Donohoe Research Group

University of Oxford

Stacks Image 169
The Group      
Our Group currently consists of three postdocs, fourteen DPhil students and four Part II undergraduates. We have two group meetings a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Tuesday meeting involves a literature presentation and a problem session based on the primary literature. Examples of these can be found

Postdoctoral Researchers

Stacks Image 943

James Frost
I obtained my undergraduate degree (4 year MSci) at Imperial College London and subsequently moved to the University of Cambridge to pursue my postgraduate studies under the supervision of Professor Steven V. Ley. During this time I worked on the synthesis of complex natural products callipeltosides A, B and C as well as spongistatin 2. Following my Ph.D. I completed a Leverhulme-funded 18 month Postdoctoral placement in the group of Professor Thorsten Bach at Technische Universität München, Germany, focusing on the topic of enantioselective C–H oxyfunctionalisation using a chiral hydrogen-bonding catalyst. I joined the Donohoe group in October 2014 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on hydrogen borrowing chemistry. In my spare time I like to listen to music, watch films and avidly support my beloved Spurs!

Stacks Image 125
Harry Shirley
After graduating in 2011 from The University of Nottingham with MSci (Hons) in chemistry, I undertook PhD research with Dr. Christopher Bray at Queen Mary University of London. In 2015 I submitted my PhD thesis on the total synthesis of marine derived spiroketals. Following completion of my PhD, I became Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Professor Margaret Brimble at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. I joined Professor Tim Donohoe’s research group in 2016, where my research involves cyclobutane synthesis. Outside of work I like to travel, exercise and have some beers.
Stacks Image 148
Maria Koyioni
I obtained my BSc and PhD degree from the University of Cyprus. During my PhD I worked under the supervision of Prof. Panayiotis A. Koutentis. My work was focused on exploring the chemistry of 1,2,3-dithiazoles and specifically on the discovery of new ring transfrormations towards useful and/or rare heterocyclic systems. After my PhD I joined the Donohoe group to work on the dimerization of alkenes catalyzed by hypervalent iodine reagents. Outside the lab, I like spending time with friends, cooking and taking walks in nature.

Finishing Up

Stacks Image 948
Henrique Esteves
I obtained my BSc and MSc degrees from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where I studied organic synthesis of conductive polymers via Palladium-catalyzed coupling reactions. In October 2013 I joined the Donohoe group for a DPhil project to investigate metathesis-based routes to substituted pyridines. Outside the lab I enjoy running, cycling and trying nice English Ales properly cooled in my fridge!
Stacks Image 951
Sandra Balcells Garcia
I finished a four-year degree in Chemistry at University of Barcelona in 2012. Then I moved to the UK to undertake an Industrial Placement at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage for one year. I joined the Donohoe group in October 2013, where I am currently working on the development of the total synthesis of Inthomycin C. In my spare time I like travelling, doing some sport, meeting friends and watching FCBarcelona football matches.
Stacks Image 286
Johannes Walker  
Having done my Part II in the group, working on the total synthesis of Inthomycin C, I returned to carry out a DPhil project on the synthesis of anti-cancer compounds. Outside the lab I sing in a variety of Oxford choirs and play the guitar. On Saturdays I can either be found in various forgotten corners of the country or planted in front of Final Score following my beloved Brentford FC.
Stacks Image 1116
Simon Werrel
I studied chemistry at the University of Heidelberg and National University of Singapore and obtained my MSc in 2013. During my master’s thesis I was working towards visualizing the cellular distribution and metabolic fate of diacylglycerols under the supervision of Dr. Carsten Schultz at EMBL in Heidelberg. I joined the Donohoe group as DPhil student in October 2013 and am currently working on the selective functionalization of complex anti-cancer agents to probe structure-activity relationships. Outside of the lab I enjoy sailing, climbing, playing squash and, whenever possible, travelling.
Stacks Image 954
Ahria Roushanbakhti
I studied at the University of Southampton obtaining a BSc degree before coming here to study for an MSc. I am working on the synthesis of a subunit of the natural product pectenotoxin-4. I enjoy many things in my spare time including playing tennis, squash and also socialising with friends.

Third Year DPhil

Stacks Image 2188
Wasim Akhtar
Having completed my MChem degree from the University of York where I spent my final year on placement at Pfizer in Sandwich, I joined the Donohoe group as a DPhil student in 2014. Here, I will be investigating transition metal catalysed alkylation reactions. In my spare time I enjoy playing the guitar and various sports including football and badminton. I'm also a big movie fan and enjoy going to music and comedy gigs. I'm an avid supporter of the German giants, FC Bayern Munich - people often ask why I follow a German team when I was, in fact, born in a small town near Birmingham. Well, there's no real reason other than the fact they play good football and are exciting to watch!
Stacks Image 2162
Choon Boon Cheong
I am an A*STAR scholar from Singapore, and received my BA in Natural Sciences from University of Cambridge (a.k.a. the other side). I returned to Singapore for a year to do a research attachment, working on the synthesis of bicyclo[1.1.1]pentane derivatives. I play the french horn and the oboe, enjoy listening to music, and spending time with friends. Occasionally talks to squirrels and deers.

