News

January 2021: Megan Bradbury joins the Willans group. Megan is a PhD student on the Molecules to Product CDT, and is working on base metal catalysed processes of relevance to industry.

October 2020: Tom Prentice joins the Willans group to start his PhD which involves working on understanding the complexities of transfer hydrogenation of imines using iridium supported catalysts. His PhD project is funded by AstraZeneca and the Lowson Scholarship.

October 2020: Paper ‘Alternating polarity for enhanced electrochemical synthesis‘ accepted into Reaction Chemistry and Engineering. Another fruitful collaboration with colleagues in Leeds.

May 2020: Another couple of papers accepted. A review article ‘Making electrochemistry easily accessible to the synthetic chemistinto Green Chemistry, and a perspective ‘Electrochemistry in continuous systems‘ into Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry. Congratulations to those involved, especially Christiane and Tom.

April 2020: A Versatile Electrochemical Batch Reactor for Synthetic Organic and Inorganic Transformations and Analytical Electrochemistry accepted into Organic Process Research & Development. This work is part of a collaborative (with Nik Kapur, Richard Bourne and Bao Nguyen) EPSRC-funded project which is developing an electrochemical flow platform for metal catalyst screening and optimisation.

March 2020: Silver(I) N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes Derived from Clotrimazole: Antiproliferative Activity and Interaction with an Artificial Membrane-Based Biosensor accepted into Organometallics. Congratulations to former PhD student Dr Heba Mohamed who led this large body of work, with collaboration across three research groups and two institutions.

March 2020: Abi attended the Women in Chemistry Conference at the University of Nottingham. Abi reports that ‘it was a really inspiring conference with a diverse array of presenters discussing not only their work but also their career journey. Speakers discussed their successes but also highlighted their failures, showing perseverance and resilience, and encouraged career moves that felt right for their life as a whole, not just their career. My favourite part of the day would have to be the panel at the end, as the atmosphere was warm, supportive and relaxed which led to some thought-provoking discussions that the whole audience could be involved with.’

March 2020: Christiane was invited to present her work at the British Parliament in the STEM for Britain event. Young researchers from all over Britain apply to take part in this event with only 30 places in Chemistry. Christiane was excited to present her work to the Leeds MP Hilary Benn.

February 2020: Metal complexes as a promising source for new antibiotics accepted into Chemical Science. Charlotte is delighted to have been a collaborator in this project, and looks forward to further fruitful collaboration with Angelo Frei and Dr Mark Blaskovich.

December 2019: Precious metal N-heterocyclic carbene-carbaboranyl complexes: Cytotoxic and selective compounds for the treatment of cancer accepted into the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry as part of a special issue following the 9th International Symposium on Bioorganometallic Chemistry. The work was in collaboration with Dr Rianne Lord following discussions at the conference.

December 2019: Tom and Christiane presented at the School of Chemistry Postdoctoral Conference, with Christiane winning the runner-up prize for her talk.

December 2020: Congratulations to Frances Singer and Christopher Horbaczewskyj who graduated with PhDs. Frances is currently a PDRA at the University of Bath working with Dr Antoine Buchard, and Chris a Research Assistant at the University of York working with Prof Ian Fairlamb.

November 2019: Christiane attended the Automated Synthesis Forum in Glasgow together with John Blacker, Nick Warren and Nik Kapur from Leeds. She presented her work on the development of the electrochemical flow platform.

October 2019: Welcome to James Williams who has joined the group as a PhD student. James did his MChem degree at the University of Sheffield, and will work on sustainable synthesis.

August 2019: Abi and Charlotte attended the International Symposium in Bioorganometallic Chemistry at the University of York, where Abi won a poster prize.

July 2019: Charlotte, Christiane, Tom and Hamish attended the Dial-a-Molecule Annual Meeting in York. Congratulations to Christiane who won first prize for her poster.

June 2019: Congratulations to Chris Horbaczewskyj who passed his PhD viva. Chris worked with Richard Bourne and Charlotte on self-optimisation of continuous flow reactions using online mass spectrometry – a collaborative project with AstraZeneca.

June 2019: Our work on ‘Tethered N-Heterocyclic Carbene-Carboranyl Silver Complexes for Cancer Therapy‘ is published in Organometallics. This was a real team effort, involving fantastic past PhD and MChem students and collaborators.

June 2019: Charlotte is awarded EPSRC membership to the Women’s Engineering Society. Read about the award here.

May 2019: Charlotte gave a talk at the Continuous Flow Technology IV conference in Manchester about the group’s work on electrochemical synthesis, flow reactor technology and automated flow platforms.

May 2019: Frances Singer submits her PhD thesis after 3.5 years work on mechanisms in catalysis and electrochemical reactivity of NHC ligands, and prior to starting her PDRA position in Bath.

