Department staff

Dr Stephen Butler

Photo of Dr Stephen Butler

Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at the Life Sciences Interface

Stephen Butler studied undergraduate Chemistry at Warwick University obtaining 1st class Hons in 2004. After a brief spell in the polymer industry, he migrated to Sydney and studied a PhD with Prof. Katrina Jolliffe, funded by a Sydney University International Scholarship. This work focused on the synthesis of cyclic peptides for use in molecular recognition. Following the award of his PhD in 2010, he undertook postdoctoral work with Prof. Richard Payne, synthesising peptides with post-translational modifications (e.g. sulfation, phosphorylation).

He then returned to the UK to work with Prof. David Parker FRS, creating highly emissive lanthanide complexes for use in cellular imaging. In 2013 he was awarded a Ramsay Memorial Fellowship to develop fluorescent probes for the detection of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Stephen was appointed as Lecturer in Chemistry at Loughborough University in July 2015. His research focuses primarily on the synthesis of host molecules capable of binding and sensing biological substrates. 

Research in the Butler group is focussed on the design and synthesis of luminescent molecules (or probes) that bind reversibly to biologically important substrates. We are particularly interested in developing probes for the detection of bioactive anions, such as nucleoside polyphosphate anions (e.g. ATP, GTP) and phosphorylated peptides. A major goal is to create molecules with real-world applications. For example, we seek to synthesise probes capable of monitoring the enzymatic phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of peptides and proteins, and to develop these molecules into new bioassays or cellular imaging tools. Such chemical tools could facilitate the development of new diagnostics or therapeutic agents for the treatment of diseases such as cancer. Research projects are multidisciplinary in nature, encompassing organic synthesis, molecular recognition, fluorescence spectroscopy and optical imaging.

Research Keywords

  • Organic Synthesis
  • Host-Guest Recognition
  • Supramolecular Chemistry
  • Luminescent Probes

Research Opportunities

Enthusiastic postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers are welcome to apply at any time to work in the areas of organic synthesis, ligand design and analysis of host-guest interactions. Fully funded positions will be advertised on the Group webpages when available. Researchers and students with their own funding are welcome to email Stephen directly.

  • Module leader for CMB108 ‘Principles of Biological Chemistry’
  • Supervisor for CMD001 Research Projects


  • FYF202:  Foundations of Organic Chemistry
  • CMB108: Principles of Biological Chemistry; Internal Examiner
  • CMB105: Physical Organic Chemistry
  • CMD213: Biological Organic Chemistry








  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of the SCI Young Chemists’ Panel
  • Review Editor for Frontiers in Chemistry Journal, Supramolecular Chemistry Section