• ECAB2022/23

     

Science of Synthesis presents the first Early Career Advisory Board Members

Science of Synthesis is pleased to announce the initiation of an Early Career Advisory Board (ECAB) to help promote young talented chemists.

We are delighted to announce the first members of the Science of Synthesis Early Career Advisory Board for 2022-2023! We are looking forward to working with each of them and learning about their ideas and perspectives. As we would like you to get to know them better, we conducted interviews with all of them. Find out, which field of organic chemistry they are most interested in and why, which chemist would they like to meet once in a lifetime, which difficulties they see for young upcoming chemists in their field and how you can handle it, and last but not least: what they do to relax after a busy day! Enjoy the read!

Learn more about the SOS ECAB.

Press Release

© Roly Armstrong

Dr. Roly J. Armstrong Newcastle University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Roly J. Armstrong

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why? 

     

    I am fascinated by the shape and stereochemistry of organic molecules. This is essential for drug discovery, because three-dimensional (chiral) molecules often display much higher selectivity and potency than traditional two-dimensional candidates. I am interested in taking advantage of this by preparing new biologically relevant 3D materials, using asymmetric catalysis to precisely tailor their chirality.   

     

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be? 

     

    Escaping the flatland doesn’t always mean increasing the fraction of sp3 carbons in a molecule. It is often possible to repurpose well-established sp2 building blocks to access exciting new three-dimensional structures based upon axial, planar and helical chirality.   

      

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day? 

     

    I am just as passionate about fishing as I am about stereochemistry, and outside of work hours, I can often be found beside the beautiful River Tyne.  

      

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?
     

    Probably R. B. Woodward. I think that what he accomplished was truly astonishing, especially given that it was achieved without access to many of the tools and techniques we consider as standard today.   

     

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future? 

     

    Organic materials are central in all disciplines of science, so there will always be great demand for new materials and synthetic methods, particularly when it comes tackling major 21st century challenges in healthcare and energy. I think that the focus going forward will increasingly shift towards three-dimensional materials, and how to access them more efficiently.  

     

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?
     

    I think that being an early career scientist is a job that comes with more opportunities for rejection than most (papers, jobs, grants etc). At times it can feel overwhelming, but my advice is to keep going, as persistence will eventually pay off. 

© Giada Arena

Dr. Jack Chen Auckland University of Technology

  • 6 questions to Dr. Jack Chen

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am especially interested in the development of synergistic and multifunctional catalysts. The idea of bringing together different functional groups to reveal new reactivity not seen in the presence of either group on its own is fascinating. It’s an entry into the discovery of more efficient catalytic processes and novel chemical transformations.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    That synergistic effects observed between two catalyst moieties can be modulated by their arrangement in space. Control over how the catalytic moieties are arranged with respect to each other (e.g. via self-assembly processes) can result in modulation of catalytic activity and allow the incorporation of stimuli-responsive properties. It also opens up interesting fundamental questions on self-sorting, self-assembly and enzyme mimicry.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    If it’s not too late in the evening, hanging out with colleagues/friends with a creamy stout in the winter, or a refreshing Aperol Spritz in the summer.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Linus Pauling. It would be fascinating to attend one of his famous lectures and get some insight into how his brain works!

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    The potential is limitless. Apart from the novel reactivity modes yet to be discovered, most current methods may be obsolete in a few decades as even greater focus is given to sustainability and green chemical methods. A lot of work still must be done to develop more efficient synthetic processes that are sustainable, and which do not harm our environment. It’s a challenging road ahead with plenty of opportunities.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Apart from the difficulty in attracting funding, I’d say finding something you’re passionate about that hasn’t been done before! Tip: keep reading, learn by talking to fellow chemists (especially ones just outside your area of expertise), be open to collaborations and be supportive of each other.

© Private

Dr. Lingling Chu Donghua University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Lingling Chu

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am interested in the field of metal-catalyzed radical chemistry, as I believe this field can create diverse reactions to access functional molecules.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Utilizing metal catalysts to tame radicals for the precise and selective construction of C-C bonds and C-heteroatom bonds. 

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Stay with my two lovely daughters.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Marie Skłodowska Curie. She is the greatest female chemist and a real role model for girls.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Creating any functional organic molecules with high precision. 

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Major difficulties lie in building your research team with big funding and highly motivated students and getting recognized by peers. 

© Private

Dr. Emilio C. de Lucca, jr. University of Campinas

  • 6 questions to Dr. Emilio C. de Lucca, jr.

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am most interested in the total synthesis of (un)natural products. The endless possibilities of carbonic architecture and functional group ornament make the synthesis of natural and unnatural products an equally unlimited challenge!

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Synthesizing a new molecule is like playing Lego, but with much smaller pieces. Sometimes you can use the manual, sometimes you need to find new ways to put the pieces together!

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I am a big consumer of TV series, sometimes accompanied by a beer or wine. I also enjoy reading, currently I'm reading Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Sometimes I take a walk, but less than I should...

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Hermann Emil Fischer. In my classes, I try to bring some of the history behind the transformations or the discoveries, and talking about Fischer's synthesis and determination of sugars with the tools available at the time makes me really excited!

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Every day, more selective and efficient methods and transformations appear. I see organic chemistry playing an increasingly central role in people's daily lives, bringing cheaper and more efficient medicines, delivering more food or even in the development of new materials for anything we are able to think of.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I would not restrict my answer to a young chemist, but to a young person in general. A great difficulty we have faced is misinformation and lack of interest in reliable information. We need to invest some of our time outside of universities and laboratories and speak to our community in a clear language about the benefits of science.

