New publication

Valentyn Pozhydaiev and Martin Power’s feature article on the role of the solvent HFIP in Brønsted and Lewis acid catalyzed reactions has been published in Chemical Communications. Most of this writing was a product of their M1 and M2 stages, respectively and was carried out while the lab was shut down due to COVID-19. Congrats!

Dr. Nicolas Zeidan joins the lab

A warm welcome to Nicolas Zeidan, who has obtained a Marie Curie fellowship from the European Commission to join our lab. The project is called NonEnzymatic and will investigate non-enzymatic metabolic reactions in prebiotic chemistry. Nicolas comes to us from Mark Lautens’ group at the University of Toronto, where he worked on Pd-catalyzed methods for heterocycle synthesis. Congrats and welcome, Nicolas!

Abhijit leaves for IICT Hyderabad

Farewell to Marie Curie postdoc Abhijit Sau, who leaves us for a tenure track position at IICT Hyderabad. Abhijit will work at home for a couple of months to write grants and finish papers before launching his new lab. Congratulations and good luck!

Farewell to the MSc Students

2020 has been a challenging year for young researchers, but our MSc students have made the most of it. Unable to work in the lab, Valentyn Pozhydaiev (M1 EUR) and Martin Power (M2 EUR) both finished top of their class for their internships and co-authored a feature article that is now under review. Daria Brykczyńska (M1, Poznań University, Poland), Eugénie (M1 CB), Louis-Albin Gravillier (M2 CB) and Joris Zimmermann (M2 CB) completed their internships despite their lab time being cut very short. Luckily, Elodie Didier (M1, University of Geneva, Switzerland) was able to reschedule her internship over the summer so that she could do some lab work. We will miss them all but look forward to their bright future!

Martin will join Prof. Dave Leigh’s lab in Manchester as a Marie Curie PhD student. Joris won an MRT fellowship to do a PhD in our lab. Congrats and good luck!

New publication

Kamila and Sreejith’s 37-page review on the feasibility and importance of non enzymatic metabolic reactions for the origin of life has appeared in Chemical Reviews. We hope it will inspire others to pursue this direction. Congrats!

New publication

Shaofei’s article on the surprising mechanism of boronic acid catalyzed reactions of alcohols and oximes has been published in Chemistry – A European Journal. Congrats!

New publication

A collaboration with Marco Cecchini’s group, this is a mixed computational and experimental attempt to rationalize why specific nitro compounds change the kinetic orders of some Brønsted acid catalyzed reactions. The model successfully predicts that sulphate esters should behave similarly. It has been published in Chemistry – A European Journal as part of the EuChemS special issue. Congrats to Marian and Ed for what ended up being the last of their many papers in the group! Also thanks to the Cecchini group for their endurance.

New publication

Our fourth experimental paper on the chemical origins of life is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. It is the result of an international collaboration with researchers in Germany and Japan. We show that three common iron-based minerals promote the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to give, almost exclusively, the intermediates and end-products of the Acetyl CoA pathway. This enzyme-free chemistry maps closely onto the biological pathway, suggesting it had geochemical origins. Congrats to Kamila and Sreejith from our group and thanks to our great collaborators! Free read-only version here. Paywall version here. Also check out the accompanying Behind the Paper post here.