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PhD in Enantioselective Catalysis and mechanistic studies

School of Chemistry

About the Project

Our research is currently directed towards developing catalytic methods for the promotion of a range of synthetic transformations with varying applications in enantioselective catalysis. Current projects include the use of N-heterocyclic carbenes and isothioureas as enantioselective nucleophilic or Lewis-base catalysts and physical organic mechanistic studies designed toward understanding the mechanism of both N-heterocyclic carbene and isothiourea mediated transformations. The application of these methodologies to natural product synthesis is currently under development.

Funding is available to develop a range of novel enantioselective organocatalytic methods employing chiral Lewis-bases. The synthetic strategy that we develop will be used for the enantioselective synthesis of a range of carbo- and heterocyclic products, with application in target natural product synthesis.

Students interested in undertaking a PhD in the Smith group in this research area should register their interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to Prof Andrew Smith (). For more information see the ADS group web pages at We encourage applications for the EaSI-CAT Centre for Doctoral Training ( with the application deadline likely to be in January 2021 for September 2021 entry.

Please see: for the application procedure or e-mail for more information regarding PhD opportunities at St Andrews. We encourage applications for the EaSI-CAT Centre for Doctoral Training ( and from Chinese nationals through the St Andrews CSC Scheme (

Funding Notes

Funding for worldwide, EU or UK students is available. Self-funded students are also encouraged to apply and make use of the St Andrews Hansel scheme.


Selected recent manuscripts from the ADS group:
[1].Isothiourea-Catalyzed Acylative Kinetic Resolution of Tertiary α-Hydroxy Esters, S. Qu, S.M. Smith, V. Laina-Martín, R. M. Neyyappadath, M. D. Greenhalgh and A. D. Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2020, DOI: 10.1002/anie.202004354
[2] Isothiourea-Catalyzed Atropselective Acylation of Biaryl Phenols via Sequential Desymmetrization / Kinetic Resolution, E. S. Munday, M. A. Grove, T. Feoktistova, A. C. Brueckner, D. M. Walden, C. M. Young, A. M. Z. Slawin, A. D. Campbell, P. H.-Y. Cheong and A. D. Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2020, 59, 7897-7905
[3] The Importance of 1,5-Oxygen•••Chalcogen Interactions in Enantioselective Isochalcogenourea Catalysis, C. M. Young, A. Elmi, D. J. Pascoe, R. K. Morris, C. McLaughlin, A. M. Woods, A. B. Frost, A. de la Houpliere, K. B. Ling, T. K. Smith, A. M. Z. Slawin, P. H. Willoughby, S. L. Cockroft and A. D. Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2020, 59, 3705-3710
[4] Base-free Enantioselective C(1)-Ammonium Enolate Catalysis Exploiting Aryloxides: A Synthetic and Mechanistic Study, C. McLaughlin, A. M. Z. Slawin and A. D. Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2019, 58, 15111-15119

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