April 2019: Bence Solymosi joins the group from Hungary on an Erasmus+ Traineeship programme, to work on a collaborative project with Tom Chamberlain involving electrocatalysis.

February 2019: The group welcomes Tom Nicholls as a new PDRA in the group. Tom joins us from Tasmania and will work on the development of base-metal catalysts in flow.

February 2019: Christiane presented a poster at the Flow Chemistry Europe 2019 conference in Cambridge.

January 2019: Hamish Stephen attended a Dial-a-Molecule reaction kinetics workshop given by Prof  Donna Blackmond at the new ROAR facility, part of Imperial College London, to learn more about reaction progress kinetic analysis.

January 2019: Christiane Schotten attended the symposium “Quantitative NMR methods for Reaction and Process Monitoring” (NMRPM19) held in Kaiserslautern (Germany). She gave a plenary talk entitled “A continuous flow-batch hybrid reactor for commodity chemical synthesis enabled by inline NMR and temperature monitoring” (Tetrahedron 2018, 74, 5503-5509) introducing work that was undertaken in the Browne research group in Cardiff during her PhD.

January 2019: Frances Singer and Charlotte spent a week in Bath using the DReaM (Dynamic Reaction Monitoring) facility. They hope to gain further insight into the transfer hydrogenation mechanism catalysed by Ir-NHC-carborane complexes developed in the group.

December 2018: Celebrating successes in the group – Abi Frith graduated with an MSc, Jonathan Fowler graduated with a PhD, and Christiane Schotten won first prize for the best talk at the School of Chemistry Postdoctoral Conference.

November 2018: Two members of the group, Christiane Schotten and Hamish Stephen, attended the Challenges in Catalysis VI symposium in London, run by the SCI’s Fine Chemicals Group and the RSC’s Applied Catalysis Group.

October 2018: Welcome to MChem students Sidonia, Robert and Madeleine – we look forward to a productive year as the group has suddenly expanded!

September 2018: Welcome to Hamish Stephen and Abigail Frith who join the group as PhD students. Hamish will work on the electrochemical synthesis and screening of base metal catalysts, and Abi will work on the development of NHC ligands for covalent attachment to nanoparticles.

July 2018: Congratulations to Wasupol Rungtanapirom (Bank) on successfully defending his PhD thesis. Bank wrote his thesis on the activity and reactivity of N-heterocyclic carbenes at copper. Well done Bank, and good luck for your future career in Thailand.

June 2018: Congratulations to Jonathan Fowler who passed his PhD viva voce examination. Jonathan, jointly supervised by Prof Michaele Hardie, wrote his thesis on metallo-supramolecular complexes bearing NHC ligands. He will now go back over the Pennines to take up a PDRA position at the University of Manchester.

June 2018: Welcome to Undergraduate summer student Chloe Scotchbrook who is working on silver complexes for chemotherapeutic applications.

June 2018: Welcome to Christiane Schotten who joins the group as a PDRA. Christiane will develop a multifunctional flow platform for high-throughput electrochemical generation and screening of metal catalysts.

December 2017: Congratulations to Jordan Holmes who received his PhD at the graduation ceremony on 14th December, and on the same day found out he had secured a job at SIKA – well done Jordan!

September 2017: Welcome to Hamish Stephen and Emily Roome who have joined the group as 4th year MChem students. Hamish will work on the systematic variation of carbene backbones and effects in catalysis, and Emily will work on electrochemical metal-free arylation of heterocycles.

August 2017: Charlotte wins a major EPSRC grant, in collaboration with Bao Nguyen, Richard Bourne and Nik Kapur. The team in Leeds will develop a multifunctional flow platform that integrates electrochemical catalyst synthesis, screening and optimisation. The project is supported by industry, with companies from reactor developers, equipment and software suppliers and potential downstream users forming a strategic industrial advisory board.

June 2017: More postgraduate conference success! Congratulations to Frances Singer who won a prize for her poster presentation.

May 2017: Congratulations to Grant Sherborne who passed his PhD viva voce examination.

November 2016: Congratulations to Mike Chapman who passed his PhD viva voce examination

August 2016: Congratulations to Heba Abdelgawad who passed her PhD viva voce examination.

June 2016: Congratulations to Jordan Holmes who won a prize for his talk entitled ‘Carborane-Substituted N-Heterocyclic Carbenes’ which he presented at the RSC Northern Regional Dalton Meeting held in Hull.

June 2016: Double Postgraduate Conference success! Congratulations to Mike Chapman and Grant Sherborne who won prizes for their talks at the annual postgraduate conference.

October 2015: Welcome to MChem students Daniel Lovesey, Joseph Sheppard and Rachel Kearsey.

September 2015: Welcome to Frances Singer who has joined the group as a PhD student.