© Nitzan Zohar

Dr. Graham de Ruiter Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

  • 6 questions to Dr. Graham de Ruiter

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am most interested in developing new catalysts for organic reaction development and methodology. Although relatively new to the subject, my interest lies at the developing new earth-abundant metal-based catalysts in order to develop new chemical transformations or optimize those that are previously known to be catalyzed by noble metals.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Through Chemistry Everything is Possible.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    After a busy day, I’d like to unwind in the Sauna or Steam Room, followed by a nice cup of tea at home together with my wife.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    There are many chemist whom I would like to meet and from whom I could learn. If I had to choose one specifically, however,  I would choose Michael Faraday not only because of the extend of his scientific discoveries both in chemistry and in physics, but also because of his devotion to God. His life story and discoveries are/were a great inspiration to past giants in the sciences but also to the future leaders in chemistry.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    In the current day where advanced materials and technologies set the standard, we can clearly see the role that (organic) chemistry has played in the development of these technologies in the past. Given the past role of organic chemistry, we can only be in awe for the future role organic chemistry will play. With an increasing demand for (i) more complex pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, (ii) new sustainable methodologies and transformations, or (iii) novel smart materials, the influence of organic chemistry or the organic chemist will only increase. I therefore predict a bright future for organic chemistry where we are only at the forefront of what remains to be discovered.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    It think some difficulties are related to being “relatively unknown” in the field of research. At least for me, when starting my independent career it was and sometimes still is difficult to get past the editorial screening when submitting manuscripts to the journals . Because there is generally no established research line at the early stages of your career, that helps establishing a good reputation, good quality work of early career researchers is sometimes difficult to publish and sometimes simply overlooked due to the immense competition for the top journals. I hope that - without compromising on the quality - journals will be able to highlight or have a small dedicated section that is devoted to manuscripts published by early career researchers. I am glad to see that some journals are already showcasing such manuscripts.

© Christoph Mischke

Dr. Max Hansmann Technische Universität Dortmund

  • 6 questions to Dr. Max Hansmann

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am interested in several fields including organic redox-systems, photo catalysis and phosphorus chemistry. In particular I am interested in reactive intermediates, since these elusive compounds challenge the current bonding concepts and quantum chemical predictions.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Even if compounds appear exotic, by shutting down kinetic decomposition pathways they might become room temperature stable and in the long run might be attractive reagents for synthesis.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Spending time with my family.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Out of the many it would be interesting to talk to Giacomo Ciamician or Hermann Staudinger. Both were pioneers in several fields of chemistry, including photocatalysis and macromolecules, and discovered a series of fundamental substance classes at a time when no sophisticated analytical methods were established. It would be interesting to listen to their perspective on how chemistry has changed over the decades.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    In particular energy storage is and will be a field of enormous relevance to society in which organic chemistry might contribute more strongly, since it is clear that specific metals will not be suitable or available in the long run. Of course, pharmaceuticals and organic materials as well as developing sustainable synthesis methods will remain areas of great potential.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Obviously the Corona pandemic caused very challenging times especially for young chemists at the beginning of their career. In these turbulent times it was (and still is) challenging to set up a lab, to develop new digital teaching strategies, but also finding the right balance between research and private life.

© Christian Halvorsen

Dr. Marius M. Haugland UiT - The Arctic University of Norway

  • 6 questions to Dr. Marius M. Haugland

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    It is hard to choose just one of the many exciting areas of organic chemistry, but I am fascinated by organic radicals and their reactivity. Radical reactions provide a powerful way to construct complex molecules under mild conditions. And the tunable properties of radicals means they have many applications beyond organic synthesis. But in spite of huge developments in radical chemistry over the last 15 years, there is still a lot to discover and learn.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Not all radicals are highly reactive. In fact, certain odd-electron molecules are so stable they can be isolated, purified and handled like any bulk reagent.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I enjoy singing in a choir, getting some exercise, or simply cooking a nice meal with my partner. I believe it is very important to have a life outside the lab.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I would have loved to meet Ellen Gleditsch, a trailblazer in Norwegian chemistry. After growing up in Tromsø (where I now work), she went on to study at the Sorbonne, working with Marie Skłodowska Curie, and became a celebrated radiochemist and one of Norway’s first female professors. I admire her not only for her pioneering science and hardiness, but also for her advocacy. She was a leading early liberal feminist and a supportive mentor to her students, and she made important contributions to scientific public engagement and international policies – such as working for the regulation and control of nuclear weapons. It is quite humbling to think about, really.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    There is a lot of exciting research going on right now that makes use of enabling technologies in organic chemistry, such as electrochemistry and artificial intelligence. I think these interfaces will have an increasing impact in the field in the future, by complementing and challenging established reactivities. In the wider context, I think organic chemistry has a crucial role to play in addressing the huge challenges facing humanity in the future, such as the climate crisis and antimicrobial resistance, and I think we as organic chemists need to work to realize that potential.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I think that early-career chemists are under a triple threat from an impossibly competitive funding environment, precarious employment conditions, and systemic inequalities that disproportionately affect female, Black and other ethnic minority, LGBTQI+ and disabled chemists. But I am encouraged by the apparent growing awareness and willingness to change things for the better. My advice for others is to not be afraid to go new places and try new things if you have the opportunity, and while doing that, to find and surround yourself with people who are supportive.

