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Research profile

The research of Anja Palmans develops along two lines. The first is aimed at mimicking multistep synthesis as it occurs in Nature. This allows for reduction of the need for purification procedures, and limits costs and waste in the production of complex organic molecules. To achieve this she evaluates the physical separation of multiple catalysts using synthetic polymers that fold into well-defined three-dimensional structures. This compartmentalization of catalysts is achieved through self-assembly of pendant recognition motifs in the polymers. The water-soluble catalysts thus formed are investigated for their application in complex media, with the aim to combine natural and non-natural catalytic reactions but also to catalytically activate prodrugs for cancer therapies.

The second line concerns the control of the dynamic behavior of supramolecular copolymerizations, especially the exchange dynamics that represent the equilibrium between the monomer and the polymer. Copolymerizing supramolecular monomers with distinct differences in the dynamic behavior of their respective homopolymers could provide a handle to control the overall exchange dynamics of the supramolecular copolymer, and hereby their stability and function.

Academic background

Anja Palmans studied chemical engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and received her master's degree in 1992. She continued with PhD research in the group of Prof. Bert Meijer where she obtained her doctorate in 1997 with her thesis 'Supramolecular structures based on the intramolecular H-bonding in acylated 3,3’-diamino-2,2’-bipyridines'. In 1998 and 1999 she was a postdoc researcher in the group of Prof. Paul Smith at ETH Zürich (Switzerland), after which she started working at DSM Research (Geleen, The Netherlands). In 2002 she returned to TU/e as NRSC-C Fellow at the Laboratory for Macromolecular and Organic Chemistry where she became assistant professor in 2005 and associate professor in 2010. In 2013 she was at KIT (Karlsruhe, Germany) for a three months sabbatical. Since 2019 she is full professor in the fascinating field of Supramolecular Chemistry and Catalysis.


Affiliated with

  • NWO gravitation program 'Functional Molecular Systems

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Research Output

Single-chain folding of polymers for catalytic systems in water

Terashima, T., Mes, T., Greef, de, T. F. A., Gillissen, M. A. J., Besenius, P., Palmans, A. R. A. & Meijer, E. W., 2011, In : Journal of the American Chemical Society. 133, 13, p. 4742-4745

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 260 Citations (Scopus)
    6 Downloads (Pure)

    Benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide : a versatile ordering moiety for supramolecular chemistry

    Cantekin, S., Greef, de, T. F. A. & Palmans, A. R. A., 2012, In : Chemical Society Reviews. 41, p. 6125-6137

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 209 Citations (Scopus)
    3 Downloads (Pure)

    Consequences of folding a water-soluble polymer around an organocatalyst

    Huerta Martinez, E., Stals, P. J. M., Meijer, E. W. & Palmans, A. R. A., 2013, In : Angewandte Chemie - International Edition. 52, 10, p. 2906-2910 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 137 Citations (Scopus)
    2 Downloads (Pure)

    Single chain polymeric nanoparticles as selective hydrophobic reaction spaces in water

    Artar, M., Palmans, A. R. A., Meijer, E. W. & Terashima, T., Oct 2015, In : ACS Macro Letters. 4, 10, p. 1099-1103 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 28 Citations (Scopus)
    9 Downloads (Pure)

    Cooperativity scale: a structure-mechanism correlation in the self-assembly of benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamides

    Kulkarni, C., Meijer, E. W. & Palmans, A. R. A., 15 Aug 2017, In : Accounts of Chemical Research. 50, 8, p. 1928-1936 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access
  • 38 Citations (Scopus)
    151 Downloads (Pure)


    Advances in Molecular Chemistry

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    Graduation Project MSMC

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    Macro-organic chemistry

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    Organic chemistry

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    Practical organic chemistry

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    Press / Media

    Student theses

    1,4,7-triazacyclononane functionalized BTA: a supramolecular polymer for cooperative catalysis

    Author: Robeerst, C., 26 Jun 2019

    Supervisor: Mabesoone, M. (Supervisor 1), Su, L. (Supervisor 2), Meijer, B. (Supervisor 2), Palmans, A. (Supervisor 2) & Schenning, A. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide based supramolecular organogels: from molecular self-assembly to macroscopic properties

    Author: Haveman, J., 16 Oct 2014

    Supervisor: Palmans, A. (Supervisor 1), Wyss, H. (Supervisor 2), Voets, I. (Supervisor 2), Meijer, E. (Supervisor 2) & Meuldijk, J. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamides as supramolecular ordering moieties in polymeric materials

    Author: Mes, T., May 2007

    Supervisor: Palmans, A. (Supervisor 1), Roosma, J. (Supervisor 2) & Meijer, B. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide side-functionalized polymers for the formation of single chain polymer nanoparticles

    Author: van der Weegen, R., 31 Aug 2010

    Supervisor: Mes, T. (Supervisor 1), Palmans, A. (Supervisor 2), Meijer, E. (Supervisor 2) & Janssen, H. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Biopolymers by lipase catalysis

    Author: den Ouden, H., 31 Oct 2005

    Supervisor: Meijer, E. (Supervisor 1) & Palmans, A. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master