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4-Year PhD in Asymmetric Synthesis and Transition Metal Catalysis

   School of Chemistry

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Our research group is developing asymmetric transformations based on transition metal-catalysed methodology using organoboron reagents (e.g., refs 1-5). This 4-year project will involve methodology development and mechanistic studies, with specific applications in synthesis as part of the overall programme, which also includes placement opportunities with industrial and academic collaborators.

Our research group interests are in catalysis, mechanism, and applications of methodologies to synthetic targets in Natural Product Synthesis (refs x-x), Medicinal Chemistry (refs 10-12), and Agrochemistry (refs 6, 8). We are a medium-sized research group (group size around 12) of talented, friendly, and supportive people and we are looking for likeminded and motivated people to join us.

If you are interested in in this project, please register your interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to Prof Allan Watson ().

Please see: for the application procedure or e-mail  for more information regarding PhD opportunities at St Andrews. We encourage applications for the EaSiCAT Centre for Doctoral training ( and from Chinese nationals through the St Andrews CSC Scheme ( There are opportunities for self-funded PhD students to make use of the St Andrews Handsel Scheme to fund the difference between home and international fees.


[1] Chemoselective Boronic Ester Synthesis by Controlled Speciation. J. W. B. Fyfe, C. P. Seath, A. J. B. Watson, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 12077–12080.
[2] Tandem Chemoselective Suzuki–Miyaura Cross-coupling Enabled by Nucleophile Speciation Control. C. P. Seath, J. W. B. Fyfe, J. J. Molloy, A. J. B. Watson, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 9976–9979.
[3] Chemoselective Suzuki–Miyaura Cross-coupling via Kinetic Transmetallation. J. W. B. Fyfe, N. J. Fazakerley, A. J. B. Watson, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 1249–1253.
[4] Interrogating Pd(II) Anion Metathesis using a Bifunctional Chemical Probe: A Transmetalation Switch. J. J. Molloy, C. P. Seath, M. J. West, C. McLaughlin, N. J. Fazakerley, A. R. Kennedy, D. J. Nelson, A. J. B. Watson, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 126−130.
[5] Spectroscopic Studies of the Chan–Lam Amination: A Mechanism-inspired Solution to Boronic Ester Reactivity. J. C. Vantourout, H. N. Miras, A. Isidro-Llobet, S. Sproules, A. J. B. Watson, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 4769–4779.
[6] Scalable Total synthesis and Comprehensive Structure-Activity Relationship Studies of the Phytotoxin Coronatine. M. M. Littleson, C. M. Baker, A. J. Dalencon, E. C. Frye, C. Jamieson, A. R. Kennedy, K. B. Ling, M. M. McLachlan, M. G. Montgomery, C. J. Russell, A. J. B. Watson, Nat. Comm. 2018, 9, 1105.
[7] Synthesis of 2-BMIDA indoles via heteroannulation: Applications in drug scaffold and natural product synthesis. G. E. Bell, J. W. B. Fyfe, E. M. Israel, A. M. Z. Slawin, A. Cam A. J. B. Watson, Org. Lett., 2022, 24, 3024-3027.
[8] Total synthesis and structure–activity relationship of alternaric acid delivers an herbicide vector. E. M. Israel, J. Comas-Barceló, A. M. Z. Slawin, A. J. B. Watson, Nat. Synth., 2022, DOI: 10.1038/s44160-022-00169-3.
[9] Total Synthesis of (±)-Aspidospermidine, (±)-Aspidofractinine, (±)-Limaspermidine, and (±)-Vincadifformine via a Cascade and Common Intermediate Strategy. D. L. Cain, N. A. Anderson, D. B. Cordes, A. M. Z. Slawin, A. J. B. Watson, J. Org. Chem., 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.2c02099.
[10] The Emergence of Small Molecule Non-RGD-mimetic Inhibitors for RGD Integrins. L. M. Miller, J. Pritchard, S. J. F. Macdonald, C. Jamieson, A. J. B. Watson,* J. Med. Chem. 2017, 60, 3241–3251.
[11] Structure-activity Relationships of Small Molecule Autotaxin Inhibitors with a Discrete Binding Mode. L. M. Miller, W.-J. Keune, D. Castagna, L. Young, E. Duffy, F. Potjewyd, F. Salgado-Polo, P. Engel García, D. Semaan, J. Pritchard, A. Perrakis, S. J. F. Macdonald, C. Jamieson, A. J. B. Watson,* J. Med. Chem. 2017, 60, 722–748.
[12] The Development of Autotaxin Inhibitors: An Overview of the Patent and Primary Literature. D. Castagna, D. C. Budd, S. J. F. Macdonald, C. Jamieson, A. J. B. Watson,* J. Med. Chem. 2016, 59, 5604–5621.

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