© Jamie Lapsley/Blueprint Photography

Dr. Sheng-Ying Hsieh FMC Corporation

  • 6 questions to Dr. Sheng-Ying Hsieh

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    The answer varies throughout different stages in my career.  I would vote for photoredox/electrochemical reactions as hot topics during my PhD/postdoc times and they are relevant to my PhD research.  Currently, I am more interested in methodologies around N-heterocycles, and late-stage functionalizations that facilitate drug or agrochemical discoveries.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    While new drug development for life-saving treatment is always eye-catching to synthetic chemists, the global food crisis is equally important for us chemists to support.  As a discovery chemist at FMC Corporation in agrochemical industry, I see my role is somewhat similar to the medicinal chemists in pharmaceutical companies.  To secure the food safety and sustainability, our product has to be safe to environment and human, effective against plant disease, pests, or weeds, as well as affordable to farmers and growers.  It is very challenging and a really exciting job.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Sports include badminton, hiking, swimming, and skiing.  I have also enjoyed gardening and home improvement these days.  If I am allowed to stay on the couch, listening to Adele or binge-watching are good to me, too.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I’d say R. B. Woodward because we have learned of so many achievements by him.  I would be curious how he managed to weave every little piece of knowledge together into beautiful solutions to chemical problems.  Also, what would be his favorite sport or exercise? (just kidding)

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    We have observed the versatility of radical (and related) chemistry such as photoredox, electrochemical, etc, and I believe they will remain relevant and impactful for decades to come.  Automation with artificial intelligence/machine learning could be another area that I think could be useful in organic chemistry in the future.  I am also looking forward to the collaboration between Thieme Chemistry and IBM Research Europe on machining learning models for organic synthesis prediction.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    This world is changing rapidly every year, and there are always difficulties and likely no easy shortcuts to achieve one’s goals. Always keep an open mind and continue learning.

© Private

Dr. Todd Hyster Cornell University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Todd Hyster

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am very excited about biocatalysis. This is an area of catalysis interested in applying enzymes to chemical synthesis. Enzymes catalyze reactions with unparalleled activity and selectivity but are limited to relatively few synthetic transformations. My group is interested in using our knowledge of chemical reactivity to expand the synthetic capabilities of enzymes. It is a fascinating area that allows you to be very creative.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Enzymes are capable of more reactions than what they catalyze in nature.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I often golf to relax. After a long day, I enjoy grabbing a delicious beer and sitting on my deck.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    It would be interesting to meet Antoine Lavoisier. He obviously had a significant impact on the development of chemistry but was also part of the aristocracy during the French Revolution. I imagine he would have fantastic stories.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    I think it is an exciting time for organic chemistry. Advances often occur at the intersection of two distinct areas, and many researchers are looking at these areas. I am excited about the prospect of machine learning to accelerate reaction development and potentially provide reactivity insights. The advances in electrosynthesis are exciting, and I am eager to see this area discover new reactivity patterns. Finally, I think there are opportunities for chemistry to impact the study of biology.

© Private

Dr. Nidhi Jain Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

  • 6 questions to Dr. Nidhi Jain

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am interested in the field of C-H bond functionalization in organic molecules. The potential of C-H bonds as functional groups can be best realized only if we have strategies to activate them directly and engage them in the desired synthetic transformation. This technology opens avenue for late-stage functionalization in complex molecular architectures and hence is very attractive and promising.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    We have been exploring methods through which C-H bond activation and functionalization can be achieved in an economical, regioselective, and environmentally benign manner especially in heterocycles of medicinal importance. New C-C, C-N, C-O and C-S bond formation strategies assisted by palladium and copper catalysts, hypervalent iodine reagents and via photocatalysis in visible light have been developed by our group. 

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I usually unwind by relaxing on my recliner chair with a cup of tea in hand. I listen to discourses on spirituality and practice meditation every day to rejuvenate and destress.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Given a chance, I would like to meet Marie Curie. Not just because she was a phenomenal chemist, but because of her courage and dedication to pursue her passion in science when rarely any women would pursue it as a career in those times. 

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Organic chemistry is the backbone and essence of human life. Be it pharmaceutics, medicines, materials, energy storage, organic electronics, or polymers; synthesis of organic molecules is fundamental and central to all. Application of artificial intelligence in design and synthesis is an upcoming field and can undoubtedly speed up development of new drugs and expedite synthesis.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    The area of C-H bond functionalization is extremely competitive and is developing at a fast pace. Numerous research groups across the globe are working in tandem on harnessing its full potential. Therefore, to contribute to this area, it is important for the upcoming chemists to target a research problem that is unique and not an extension work. A clear understanding of the challenges manifested in the C-H functionalization chemistry is also important for developing enabling solutions.

© Private

Dr. Kevin Lam The University of Greenwich

  • 6 questions to Dr. Kevin Lam

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I’m highly interested in Organic Electrosynthesis, I find this hybrid discipline that combines electrochemistry with organic synthesis fascinating since there is still so much to discover in the field.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    We use electrochemistry across the fields, ranging from organic synthesis to medicinal chemistry. Electron transfers are ubiquitous in chemistry and electrochemistry provides the ideal tools to study them.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    My students and post doc always joke that I operate only in two modes: “Chemistry” or “Food” – I guess I’m a  foodie and I always enjoy discovering new cuisines and food cultures!
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I think the obvious answer would be Michael Faraday for his contribution to electrochemistry. I did pay him a visit at Highgate cemetery where he is buried.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Organic chemistry is everywhere. If you think about it, people across the fields will always have a need for new organic molecules. And I am also pleased that the synthetic community is striving to develop new and greener approaches in the field.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    One of the most challenging things for a young chemist is finding a permanent position. The job competition is fierce! My advice is never to give up!