September 2015: Congratulations to Jonathan Fowler who has won the Dalton Transactions prize for the best poster contribution entitled
“NHC Ligands in Metallo-supramolecular Chemistry: Fundamentals and
Towards Carbene-Appended Cavitands” at the inaugural Dalton Younger Members Event.

September 2015: Congratulations to Heba who won (yet another!) first prize for her poster at the RSC Coordination and Organometallic Chemistry Discussion Group meeting which took place at St Anne’s College in Oxford.

August 2015: Mike’s work on palladium complexes containing C, N-chelating ligands is accepted into Dalton Transactions.

July 2015: Work carried out in collaboration with Prof. Ian Fairlamb (York) and Dr Alireza Ariafard (Tasmania) is accepted for publication in Organometallics. A combined experimental and computational approach has been used to understand the arylation of NHCs at copper.

June 2015: Postgraduate Conference success. Congratulations to Heba who won runner up prize for her talk at the Postgraduate conference, and to Jordan who won first prize for his poster.

March 2015: Work carried out by Heba and in collaboration with pharmacologists in Huddersfield is accepted into Dalton Transactions. Heba has synthesised a range of Ag-NHC complexes derived from caffeine and other xanthine precursors, and examined the anticancer properties of these complexes.

March 2015: Work carried out by Grant and Mike has been accepted into JACS. The paper entitled ‘Activation and deactivation of a robust immobilized Cp*Ir-transfer hydrogenation catalyst: A multielement in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy study‘ shows how catalyst deactivation can be studied using XAFS.

January 2015: Work carried out by Mike Chapman has been accepted into Chem. Commun. Our paper entitled ‘σ-Vinyl endo-palladacycle formation via regiospecific functionalisation of an unreactive NHC-tethered C(sp2) – H bond‘ shows the unusual reactivity of an NHC allyl substituent, with specific electronic control. Well done Mike!

December 2014:  Work carried out by Mike Chapman has been accepted into Chem. Commun. Our paper entitled ‘Electrochemical flow-reactor for expedient synthesis of copper-N-heterocyclic carbene complexes‘ shows how the electrochemical synthetic methodology that we developed within the Willans group can be translated into flow reactors.

October 2014: New MChem students, Susan and Natalie, join the research group – Welcome.  Also, a big welcome to Jonathan Fowler who has started his PhD joint with the Hardie group in Leeds.

October 2014: Funding secured from the Dial-a-Molecule (EPSRC) group and HVCM Hub.

September 2014: Congratulations to Ben Lake who has secured a post-doctoral research position in the Shaver group at Edinburgh University. Well done Ben!

August 2014: Congratulations to Ben Lake who passed his PhD viva voce examination.

July 2014: Chemistry-A European Journal paper on oxidative coupling of NHCs accepted for publication.

June 2014: Heba wins a research poster prize at the RSC Northern Regional Dalton meeting at the University of Huddersfield.

June 2014: Wasupol joins the group as a PhD student working on the deactivation of NHC ligands.

April 2014: Madhurima Das joins the group as an MSc in Chemical Biology student.

March 2014: Organometallics paper on Cu(I) and Cu(II) NHC complexes accepted for publication.

December 2013: Group awarded pump-priming funding from high value chemical manufacture hub (Leeds).

September 2013: Chemistry-A European Journal paper on ‘copper(I) alkene interactions in copper-NHC complexes’ is accepted for publication – well done Ben Lake.

September 2013: Michael Chapman and Jordan Holmes join the research group as new PhD students.

July 2013: Ben Lake gives a research presentation at the Coordination Chemistry Discussion Group meeting held at Imperial College London entitled ‘Novel N-heterocyclic carbene ligand precursors and the synthesis of metal-N-heterocyclic carbene complexes’.

April 2013: Emma Bullough successfully defends her PhD thesis and is the first PhD student to graduate from the Willans research group.

April 2013: Heba Abdelgawad joins the group to work on silver-NHCs in cancer therapy.

October 2012: A Leeds International Research Scholarship has been secured for Heba Abdelgawad to join the group in April 2013. We very much look forward to welcoming Heba to Leeds.

October 2012: Group awarded Royal Society Equipment funding for highthroughput catalysis.

August 2012: PhD student Emma Bullough has secured a position at Croda.

March 2012: Dr. Willans has been awarded a Leeds University Research Scholarship to start in January 2013.

January 2012: Dalton Transactions paper ‘Enhanced cytotoxicity of silver complexes bearing bidentate N-heterocyclic carbene ligands‘ accepted, which was picked up by the media – see New Scientist article.

October 2011: The research group has been awarded funding by Yorkshire Cancer Research to explore the anti-cancer activity of silver complexes. This project is in collaboration with Dr. R. M. Phillips at the University of Bradford. Click here for further details.

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