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Professor Charlotte Williams wins outstanding achievement award in the field of catalytic scienceProfessor Charlotte Williams wins outstanding achievement award in the field of catalytic science

The UK catalysis hub has awarded Charlotte Williams the Sir John Meurig Thomas (JMT) Catalysis Medal for 2017. The award recognises the development of catalysts and applications in sustainable chemistry. Professor Williams was presented with the medal at the UK Catalysis Hub Winter Conference on 14 December.

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On the Cover of RSC ChemCommOn the Cover of RSC ChemComm

A collaboration between Professor J Green and Professor G Cloke (University of Sussex) has been highlighted on the cover of the RSC ChemComm. The work investigates a dititanium complex which undergoes C-H activation to form a “tucked-in” bridging hydride complex. The “tuck-in” process is reversed by the addition of hydrogen, which yields a dihydride featuring terminal and bridging hydrides. The cover was designed by Dr Karl Harrison.

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RSC Poster Symposium: Three Wins for Oxford SBM CDT StudentRSC Poster Symposium: Three Wins for Oxford SBM CDT Student

Heyao Shi and Thomas Davies, 4th year DPhil students on the SBM CDT, have each been awarded prizes at the RSC organic division graduate poster symposium. Heyao (DJD group), took the runner-up prize and the flash presentation prize for his poster entitled “Total Synthesis of (-)-Himalensine A”, whilst Thomas (MCW group), won the Industry Prize with his poster titled "One-pot Sulfonimidamide Synthesis via the Sulfinylamine Reagent TrNSO". It was a great year for Oxford, with Dimitri Caputo (EAA group/SBM CDT), Alison Fugard (MDS group/SBM CDT) and Wasim Akhtar (TJD group) also invited to the prestigious symposium.

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Cambridge Chemistry Challenge AwardsCambridge Chemistry Challenge Awards

On Tuesday 21 November, Dr Andrew Worrall (Laboratory Course Developer) was part of a reception at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London to reward the 55 Lower Sixth students who were given Roentgenium Awards in the 2017 Cambridge Chemistry Challenge competition. This competition was started in 2011 by a group of chemists including Andrew, who were on the RSC Olympiad committee and who were convinced that a chemistry challenge was needed for Year 12 A-level chemists in schools. Every year an exam is written by the committee and it is sat by over 7000 students in 500 schools in the UK. The students attending the reception on Tuesday each gave a short lecture on their favourite element and were all presented with a trophy of a glass cube which contained a laser-generated image of a 2p orbital. If you fancy having a look at some of the questions that the committee have come up with in the past, visit the competition website

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Highlighted with ChemComm Cover Art Highlighted with ChemComm Cover Art

Asymmetric metal-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions are relatively new but of potentially huge importance to Chemistry Research and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Recent work by Mireia Sidera, Philipp Schafer, Thomas Palacin and others in the Fletcher group on developing cross-coupling reactions with racemic starting materials, and their application to the synthesis of natural products and drugs has been highlighted as a Feature Article in Chem Comm. The Cover of the issue also highlights the work and uses an illustration by Karl Harrison.

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On the Cover of Angewandte ChemieOn the Cover of Angewandte Chemie

Research from the Carol Robinson group has been highlighted on the cover of Angewandte Chemie. The image shows schematically the electrospray plume liberating trapped soluble or membrane proteins, which are then transferred into the gas phase and so native desorption electrospray ionization releases intact protein complexes deposited on surfaces enabling rapid characterization in a mass spectrometer.

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Pfizer-sponsored Symposium prizesPfizer-sponsored Symposium prizes

Many congratulations to Sam Chan (JWB group), Heyao Shi (DJD group), Florence Downs (HB group) and Moses Moustakim (DJD group and Paul E. Brennan group, Structural Genomics Consortium, Target Discovery Institute,) for winning prizes for poster presentations at the Pfizer-sponsored Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology Symposium. Winners are pictured here with judges: Dr David Blakemore (Pfizer), Dr Celine Cano (Newcastle University), Prof Nicholas Westwood (University of St. Andrews) and Prof Tom Brown (University of Oxford).

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President-Elect of the RSC Faraday DivisionPresident-Elect of the RSC Faraday Division

Professor Claire Vallance has been declared President-Elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Faraday Division. The Faraday Division provides a forum for physical and biophysical chemistry, molecular and chemical physics and theoretical chemistry and seeks to promote and raise the profile of all aspects of physical chemistry. Prof. Vallance's research interests include reaction dynamics, applications of velocity-map and spatial-map imaging to mass spectrometry, and the development of laser spectroscopy techniques for microfluidics and chemical sensing applications.

