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Synthetic organic chemistry PhD: Heterocycle chemistry and total synthesis using novel electrochemical and photochemical methods

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof Adrian Dobbs  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Project:

Saturated oxygen and nitrogen containing heterocycles are widespread across natural products and pharmaceutically active ingredients. Our research is currently directed towards developing novel unified strategies for the synthesis of both these classes of heterocycles, using a variety of Lewis acid promoted methods. However synthetic chemists are constantly driven to produce ‘greener’ transformations, providing products more rapidly, efficiently and in a more sustainable manner. As just such a method, electrochemical methods are undergoing a renaissance as a green method for organic synthesis, including for C-H activation. Furthermore these methods complement existing photochemical methods and both are readily adaptable to flow techniques.

The project aims to combine our expertise in the Prins cyclisation reaction (Org. Lett., 2019, 21, 350; J. Org. Chem., 2015, 80, 9868) and synthetic electrochemistry (Org. Lett., 2020, 22, 4000; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2019, 16115; ChemElectroChem., 2019, 6, 4144) to develop new environmentally friendly methods for heterocycle synthesis and particularly pyrans and piperidines.  We will also be looking at relating this to work within our group on Zincke aldehydes. The project will involve reaction optimisation and mechanistic and computational studies and will then apply the optimised methods both in flow chemistry and in the synthesis of pharmaceutically important compounds and in total synthesis.

The candidate:

The project would be suitable for anyone with a strong background in synthetic chemistry and interests in synthetic electrochemistry and photochemistry and also flow chemistry. The project will be supervised by Professor Adrian Dobbs (synthesis/medicinal chemistry) in collaboration with teams at the University of Greenwich.

Research Environment:

The successfully candidate will join a highly active research group of postdocs and PhD students in newly refurbished synthesis laboratories at the University of Surrey. The Department is extremely well equipped with analytical equipment.


The student will receive training in organic synthesis, synthetic electrochemistry and photochemistry and also in flow chemistry and 3D printing. Transferable skills, such as reporting of results orally and in writing, time management, project planning and management will be developed through university courses, Group meetings and conference attendance/presentations.

You will also be expected to take part in the Faculty and University PhD training programmes.

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