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The University of Southampton

Southampton chemistry graduate honoured with Salters’ Institute prize

Published: 2 February 2021
Kyran Whymark

Former chemistry student Kyran Whymark has been presented a Salters’ Graduate Award following an exceptional industrial placement during his chemistry degree at the University of Southampton.

Kyran gained practical experience in a placement with GlaxoSmithKline on route to a first class honours in his MChem Chemistry degree.

The diverse work with the Discovery High Throughput Chemistry Team was recognised with an Outstanding Research Placement Project prize, prompting a nomination for the Salters’ Institute scheme.

Salters’ Graduate Awards celebrate the intellectual ability and initiative of final-year undergraduates studying at UK universities, highlighting their potential to occupy leading positions in public life.

“It was an honour to have be chosen to represent the University of Southampton and I am absolutely delighted to have been selected to receive one of the five national chemistry awards,” Kyran says. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who nominated me and especially the lecturers and supervisors that have guided and supported me throughout my MChem years.

“Receiving this award further motivates me to continue to work hard and aim high as I take the next steps in my career by undertaking a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Nottingham.”

Kyran’s fourth-year placement was based within GlaxoSmithKline’s Medicinal Chemistry Department at its Stevenage R&D site. He supported a team as it accelerates drug to market timelines in a variety of therapeutic projects.

“My work involved the parallel synthesis of various novel small molecules, to determine their relative interactions, structure-activity relationship (SAR) and potencies, with their respective biological targets,” Kyran explains.

“I was able to apply the skills and techniques learnt during my Southampton degree and was fortunate to receive fantastic support as I took part in a wide range of professional development activities.”

Kyran’s interest in organic chemistry and its links to biological systems has inspired his progression into a PhD in this field. His postgraduate research is focused on the development of new catalytic synthetic methods for the efficient construction of natural product-inspired 3D scaffolds. In particular, the research will explore the application of recently discovered C-H and X-H bond activation using metallocarbenoids to generate sp3-rich cyclic and spirocyclic structures.

“My chemistry degree at Southampton has prepared me well for industry, with its good balance between lab work and theory,” Kyran says. “It was a challenging and rewarding time with good facilities and great staff. Without doubt the highlight during this time has been meeting and working with so many talented and inspirational people.”

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