ where I gained a strong insight into computational chemistry through the use of Gaussian09. During my final year I joined Dr. Hongyun Tai’s research group to pursue my interest in organic chemistry, my project title was ‘Towards the synthesis of dual-stimuli responsive and degradable hyper-branched polymers for controlled drug delivery.’ This project delved into the formation of synthetic co-polymers and the tuning of aforementioned copolymer ratios to produce a tailored stimuli responsive hyper-branched polymer for use in drug loading and delivery.
I re-joined Dr. Hongyun Tai’s research in October 2017 as a PhD student funded by KESS II scholarship. My PhD project is aiming to develop dermal drug delivery materials from biopolymers. The project title is 'Innovative topical formulations from bio-based polymers for transdermal drug delivery'. This project is in collaboration with P&S Nano Limited, a Pembrokeshire based SME Company.