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ABInBev PrizesABInBev Prizes

The Department of Chemistry was delighted to present the prizes generously sponsored byABInBev at the Departmental Prize giving ceremony on 12 October 2017.

These five prizes are awarded to 2nd year undergraduates who have shown excellence in the field of chemistry: Daniya Aynetdinova - 1st place; Philip van Heusde - 2nd place; Daniel Sheldon - 3rd place; Benjamin Shennan - Joint 4th place; Simon Hulse - Joint 4th place

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Bruker PrizesBruker Prizes

The Department of Chemistry was delighted to present the prizes generously sponsored by Bruker at the Departmental Prize giving ceremony on 12 October 2017. These three prizes are awarded to 1st year undergraduates who have shown excellence in the field of chemistry: Jing Yee Kee - 1st place; Wojciech Gruchot - 2nd place; Chuyan Tang - 3rd place

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GlaxoSmithKline Prizes 2017 PresentationGlaxoSmithKline Prizes 2017 Presentation

The Department of Chemistry was very pleased to welcome Dr Jacob Bush to present the GlaxoSmithKline Awards at the Departmental Prize-giving:

The GlaxoSmithKline 3rd Year Undergraduate Prizes in Practical Organic Chemistry

Callum Hall (Part II supervisor – Professor Veronique Gouverneur)

Hikaru Seki (Part II supervisor – Professor Steve Davies)

Leila-Mei Tan (Part II supervisor – Professor Stuart Conway)

These three prizes are awarded to 3rd year undergraduates who have shown excellence in their experimental work and written submission.

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GlaxoSmithKline Prizes 2017 PresentationGlaxoSmithKline Prizes 2017 Presentation

The Department of Chemistry was very pleased to welcome Dr Jacob Bush to present the GlaxoSmithKline Awards at the Departmental Prize-giving:

The GlaxoSmithKline Awards in Organic Chemistry Part II

Alistair Sterling – 1st prize (Part II supervisor: Professor Ed Anderson; currently Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT student)

Jonathan Moloney– 2nd prize (Part II supervisor: Professor Jeremy Robertson; currently Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT student)

Jack Sutro – 3rd prize (Part II supervisor: Professor Martin Smith; currently Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT student)

These prizes are awarded to the highest ranked Oxford graduates (based on their combined Part I and Part II performance) who continue into postgraduate research in Organic Chemistry in Oxford, in the same calendar year.

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Scientific glassblowing – a crucial but endangered craftScientific glassblowing – a crucial but endangered craft

The weekend edition of the Guardian features an interview with Terri Adams, Scientific Glassblower for the Department of Chemistry, in which she talks about her career and the challenges of maintaining this important skill for the future. Earlier this year, the Heritage Crafts Association published a report on endangered traditional crafts in the UK. Scientific glassblowing was on the red list of those that might die out completely, with fewer than 50 currently employed in the UK.

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President-Elect of the Royal Society of ChemistryPresident-Elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Professor Dame Carol Robinson, interviewed by the Royal Society of Chemistry, shares some reflections on her extraordinary career and her thoughts on her upcoming term as President. Carol is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. Her research has attracted international awards including the Anfinsen Award from the Protein Society and the Davy Medal and Rosalind Franklin Award from the Royal Society. Carol also holds five honorary doctorates and received a DBE in 2013 for her contribution to science and industry.

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Reimagining How We Diagnose Disease: a New Chemistry Spinout based on the work of Professor Jason DavisReimagining How We Diagnose Disease: a New Chemistry Spinout based on the work of Professor Jason Davis

Osler Diagnostics, a new Oxford spinout based on the work of Professor Jason Davis, aims to revolutionise the way diseases are diagnosed by producing a simple, cheap, and effective handheld device that is as easy to use as its famous cousin, the blood glucose monitor developed by Oxford chemists in the 1980s.

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Nearly Electrolyte-Free VoltammetryNearly Electrolyte-Free Voltammetry

Researchers in the Compton Group have developed a simple and efficient way to prepare ultra-low conductivity water for use in electrochemical experiments. CO2 dissolution in water has a large impact on its conductivity - within tens of seconds after leaving a water purifier, conductivity increases substantially due to CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. The Compton Group researchers removed the CO2 using ion exchange resin beads to prepare aqueous media with very low conductivity, allowing a wider potential window to be studied. This method provides a platform for fundamental studies on, for example, the electrical double layer structure, conductivity mechanisms, water behavior at interfaces, and under high electric fields.

