Nickel catalysis in natural product synthesis

Improving the efficient production of new drugs

This project focuses on the discovery and application of new methods for organic synthetic chemistry. Our emphasis is on exploiting the unique reactivity of transition metal complexes as catalysts in organic reactions. Metals such as nickel, rhodium and palladium will be the core of all catalyst design. With these new catalysts, it is anticipated to discover new and efficient pathways for C-C, C-N and C-S bond formation. Particular focus will be on the discovery domino reactions and tandem reactions which efficiently prepare complex molecular systems.

The products of these new reactions can be used as intermediates in the synthesis of natural products or for use as fine chemicals. Natural products lie at the heart of organic chemistry. Studies of these substances, present in living matter, continue to enrich organic chemistry. Through this project, targets such as anti-bacterial and anti-cancer agents will be carefully considered.

The PhD candidate will learn many of the methods used in modern organic chemistry. Additionally, training in organometallic and medicinal chemistry will be developed as the project evolves. Spectroscopic and analytic techniques will also be utilised throughout. Devising new reactions is paramount which includes laboratory techniques which involve working with air sensitive compounds.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Project goals

Devise new pathways towards natural products through the discovery of modern synthetic methods

Create new nickel catalysts and use these in organic chemistry

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Explore the medicinal chemistry and biological effects of novel secondary metabolites

Research Team Leader: Dr Scott Stewart

I am an organic chemist, with research interests in natural product synthesis and transition metal catalysis. I am in the School of Molecular Sciences at UWA. Other aspects of my research teams work include reaction methodology, medicinal chemistry, anti-liver cancer agents, anti-cancer compounds and discovering new chemical reactions.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project:

  • The candidate will require a sound training in synthetic and organic chemistry. Expertise in organometallic and medicinal chemistry would also be advantageous.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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