© Jamieson Dean Photography

Dr. Christine Le York University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Christine Le

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am most interested in how catalysts or reagents are designed to enable challenging or previously undocumented chemical transformations. I am particularly intrigued by approaches that combine data science and mechanistic studies as a foundation for reaction discovery. In my opinion, understanding how reactions work, or more importantly, why they don’t work, is key to solving the remaining grand challenges in our field.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Fluorinated organic molecules are well represented in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, polymers, and materials due to their unique physicochemical properties. My group is interested in developing new ways to access medicinally important fluoro-organic motifs by harnessing the reactivity of spring-loaded fluorinated building blocks.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I like to start my day with a morning yoga routine to get me energized and focused for the tasks ahead. After a busy workday, my ideal evening is picking up takeout from one of my favourite local restaurants and enjoying it at home with my partner, followed by playing fetch with my adorable corgi.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I would love to meet Carolyn Bertozzi, not only because of her revolutionary work in the field of glycoscience, but also because of her fearless leadership and visionary outlook. I think I speak for many when I say that Carolyn is an inspiring role model, especially for women and LGBTQ+ chemists – groups who remain underrepresented in the field of organic chemistry.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    I see great potential in bringing high throughput experimentation (HTE) techniques into academic labs. Much of the knowledge around HTE remains in industrial labs or in academic groups that have industrial ties. As these tools become more accessible and affordable, academic chemists will greatly benefit from the power of this approach for reaction discovery and optimization.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I think the one of the main difficulties for young upcoming chemists involves establishing a reputation for yourself with limited support or resources, especially considering the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. My tip is to be open about taking on new opportunities (even if the responsibilities intimidate you) and to take advantage of social networking platforms, such as Twitter, to start building your professional and personal network.

© David Leboeff

Dr. David Leboeuf Université de Strasbourg (UNISTRA)

  • 6 questions to Dr. David Leboeuf

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am mostly interested in supramolecular chemistry, which is based on the design and manipulation of chemical systems consisting of discrete molecules assembled through the formation of non-covalent bonds (e.g. hydrogen bonds, coordination bonds, electrostatic bonds), or reversible covalent reactions. These self-assemblies can be used to access original and adaptable complex architectures. In my opinion, the structural control advantages of supramolecular chemistry offer an almost infinite number of possibilities in terms of applications (biochemistry, materials science, catalysis, physics, etc.).
     
    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Simplicity is not the enemy of originality. When I design new methodologies, I try to think whether it is something that could be done by any chemist, without requiring special precautions or equipment. Sometimes, I feel that we overlook this objective, developing systems that are increasingly complex to achieve highly specific transformations, for which I am also guilty. But as Leonard de Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    At the end of the day, I usually have a beer or a glass of wine with my wife talking about our day. I like also to relax by playing with my crazy cat before starting to cook dinner.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    George Olah. For me personally, he revolutionized carbocationic chemistry. What impresses me is that he succeeded to do it without having all the analytical and computational tools that we have at our disposal now.
     
    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    I think the potential of organic chemistry in the future is still immense, but it will probably require us that we re-invent ourselves and break the barriers not only between the various fields of chemistry but also between the private and academic sector. I feel that, sometimes, organic chemistry remains partially disconnected from other fields of research, while it could be mutually beneficial. It could allow organic chemistry to reach its full potential and create more practical applications.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I consider that the most important challenge for a young academic researcher is to create his/her own scientific identity and be able to develop a research program from scratch without being influenced by the so-called fashionable topics. They should not be frightened of exploring uncharted territories to address current and future scientific challenges. While we cannot deny that both journals and funding agencies are, currently, favoring ‘hot topics,’ I am not convinced that playing it safe is the solution. Of course, it does not mean that stubbornness is the answer either, but, if you truly believe in your ideas, you cannot give in to the naysayers. Therefore, having trustworthy mentors at the beginning of your career is essential. They can help point you in the right direction and help you reach your goals.

© Private

Prof. Daniele Leonori University of Manchester

  • 6 questions to Prof. Daniele Leonori

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    My group’s research activity is mostly based on the development of novel chemical reactions. We are interested in the discovery of new activation modes that allow us to assemble chemical bonds in unprecedented manners.
     
    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    People are generally interested in the fact that we use normal house-hold light bulbs to promote our reactions. This is because of the large amount of energy stored in photons, which we receive non-stop and for free from the sun.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I enjoy cooking for my wife as well as getting sore at CrossFit.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    There are too many great chemists that I would like to meet but being Italian I would probably go for Ciamician and Minisci. They have both been incredible innovators and their impact in photochemistry and radical chemistry has been immense.
     
    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Organic chemistry is really about discovering new ways to make interesting molecules. Improving the ways we make molecules is fundamental to the discovery, manufacture and evolution of almost all products we encounter in our daily life like drugs, agrochemicals, perfumes… Organic chemistry will always be integral to our wellbeing.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Starting an academic career can be very challenging. We are under a lot of pressure to find support for our research, publish high-quality papers while also balancing our personal lives. I think it is important to remember to have fun and accept the occasional rejections as they are part of the game. One of the best advice I received was when I was unsuccessful at my first grant application. Prof Ricard Winpenny, the Head of School at Manchester, told me: “Being an academic is like running a marathon, not a 100 m sprint”. He meant I had to accept the disappointing outcome and keep move forward looking at the next challenge.