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Microwaving CokeMicrowaving Coke

Many industrial petrochemical reactions are carried out over zeolite-based catalysts. The build-up of hydrocarbon side-products (coke) on zeolite catalysts leads to their deactivation and is a ubiquitous problem in the petrochemical and energy transformation industries. Characterising the coke that forms is important to understanding and mitigating catalyst deactivation. Tiancun Xiao, Peter Edwards, and colleagues in the UK and Saudi Arabia have developed a microwave cavity perturbation method to examine the type and quantity of coke produced. They measured the dielectric properties of the coked catalysts by positioning the sample in an electric field that is generated inside a microwave resonant cavity. The dielectric loss value, normalised by the weight of coke formed, provides a unique identifier for various types of coke that can be deposited. Measurements take milliseconds to perform and the technique is non-invasive and fully penetrates the sample, allowing even coke that is contained deep within the porous structure of the catalyst to be probed.

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Learning from Nature at the Curiosity Carnival 2017Learning from Nature at the Curiosity Carnival 2017

Members of the Vincent group brought their research to Oxford’s Curiosity Carnival on Friday September 29th. Part of European Researcher’s Night, the first-ever Curiosity Carnival was designed to explain research through fun, interactive learning, providing a unique opportunity to meet scientists, ask questions and discover how research affects and changes all our lives. Visitors to the Vincent group stand enjoyed games and demonstrations (including foam explosions!) illustrating how chemists learn from nature, and how chemists can intensify nature to make the everyday chemicals we all need, on the scale that we need them. The HydRegen project in the Vincent group is developing new ways to harness enzymes for producing complex chemicals that are hard to synthesise in the laboratory and to provide more sustainable methods for making the essential chemicals we rely on every day.

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AstraZeneca-sponsored Final Year D.Phil. SymposiumAstraZeneca-sponsored Final Year D.Phil. Symposium

The AstraZeneca-sponsored Final Year D.Phil. Symposium was held in the Chemistry Research Laboratory across two days this week. This annual event celebrates the strength and depth of graduate research in organic chemistry and chemical biology at Oxford and recognises the achievements of graduate students in their final year. Prizes were awarded to Wasim Akhtar (Donohoe group), Ellen Gallimore (Schofield group), Stephen Hyde (Gouverneur group) and Kat Badiola (Martin Smith group) by Jeremy Parker and Bill McCoull from AstraZeneca.

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First paper from the UCB-Oxford Late Stage Functionalisation Group appears onlineFirst paper from the UCB-Oxford Late Stage Functionalisation Group appears online

The Late Stage Functionalisation Project, a collaboration between UCB BioPharma and Oxford, has published its first paper “C–H Cyanation of 6-Ring N-Containing Heteroaromatics” in Chemistry – A European Journal. The transformation is achieved through triflic anhydride activation, nucleophilic addition of cyanide, followed by elimination of trifluoromethanesulfinate to regenerate the cyanated heteroaromatic ring. This one-pot protocol is simple to perform, and is shown to be effective in the presence of sensitive functional groups, and across a range of substitution patterns. It has been applied to the late stage functionalisation of several complex drugs, demonstrating its great potential utility for medicinal chemists. Computational studies have shown that site selectivity can be easily predicted through the use of Fukui indices, aiding the application of the methodology to complex substrates.

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EIT Health Doctoral Transition Fellowship 2017EIT Health Doctoral Transition Fellowship 2017

Congratulations to Aini Vuorinen who has been awarded a BRONZE prize of €10,000 through the EIT Health Doctoral Transition Fellowship 2017. Aini, a Muscular Dystrophy UK-funded DPhil student in the AJR group, presented her pitch to the panel describing her innovative research. The award has been established to address the innovation funding gap between the submission of the doctoral thesis and pre-thesis defence, and Aini will work on a project with Summit Therapeutics to elucidate the molecular mechanism of action of small molecule modulators of utrophin for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

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Kew Gardens uses Oxford Nanopore MinION device in the fieldKew Gardens uses Oxford Nanopore MinION device in the field

As reported in the Times (Saturday 23 September), it is now possible to sequence plant genomes in the field. Scientists from Kew Gardens used the MinION portable sequencing device to identify and distinguish between two very similar-looking plants in a remote area of Snowdonia with no mains power, mobile phone signal or internet. MinION was developed by Oxford Nanopore, a company founded in 2005 on the science of Professor Hagan Bayley. The device, about the size of a smartphone, uses nanopore-based sequencing technology to enable easy, quick and low-cost biological analyses that can be performed anywhere - effectively bringing the lab to the field and opening up new possibilities for many areas of scientific research.

