Prof David K. Smith

Photo of David K. Smith

Group Leader

Dave was promoted to a Professorship in July 2006

Jan 1999-Present: Department of Chemistry, University of York

Promoted to Senior Lecturer, October 2004.
Promoted to Professor, July 2006.

Jan 1997-Dec 1998: Royal Society European Post Doctoral Research Fellowship

With Professor Francois Diederich - ETH Zurich

Oct 1993-Dec 1996: PhD, University of Oxford

Supervisor: Professor Paul Beer

Oct 1989-Jun 1992: BA (Hons) First Class, University of Oxford

Awarded Proximae Accessit for outstanding finals performance
Postmaster scholar

Research Track Record in Figures

H Index >50 (Thomson ISI)
>8000 citations - over 50 citations per paper
>150 peer-reviewed papers in career
2 Patents
Encyclopedia Volume Editor
1 book and 1 book chapter
2 Encyclopedia chapters
Major funders EPSRC, ERC, The Wellcome Trust, The Leverhulme Trust and Polymer/Formulation Industry. Full details of active funding can be found on my 'Pure' profile, which links to my main univerrsity webpage.

Research Awards

Corday Morgan Award in 2012 from The Royal Soceity of Chemistry for contributions to nanoscience.
Awarded the Bob Hay Lectureship in 2011 for contributions to supramolecular science.

Current Research Summary

My research focuses on supramolecular/nanoscale chemistry, forming the basis of a distinctive, thriving research team. We are interested in research at interfaces between chemistry, biology and physics.

Supramolecular dendrimers – we have developed new switchable and controllable soft materials – research which has formed the basis of numerous lectures at international conferences as well as publications in leading chemical journals. These soft matter systems have potential applications in the development of modified nanoscale materials. In recent work, we have been developing an understanding of how complex mixtures can spontaneously self-assemble, as well as developing soft materials with potential applications in tissue engineering. We have developed particular expertise in gels with potential high-tech industrial applications, and have worked with a number of industrial partners

Biological targets – we have used our expertise in binding biological targets to develop materials with potential applications ranging including gene therapy. This has led to high impact publications and forms the basis of much of my outreach lecturing. We work extensively with modellers to provide unique insight into the behaviour of these nanoscale systems and have pioneered the conceptualisation of Self-Assembled Multivalency (SAMul). We are also developing self-assembled sensors and binders which recognise other key biological targets such as heparin - which has applications in post-surgical intervention.

Key Invited Lectures

I have given over 100 invited lectures at international conferences and universities – Full details can be found in my 'Pure' record which can be linked to from my main university webpage.

Education Awards

Shortlisted for Times Higher Education 'Most Innovative Teacher' Award in 2012.

Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Award 2004. National award (two awarded annually). Citation: ‘Distinguished as a lecturer with great commitment and enthusiasm whose teaching skills and innovation in the lecture and laboratory have had a notable impact on the success of undergraduates and the motivation of schoolteachers and their students’.

Vice Chancellor’s teaching prize (2006) and Department of Chemistry Teaching Prize (2002) for innovative approach to undergraduate teaching and excellent undergraduate feedback. I am currently Chair of Teaching in the Chemistry Department at York

Schools Lecturing/Popularisation of Science

I deliver 40-50 minute demonstration lectures, and have spoken ca. 30,000 16-18 year olds. These lectures aim to popularise chemistry, emphasising the connections between chemistry and medicine and the important role played by chemists in drug discovery. In addition to work in the UK, I have also delivered outreach lectures in India.

I have developed a YouTube channel ( to popularise organic chemistry, which has so far received well over 500,000 video views, as well as generating hundreds of comments and having hundreds of subscribers.

Diversity in Science

Royal Society of Chemistry '175 Faces of Chemistry' 2014 - recognised for contributions to diversity in science
I have been a spokesperson of LGBT+ diversity in science, writing an influential Chemistry World article in 2014.
I have delivered LGBT+ diversity seminars at a wide range of national and international vwenues - including academic and industrial sites, and major international diversity conferences.
Interviewed by Science and Nature journals about diversity.


Member of Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing Board (2014-2020)
Member of Royal Society of Chemistry Inclusion and Diversity Committee (2017-2020)
Member of University of York Teaching Committee (2016-2019)
Chair of Communications Group - Department of Chemistry (2016-Present)
Chair of Board of Studies - Department of Chemistry (2011-2015)
Chair of Teaching Committee - Department of Chemistry (2008-2011)
Tetrahedron - Editor: Recent Developments in Dendrimer Chemistry (Tetrahedron, 2003, 59, 3787-4024)
Tetrahedron - Editor: Low Molecular Weight Organic Gelators (Tetrahedron, 2007, 63, 7271-7494).
Editorial board member of Education in Chemistry (2011-2015)
Editor of the 'Soft Matter' Volume 7 of the Encyclopedia: Supramolecular Chemistry: From Molecules to Nanomaterials, published by Wiley in 2012.
Symposium organiser at the pan-European general chemistry conference, EUCheMS 2, Turin, Italy (2008)
Organising committee of the International Supramolecular and Macrocyclic Conferences in Brighton (2011) and Cambridge (2017).
Member of Marie Curie ITN SMART-NET, funded with over 4 million Euros to support Early Stage Researchers (2012-2016).
Vice Chair of the European COST Network TD0802 on Biomedical Applications of Dendrimers (2009 - 2013).


I am in a civil partnership with my husband Sam. We live in central York with our adopted son, where we enjoy the vibrant and historic city. We enjoy cooking, travelling and exploring.