© Private

Dr. Vincent Lindsay North Carolina State University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Vincent Lindsay

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    The design and optimization of new synthetic methods involving the use of highly strained or high-energy starting materials. Particularly, approaches that lead to the rapid elaboration of molecular complexity using sustainable protocols from simple starting materials including cyclopropanone equivalents, cyclopropanols and electrophilic cyclopropanes.
     
    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    The main purpose of our work is to invent novel reactions that medicinal and natural product chemists can then easily use to expediently build complex and biologically relevant molecular scaffolds difficult to make otherwise. In the optimization process, we do our best to explore sustainable options when it comes to solvents, the use of cheap catalysts or the maximization room temperature events.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Cooking a good and simple meal and listening to music.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    R. B. Woodward as I consider him one of the most creative minds of the 20th century when it comes to synthetic advances and achievements, with an interesting personality and a strong passion for science.
     
    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    The combination of novel technological advances and the rapid evolution of organic chemistry methods will eventually allow chemists to break or create any bonds on any molecule in an automated way to rapidly produce complex structures relevant to the well-being of mankind.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    The sheer volume of organic chemistry papers being published every day can make it difficult to get good visibility for young investigators. My main advice would be to focus on research topics that are fundamentally interesting, novel and creative.

© Private

Prof. Elizabeth New University of Sydney

  • 6 questions to Prof. Elizabeth New

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am interested in chemical biology: I love seeing how we can make small organic molecules that can give us so much information about biological systems.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Fluorescent sensors allow us to understand the complex chemistry of the cell.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I have two young children, so I spend my time with them – usually in the evenings you can find us making Lego creations.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I am fascinated by the huge, paradigm-shifting, advances in atomic theory in the first decades of the 20th century, so I’d love to meet Rutherford or Bohr.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    As it already does, I think advances in organic chemistry will continue to underpin many key industries – textiles, pharmaceuticals, solar cells to name a few.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Starting out as an independent research is really exciting, but really challenging – you suddenly need to take on new roles and responsibilities that are completely different from the traditional scientific research training. My biggest tip is to build strong networks with potential mentors (and don’t stop asking them for advice and help!) and peers who are sharing the journey with you.

© Private

Dr. Elaine O'Reilly University College Dublin

  • 6 questions to Dr. Elaine O'Reilly

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    My research group are interested in the application of enzymes in organic synthesis. Nature has provided so many architecturally beautiful and complex molecules, which have inspired the development of much of the synthetic methodology that we all use. However, Nature has also supplied a wonderful selection of enzymes that are capable of building these molecules with such impressive levels of selectivity. Our group enjoys finding enzymes that can simplify synthetic routes to important chiral molecules, or perhaps mediate reactions not yet achievable using more traditional synthetic methodology. It’s a fantastic area of research to work in because the field of Biocatalysis is still relatively young and there are still so many challenges left to address.
     
    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    The field of Biocatalysis has come a long way in the past few years, and there is now an impressive ‘toolbox’ of enzymes available for a wide range of synthetic transformation. Many of the most synthetically useful biocatalysts have been adapted to tolerate organic solvents and high temperatures and can be purchased and used almost like any other chemical reagent. You don’t need to know much about enzymes to benefit from their wonderful activity and often unrivalled selectivity!
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    As a mum to two young children, there is not much time for relaxing. After a busy day comes a busy evening! I do enjoy taking my kids out for walks or to play football in the park and meeting up with family and friends. I usually make time to squeeze a nice glass of wine into my evenings.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I would love to have a glass of wine (or two!) and a chat with Rosalind Franklin. Aside from being interested to learn more about her wonderful contributions to the structure of DNA and viruses, she seems like a fascinating person and I would be very interested to hear how life was for a female scientist in the 1940s/1950s.
     
    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    The future of Organic Chemistry is very bright and the need to access (new) molecules in almost all scientific disciplines will remain ever present. Organic chemists have the ability to make huge impacts on Green and Sustainable synthetic methodology, on automated retrosynthesis and on developing increasingly efficient selective methodology, among other areas. A significant hurdle that I see is the growing focus on applied research and industrial collaboration and a move away from more fundamental organic chemistry innovation.  An additional challenge is the pressure exerted by funding bodies and universities to publish rapidly, which encourages low risk, low impact publications (yes, our group publish these, too J) and significantly disadvantages and discourages those working in certain research areas. I would love to see funding agencies support bright young researchers to engage in basic research, where new innovations and technologies can emerge to address remaining and future challenges in organic chemistry. 
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I think that the (non-scientific) challenges for young chemists in my field are the same as in any area of the chemical sciences. We are expected to publish high-impact research rapidly, win big grants, engage in high quality teaching and mentoring, participate in public engagement, and find time to enjoy family life. For me, this can mean avoiding certain avenues of research that I would love to get involved in. Do I have any tips? Not really, but my advice would be to enjoy the research that you do and try not to be too hard on yourself when everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. 

