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Research group

Organic Chemistry, Synthesis, Catalysis

2 people in a chemistry lab

We study the structure, properties and reactions of organic compounds. One of our research aims is to develop environmentally sustainable approaches to chemical manufacture that minimise chemical waste.

Part of Chemistry


Organic chemists discover, design, and make molecules that have useful or interesting functions such as medicines, liquid crystals, electronic materials and smart inks. We have a strong international reputation for our research in a range of areas:

Flow chemistry

Chemical reactions are conducted in a continuous fashion rather than as a batch process. Our primary expertise is in the development of new 'reagentless' methodologies using electrochemistry, thermolysis and photochemistry, and in the study of reaction mechanisms.

Medicinal chemistry

Our multidisciplinary research covers chemistry, biology and medicine. Much of our research is directed at the optimisation of properties through introducing changes in the molecular structure of ‘lead’ compounds.

Total synthesis

We develop strategies for the efficient construction of target compounds.  These include the molecules of nature, and extend to exquisite non-natural structures such as fullerenes enclosing another atom or molecule, for example, C60@NH3.

Methodology and catalysis

Here, our focus is on developing tools and catalysts to enable synthetic transformations to be performed in an efficient manner. This includes the:

  • discovery, development and exemplification of new transformations
  • optimisation and scoping of existing methods (for example, by developing new reagents, catalysts and devices)
  • creation of novel molecular architectures

People, projects and publications


Dr Afaf El-Sagheer

Lecturer in Chemistry

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Professor David Harrowven

Professor of Chemistry

Research interests

  • Organic synthesis
  • Natural products total synthesis
  • Radical and diradical chemistry
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Dr Gregory Perry

Lecturer in Chemistry

Research interests

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Synthesis
  • Catalysis

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Jonathan George

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Chemical Engineering
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Professor Richard Brown

Professor of Organic Chemistry

Research interests

  • Organic synthesis
  • Total synthesis of natural products
  • Asymmetric synthesis
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Professor Richard Whitby

Professor of Chemistry

Research interests

  • Synthesis, properties and application of atomic and molecular endofullerenes.
  • The use of flow chemistry for the rapid acquisition of mechanistic and process information.
  • The synthesis of polyaromatic molecules for optoelectronic applications.

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Vijyesh Vyas

Research Fellow
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We are designing and synthesising molecules with useful optoelectronic properties for application in Organic Light Emitting Diodes, particularly for use in printable devices.
Professor of Chemistry