School of Chemistry

Synthesis and Catalysis

PhD student using the electrochemistry machine

We investigate new methods to synthesise molecules with desirable functions such as biological activity, catalytic reactivity and thermoelectric properties. Research is focused on developing new reactions, catalysts and technologies to synthesise molecules required by society in a simple, efficient and sustainable manner.

Our Research

An important goal in this work is to control the selectivity of reactions to prepare only the desired target compound and minimise the formation of side-products. This research is supported by detailed studies into how reactions work, to facilitate more accurate prediction of molecular function from chemical structure.

  • New synthetic methods and reactions
  • The development of new transition metal catalysts and organic catalysts
  • Asymmetric synthesis and catalysis
  • The synthesis of natural products and their analogues
  • Molecular targeting of cancer, malaria and neurodegeneration
  • Design and synthesis of chemical probes for biological systems
  • Physical organic chemistry, including kinetic studies, isotopic labelling and analysis of structure-activity relationships
  • Reactions in supercritical carbon dioxide
  • Green and sustainable synthesis
  • New enabling technologies for synthesis, such as photochemistry, electrochemistry and flow chemistry
  • The design and synthesis of molecules with thermoelectric properties
PhD student in Green Laboratory, GSK Building

Catalysis close up

Student holding up flask filled with a chemical


Thapsigargin Is a Broad-Spectrum Inhibitor of Major Human Respiratory Viruses: Coronavirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza A Virus

A collaborative publication across the University of Nottingham, including Professor Chris Hayes, reporting on thapsigargin's antiviral performance on coronavirus.

Examining enzyme reactions

Redox-neutral organocatalytic Mitsunobu reactions

A collaborative publication from Dr James Cuthbertson and Professor Ross Denton, in the high impact journal Science.

Modular bismacycles for the selective C–H arylation of phenols and naphthols

A publication of interest to the community, in the high impact journal Nature, from Dr Liam Ball.

Visible‐Light‐Driven Strain‐Increase Ring Contraction Allows the Synthesis of Cyclobutyl Boronic Esters

A recent publication in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition from Nottingham Research Fellow, Dr Silvi.

Low-cost and sustainable organic thermoelectrics based on low-dimensional molecular metals

A REF2021 submission publication from Professor Woodward, on the growing field of Thermoelectrics.            Professor Woodward paper on Thermoelectrics

Recent Publications

Enantioselective “clip-cycle” synthesis of di-, tri- and spiro-substituted tetrahydropyrans. Alomari, K., Pavan Chakravarthy, N. S., Duchadeau, B., Ermanis, K., & Clarke, P. A. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2022.

Nickel‐Catalyzed Arylative Cyclizations of Alkyne‐ and Allene‐Tetethered Electrophiles using Arylboron Reagents. Gillbard, S. M., & Lam, H. W. Chem. Eur. J. 2022.

Enantioselective nickel-catalyzed anti-arylmetallative cyclizations onto acyclic electron-deficient alkenes.          Gillbard, S. M., Green, H., Argent, S. P., & Lam, H. W. Chem. Commun. 202157, 4436-4439.

Stereodivergent Total Syntheses of (+)-Monomorine I and (+)-Indolizidine 195B. Dawood, R.S., & Stockman, R. A. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2021, 3850.

Enantioselective Nickel‐Catalyzed anti ‐Arylmetallative Cyclizations onto Acyclic Ketones. Green, H., Argent, S., & Lam, H. Chem. Eur. J. 202127(19), 5897-5900.

Mapping the interaction between eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A) and the inhibitor hippuristanol using carbene footprinting and mass spectrometry.            Lloyd, J. R., Hogan, A., Paschalis, V., Bellamy-Carter, J., Bottley, A., Seymour, G. B., Hayes, C. J., & Oldham, N. J. Proteomics. 2021, e2000288.

A Guide to Directing Group Removal: 8-Aminoquinoline.  L. S. Fitzgerald, M. L. O'Duill, Chem. Eur. J. 202127, 8411.

RAFT polymerisation of renewable terpene (meth)acrylates and the convergent synthesis of methacrylate-acrylate-methacrylate triblock copolymers.  Atkinson, R. L., Monaghan, O., Elsmore, M. T., Topham, P. D., Toolan, D. T. W., Derry, M. J., Stockman, R., …Howdle, S. M. Polym. Chem. 2021, 12(21), 3177-3189.

Bismuth(V)-Mediated C–H Arylation of Phenols and Naphthols. Senior, A., & Ball, L. T. Synlett. 2021, 32(03), 235-240.

Catalytic enantioselective arylative cyclizations of alkynyl 1,3-diketones by 1,4-rhodium(i) migration.            Groves, A., Sun, J., Parke, H. R. I., Callingham, M., Argent, S. P., Taylor, L. J., & Lam, H. W. Chem Sci202011(10), 2759–2764.

Kinetic Analysis of Domino Catalysis: a Case Study on Gold-Catalyzed Arylation. Ball, L. T., Corrie, T., Cresswell, A., & Lloyd-Jones, G. C. ACS Catalysis. 2020, 10(18), 10420–10426. 

A Practical Catalytic Reductive Amination of Carboxylic Acids. Stoll, E., Tongue, T., Andrews, K. G., Valette, D., Hirst, D. J., & Denton, R. M. Chemical Science. 2020, 11(35), 9494-9500.

Structural and biochemical evaluation of bisubstrate inhibitors of protein arginine N-methyltransferases PRMT1 and CARM1 (PRMT4). Gunnell, E. A., Al-Noori, A., Muhsen, U., Davies, C. C., Dowden, J., & Dreveny, I. Biochemical Journal. 2020, 477(4), 787–800.


Postgraduate research

We are interested in the recruitment of talented and enthusiastic students with a passion for creative research.

Chemistry PhD/MRes

Research Fellowships

How to Apply

Postgraduate Funding

Postgraduate students using fumehoods



School of Chemistry

University Park Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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