© Private

Dr. Marcio Weber Paixão Universidade Federal de São Carlos

  • 6 questions to Dr. Marcio Weber Paixão

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I'm a synthetic organic chemist with an interest in developing new methodologies involving visible-light-induced photochemical transformations for further application in drug discovery and fine chemicals production. This field provides access to compounds that are difficult to produce using other conventional synthetic approaches.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    The way in which visible-light precisely promotes the formation of new bond for the elaboration of molecular skeletons.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    After a busy day, spending time and playing with my daughters is always refreshing.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Woodward, for the impact of his research, especially on the conservation of orbital symmetry.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Organic chemistry will contribute more to society - especially because this field is essential in building a sustainable future.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    In any field, starting a career as an independent researcher is always a challenging task. Therefore, I will recommend young upcoming chemists to be resilient and practice their creativity to tackle future complex challenges with simplicity.

© Private

Dr. Niki Patel Merck

© Private

Dr. Rui Shang University of Tokyo

  • 6 questions to Dr. Rui Shang

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    Sustainable catalysis to make functional molecules such as electronic materials and pharmaceuticals. Currently, the topics I am mostly interested in are base metal catalysis (e.g. iron catalysis) and photocatalysis avoiding the use of expensive catalysts. I think sustainability is a critical issue for human society. A synthetic organic chemist can contribute to that by developing new sustainable catalytic processes to create valuable functional molecules.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    I think it would be my efforts to connect different research fields that resulted in creating my originally new research topics. I have been working on several research fields including decarboxylative couplings, iron-catalysis, C-H activation, photocatalysis, organic electronic materials, and solar cell devices. After working on these different research fields, I could finally come up with ideas to develop organic electronic materials for device applications using sustainable iron-catalysis (C-H polymerization Nat. Catal. 2021, 4, 631, and tandem annulation, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 6823), and developing new photocatalysis inspired by knowledges acquired from electronic materials and device research (Science 2019, 363, 1429; Sci. China Chem. 2021, 64, 439).

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I sometimes take a night drive with my favorite music on. It helps to give my brain a break from research.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    That chemist for me would be Prof. J. K. Kochi. His accomplishments made decades ago amazingly had many influences on my research. When I was studying decarboxylative couplings, I know there was Kochi Reaction discovered in 1960s. When I was working on iron-catalysis, I was impressed by Kochi’s proposed mechanism for iron-catalyzed cross couplings in 1970s. When I was studying photocatalysis, I was inspired by Kochi’s study on electron transfer and charge transfer mechanism in EDA complexes. He must be a great professor ahead of his time who produced highly original research.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    I see a great future of organic synthesis. I think the role of organic chemistry will be ever important if organic chemists can expand the mission from simply making molecules to actively searching new fields that organic compounds will revolutionarily contribute. The latter requires synthetic organic chemists to understand function of molecules from intra- and inter- molecule level. I expect many revolutionary contributions organic chemists can make if synthetic organic chemists can actively “create functions” through organic synthesis. Organic chemistry will have great influence and impact on many other disciplinaries of science and it will continue to make great contribution to human society.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I think the COVID-19 pandemic caused lots of difficulties for young chemists because it created hurdle against in-person communication, which is very important for young chemists to grow and to be visible in the community. I think it is important to fight against this situation. I feel in research the difficulties for young upcoming chemists are how to have broad interests but to work with a focus, and how to balance current popular trends with one’s own originality. Also, if a young researcher is with lots of ambitions, it is sometimes difficult to balance so many expectations that are faced in daily research.

© Sharma Upendra

Dr. Upendra Sharma CSIR-IHBT Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology India

  • 6 questions to Dr. Upendra Sharma

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    Our group is interested in discovering new small organic molecules with application in drug discovery. For this, we are following two approaches: First, phytochemical investigation of medicinal plants to discover natural molecules. Secondly, we work in the functionalization of heterocycles through innovative C-H activation. The end goal is to find potent bioactive molecules.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    First, every new invention takes time from lab to society. C-H activation is finding its application in industries. In the next one or two decades, all traditional synthetic methods might be replaced with this approach.

    Second, plant-based products also contain chemicals, so one should not take their safety for granted unless it is supported by proper scientific evidence.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I believe that one should maintain a balance between personal and professional life. So after my busy day in the office, I spend time with my family (conversation with my parents, cooking with my wife, and playing with my two children).

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Prof. Keith Fagnou's work in C-H activation inspired many, including me, to work in this area. His understanding and idea were tremendous and quiet ahead of time. I always desired to meet Prof. Keith Fagnou, but unfortunately, he left this world early.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Organic chemistry can solve every (current or future) major challenge regarding health, climate change, or energy.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Everyone sets high goals and plans to do great things at the initial stages of an independent career, but things are not straightforward. The major challenge is arranging funds, and one should focus on acquiring funding to convert their idea into reality. 

© Private

Dr. Andy A. Thomas Texas A&M University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Andy A. Thomas

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    Asymmetric method development - for the synthesis of bioactive molecules. I have always been fascinated by fundamental science and enjoy leveraging it to solve real world problems.     

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Small advances at the bench have big impacts on society. Organic chemistry has a bigger influence on your life than you think from cosmetics to plastics to medicine its everywhere.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    After an exhilarating day in the laboratory, I routinely decompress by riding fast motorcycles. I have always had the need for speed!
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Sir Robert Robinson – I would like to pick his brain and learn how he came up with the synthesis of tropinone in 1917! As well as modern day arrow pushing!    

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    A cure for cancer? A phone battery that lasts a week? Who knows! That’s the beauty of organic chemistry – it’s potential is only limited by our creativity... and serendipity.  
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    The volume of scientific knowledge is increasing everyday which makes it challenging to learn concepts and to find what’s relevant – know the sources in your field and use them. Creating a working knowledge base in your discipline is crucial for success.