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Dixon group paper on the synthesis of tertiary amines is online in Chemical ScienceDixon group paper on the synthesis of tertiary amines is online in Chemical Science

A manuscript from the Dixon group on ‘Tertiary amine synthesis via reductive coupling of amides with Grignard reagents’ is accepted to publish in Chemical Science. The paper describes a new and technically simple one-pot protocol for synthesising tertiary amines using tertiary amides as starting materials and Grignard reagents as the reactive coupling partners for carbon-carbon bond formation. The protocol displays broad scope of with respect to the amide, and the Grignard reagent. Numerous functional groups useful for known downstream coupling reactions are well-tolerated. The organomagnesium reagents can be standard Grignard reagents from commercial sources or made via the Knochel halogen-magnesium exchange protocols. Direct synthetic utility of the chemistry has been illustrated by applying to the synthesis of a number of drug compounds and late stage functionalization of several drug compounds and natural product derivatives.

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Poster Prize for Jeroen SapPoster Prize for Jeroen Sap

Congratulations to Jeroen Sap for winning an poster presentation prize at the 17th Annual RSC Fluorine Subject Group Postgraduate Meeting, held at the University of Leicester. Jeroen is a first year DPhil student in the Gouverneur group funded by the EPSRC and Pfizer. He presented a poster entitled “Late Stage 18F-Fluorination of -CF2H Groups in CNS Drug-Like Molecules"

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Poster Prize for Thomas WilsonPoster Prize for Thomas Wilson

Congratulation to Thomas Wilson for winning a poster prize at the 6th UKPET Chemistry Conference held in Hull (September 2017). Thomas, a Cancer Research UK funded DPhil student in the Gouverneur group, presented his work on the 18F labelling of unmodified peptides using the 18F-Umemoto reagent.

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Presentation Prze for Stephen HydePresentation Prze for Stephen Hyde

Congratulations to Stephen Hyde for winning an oral presentation prize at the 17th Annual RSC Fluorine Subject Group Postgraduate Meeting, held at the University of Leicester. Stephen is a third year DPhil student in the Gouverneur group funded by the EPSRC and AstraZeneca. He gave a talk entitled “Novel Strategies for Accessing the Heteroatom-CH2CF3 motif”.

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Poster Prize for Leah Taylor-KearneyPoster Prize for Leah Taylor-Kearney

Congratulations to Leah Taylor-Kearney for winning a prize for her poster at the N-Term2017 meeting in Halle, Germany (11-13 Sept). Leah is a joint D.Phil. student between the Flashman group (Chemistry) and Rickaby group (Earth Sciences), and presented work which she has conducted in collaboration with Francesco Licausi from the University of Pisa (Italy) describing conserved function for a Plant Cysteine Oxidase from the early land plant Marchantia polymorphia. The meeting brought together the international community interested in regulation of protein stability by the N-end rule pathway.

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Poster Prize for Mireia SideraPoster Prize for Mireia Sidera

Mireia Sidera, a postdoc in the Fletcher group was awarded the EURJOC poster prize in the 26th International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry congress held in Regensburg in September 2017 on her work entitled "Asymmetric Cross-couplings using Racemic Starting Materials”

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Poster Prize for Sarah MorrowPoster Prize for Sarah Morrow

Sarah Morrow (bottom right), a third year PhD student in the Fletcher group, won a poster prize at the XVIII International Conference on the Origin of Life, hosted at the University of California, San Diego, in July. Her poster was entitled “Physical Autocatalysis Far From Equilibrium”

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Revolutionary process could signal new era for gene synthesisRevolutionary process could signal new era for gene synthesis

Gene synthesis is a vital research tool with real-world applications in everything from growing transplantable organs to developing treatments for cancer. In a new study in Nature Chemistry, scientists at the University of Southampton, in collaboration with partners at the University of Oxford and ATDBio (a DNA synthesis company based in Southampton and Oxford), demonstrate a purely chemical method for gene assembly which overcomes the limitations of existing methods. Study co-author Professor Tom Brown commented “The synthesis of chemically modified genes, which we have achieved by a radical new approach, will become ever more important as the effects of epigenetically modified DNA on gene expression become clear. We started the underpinning work on click ligation over 10 years ago, so it’s very satisfying to now be at the stage where we can demonstrate this workable and highly effective new approach to gene synthesis.”

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