© Alain Vaucher

Dr. Alain C. Vaucher IBM

  • 6 questions to Dr. Alain C. Vaucher

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    As someone with a background in computational chemistry and big data, I am interested in all kinds of organic chemistry! Having said that, I have always been fascinated by pericyclic reactions. Partly because they are elegant reactions that can radically change molecular structures, but also because they are one of the best examples of explaining reactivity with the theory (by looking at molecular orbitals).

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Many people are surprised that it is possible to combine the fields of chemistry and artificial intelligence. So, I usually tell them that there is much more to chemistry than doing reactions in the lab; chemistry is a very broad field!
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I go outside to get some fresh air. This can be going for a run, taking a walk while listening to an audiobook or podcast, or, my favorite, going for a swim in the lake (only in the summer, sadly).
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Antoine Lavoisier. In general, I admire early chemists. They were scientists who didn't have the tools at their disposal that we do nowadays – and still, they were able to come up with experiments to discover the laws of chemistry.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    I believe that organic chemistry will provide ways to solve many problems and challenges, some of which not even existing yet. I am particularly curious about the impact it can have in key technologies such as organic electronics or organic solar cells. In general, I am very optimistic for the future of organic chemistry, and I believe that there is much to discover in terms of new compounds and new reactions.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    As of now, only few universities offer classes on machine learning for chemists. In addition, the field is constantly evolving. This makes it hard for young chemists to get started in the field, and they must learn a lot on their own. However, I see this more as a challenge than a difficulty; one should never stop learning!

© Johannes Walker

Dr. Johannes Walker University of Göttingen

  • 6 questions to Dr. Johannes Walker

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    The synthesis of small, rigid, polycyclic ring systems. They are a potentially fantastic platform from which to design useful molecules, but methods to prepare them are few and far between and they pose a significant synthetic challenge. The innate reactivity of such strained systems is also interesting on a fundamental level.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    Organic synthesis is not a solved problem. So many times we try seemingly trivial reactions and they just don't work in our specific cases. There's lots to discover at "the top" but still plenty we don't properly understand at "the bottom".

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    One of the first things I do when I get home is pick up a guitar and sit on the sofa for a few minutes. It's a real reset and escape.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    One of the early practitioners of natural product synthesis. Woodward or Robinson, for example. Just to listen to their stories of day-to-day life in research. They had a much more limited tool-box of reactions from which to design routes and much less analytical equipment - structure analysis in a world without NMR was an art in itself! And remember – no online search tools to help find the obscure set of conditions that saves your final step!

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    I think organic chemistry is one of the most creative of the sciences. We actually undersell ourselves at times. We can (mostly!) control the behavior of not just whole molecules but individual atoms and harness this to join them together and build never before seen forms of matter. For those with no prior knowledge of the field it is always completely astonishing. The potential is unlimited.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Funding, time, pressure, resources. Even a research group with 5 or 6 people has a vastly increased ability to bring research projects to completion quickly compared to those with just one or two full-time co-workers. It all feels very daunting at the start. Remember that we're all on our own path and try and concentrate on that rather than worry about what everyone else is doing. Social media (particularly Twitter) is bad for making you think you're not doing enough or are not good enough. Reach out and talk to others - try and find nice and supportive people at your career stage, ideally at your own university. You might be surprised to find out that everyone has very similar problems and is going through the same things.

© Private

Dr. Tianli Wang Sichuan University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Tianli Wang

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    My most interested research field of organic chemistry is asymmetric synthesis. I devote myself to the research field of asymmetric synthetic chemistry since postgraduate period, due to the fact that it is particularly attractive. Definitely, developing novel and efficient asymmetric synthetic methods toward constructing structurally diverse organic molecules is essential to the discovering and developing chiral drugs that are necessary for human health. Also, I believe that asymmetric catalysis involving chirality increment process would offer insights into the origins of chirality.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    I want them to know that my research group is much interested in designing new chiral catalysts and ligands, developing new synthetically powerful methodologies, exploring reaction mechanism, constructing biologically active and synthetically significant molecules, and accordingly we hope to prepare and discover new chiral drugs for human health. Currently, a predominant research of our group is asymmetric synthesis by chiral peptide-phosphonium salt catalysis.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    I'd like running, cooking, listening to music and reading poetry after a busy day. By the way, I'm good at cooking, particularly cooking Sichuan cuisine.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    I wish I could meet and talk to Madame Curie, and she was my idol because of her courage, persistence and passion for scientific research. Encouraged by her great and brilliant experience, many young women including me devote themselves to scientific research. Actually, there are many other great chemists who are also my idols, and I look forward to meeting and discussing with them particularly who are living.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    In my opinion, organic chemistry would be more closely linked with other interdisciplinary fields like bioscience, medical science, material science and computer science. Currently, the genetic engineering and artificial intelligence et. al. are research hotpots that most scientists focus on, and I believe that organic chemistry are also playing critical role as ever.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Perhaps, looking for proper research orientations could be difficult for most young chemists, and besides funding and research platform would also be the key troubles. Thus, they need keeping persistence with passion, and also need dedicating themselves totally to the new research field.

© Nicolas Busser

Dr. Joanna Wencel-Delord Université de Strasbourg (UNISTRA)

© Megan May

Prof. Sidney M. Wilkerson-Hill University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

  • 6 questions to Dr. Sidney M. Wilkerson-Hill

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    Agrochemistry. The Haber-Bosch process is widely cited as an innovation that changed the course of humanity by allowing us to obtain a surplus of food on Earth. I am interested to see what agrochemical innovations will allow us to sustain life on other planets, especially as it relates to the synthesis of organic molecules.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    We still have a lot to learn about the synthesis of cyclopropanes. These structural motifs appear frequently in natural products, however many current methods for their synthesis are incongruent with the substitution patterns found in Nature.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Cook! Since I cannot have a personal wet lab in my garage, the kitchen fills that purpose!

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Slayton Evans Jr. I would like to get his perspective on organophosphorus chemistry today.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Given the discovery of methane and ethane on Saturn’s moon Titan, an increase in commercial space travel, and NASA’s upcoming Dragonfly mission, I believe the field of organic chemistry will have a pronounced role on the field of astrobiology in the future.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    Organic chemistry is increasingly becoming a tool that is found at the interface of many fields (e.g., materials science, chemical biology, radiochemistry, agrochemistry, computer science). I believe it is becoming more difficult for students to identify the remaining problems in these fields where organic chemistry can address a long-standing problems. Tip: Read broadly and be open-minded. Learn to interface frequently with people outside of your field.

© Private

Dr. Sarah Yunmi Lee Yonsei University

  • 6 questions to Dr. Sarah Yunmi Lee

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    Developing new catalytic platforms for highly selective reactions and elucidating reaction mechanisms. Despite the remarkable advances in the field of catalysis, there are still numerous challenges associated with reactivity and (chemo-, regio-, stereo-) selectivity. I see opportunities to contribute to the scientific community by designing new catalytic systems and studying their reactivity in organic transformations.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    My group has been developing synergistic catalytic reactions, and I always get excited when people realize how chemicals (catalysts, substrates, intermediates, etc.) in the flask work together beautifully (chemically and kinetically) to enable the target reaction even though it looks a simple equation on the piece of a paper.

    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Spending time with family or watching cute animal videos always helps me to relax after a hectic day.  
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Gilbert N. Lewis. I use the term ‘Lewis’ on a daily basis. I teach the definition and chemistry of Lewis acids and bases in organic chemistry courses, and perhaps I say, write, and use ‘Lewis’ whenever discussing our chemistry.    

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Organic chemistry has been an important subdiscipline of chemistry. In particular, I believe the field of organic synthesis would always be relevant to a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines since the way of creating known and unknown molecules by breaking and forming chemical bonds could influence all other areas of research.   
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I think that identifying significant questions that are answerable with one’s creativity and limited resources/time would be one of the major challenges for young researchers, as we are in a fast-changing and competitive field. Keeping up with the latest literature, trying to think outside the box, and of course staying confident will help!

© Private

Prof. Chun-Xiang Zhuo Xiamen University

  • 6 questions to Prof. Chun-Xiang Zhuo

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    Asymmetric catalysis. Asymmetric catalysis is arguably one of the most powerful methods to construct chiral compounds which play essential roles in both chemistry and health sciences.

    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    The 1,2-dicarbonyl compounds could be directly utilized as carbene equivalents through the molybdenum catalyzed regiospecific deoxygenation.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    Play with my son.

    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    Friedrich Wöhler. To discuss with him about the potential of organic chemistry in the future.

    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    Application of automation and artificial intelligence in organic chemistry to make organic synthesis more efficient and sustainable.

    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    To discover novel, highly efficient and recyclable chiral catalysts that could make chiral molecules in high yield and optical purity. My experience in achieving this goal is to work hard and never give up.

© Private

Prof. Qianghui Zhou Wuhan University

  • 6 questions to Prof. Qianghui Zhou

    1. Which field of organic chemistry are you interested in the most and why?

    I am interested in total synthesis of highly valued molecules (e.g. bioactive natural products and medicines) and related synthetic methodology study. As synthetic chemists, we’re proud to have the ability to rationally design and synthesize molecules with a desired molecular function.
     
    2. If there is one thing you would like people to understand of your work. What would that be?

    My current research work focuses on efficient synthesis of polysubstituted aromatics via palladium/norbornene (Pd/NBE) cooperative catalysis. The synergistic interplay of a transition metal catalyst (Pd) and a small organocatalyst (NBE) enables a multicomponent cascade process to realize the synthesis of polysubstituted aromatics in a highly efficient manner.
     
    3. What do you do to relax after a busy day?

    After a busy day, I usually go to the market to buy some delicious fruits and enjoy them with my family at dinner.
     
    4. Given the chance to meet any chemist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

    If a chance is given, I would like to meet Prof. E. J. Corey from Harvard University. I hope the talk with him will uncover his secret of being able to keep active and creative in the research career for such a long time.
     
    5. Which potential do you see in organic chemistry in the future?

    In my point of view, the potential of organic chemistry in the future comes from the interface of chemistry with biology, medicine and material sciences.
     
    6. Which difficulties are there for young upcoming chemists in your field? Do you have any tips?

    I think the difficulties and challenges for young upcoming chemists in my field are the fierce competitions they will be facing, especially in funding applications.  My advice to them are: first, find a good research platform with well-equipped facilities and a supportive academic ecosystem; second, hire a talented stuff scientist right from the start; and third, keep focused on your research and your team in the first five years or more to ensure that both of them are on the right track and of the highest quality.

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