Second Year DPhil

Stacks Image 2205
Chris Delaforce
I'm a 2
nd Year DPhil student on the BHF CRE funded Cardiovascular Medicinal Chemistry course. I completed my undergraduate MChem in Biological Medicinal Chemistry at the University of East Anglia working on early ergot alkaloid semisynthesis with Prof Sarah O’Connor at the John Innes Centre for my final year project. I joined the Donohoe group in 2015 and am working on the design & validation of novel vascular endothelial KCa channels modulators as a target in blood pressure control. I enjoy riding motorcycles and sailing in the university club in my spare time.
Stacks Image 2208
Alexandru Grozavu
Prior to joining the Donohoe group to work on hydrogen borrowing chemistry, I have completed my undergraduate studies here, at Oxford University. I dedicate most of my time to improving my Organic Chemistry skills, but I also enjoy reading and learning a bit more Physics, Biology and Math. I think the Universe is too complex to try and understand even bits of it with just Chemistry. Apart from academic focuses, I like to spend my free time watching psychological movies and series, playing pool and table tennis or by getting involved in different social activities.
Stacks Image 2211
Melodie Richardson
I did my part II with Professor Jeremy Robertson on the synthesis of drug molecules for the treatment of ERF-related craniosynostosis, in collaboration with Professor Andrew Wilkie at the WIMM. Upon deciding to stay in Oxford for my DPhil, I became part of the first cohort on the Oxford Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT, and chose to stay with the Donohoe group after my rotations. I am now working towards the synthesis of a section of pectenotoxin-4. Outside of academia, I like to do netball and yoga in my spare time.

First Year DPhil

Stacks Image 2418

Anna Chamberlain
I completed my undergraduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Bristol, where I carried out my final year project under the supervision of Dr John Bower. The third year of my degree was spent on an industrial placement at Pfizer in Sandwich, Kent, where I worked on late stage drug development and scaleup. In 2015 I joined the Synthesis for Biology and Medicine Centre for Doctoral Training (SBM CDT) here at Oxford and, having returned to the Donohoe group after my laboratory rotations, am now working on the synthesis of cyclobutanes. In my spare time I enjoy rowing, hiking and baking.

Stacks Image 2060
Max Haughey
Last year I obtained my degree in Chemistry from the University of Oxford. During my time as an undergraduate I completed a summer placement with Professor Darren Dixon investigating the
ortho-arylation of N-benzylpiperidines via palladium catalysed C-H activation. At the end of my third year I was able to gain experience in the Process Chemistry Department at MSD Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
I first joined the Donohoe group for my Part II project in which I worked on the development of the Mukaiyama Aldol reaction before completing the asymmetric total synthesis of the natural product inthomycin C. My DPhil project focusses on the application of hypervalent iodine reagents in organic synthesis and developing novel modes of chemical reactivity.
In my spare time I enjoy playing the trumpet, cycling and meeting up with friends. And of course going to the Uni Club with the group on Fridays!
Stacks Image 2421
Tim Kwok
I obtained my BSc (Hons) in Chemistry from the National University of Singapore in July 2016. In October that same year, I received a Clarendon Scholarship to join the Donohoe group, where I now work on the total synthesis of pectenotoxin-4. Outside the lab, I am also an aspiring writer and an unabashed connoisseur of the Animes, and spend my free time on those pursuits accordingly.
Stacks Image 2424

Daniel Zhu
I am a first year DPhil at Wolfson College and obtained my undergraduate MChem degree from the University of Oxford. I focused on hypervalent iodine reagent initiated [2+2] cycloaddition during my Part II year in Donohoe group. Now I am still working on the hypervalent iodine chemistry. I enjoy playing badminton, squash and cooking in my spare time.

SBM DTC Rotation Students

Stacks Image 153
Oskar Hoff
Originally from Gmunden, Austria, I graduated from Graz University of Technology. For my Master’s thesis I visited the Ferrier Research Institute in Wellington, New Zealand, synthesizing enzyme inhibitors. For 6 months I worked at Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, doing an industrial placement in small molecule process research. In 2016 I joined the Synthesis for Biology and Medicine Centre for Doctoral Training (SBM CDT) here at Oxford. I'm doing my first lab rotation at the Donohoe group working on cyclobutanes. I my spare time I enjoy playing basketball, sailing and spending time in the mountains.
Stacks Image 212
Ben Jones
I graduated from the University of Leeds with an MChem/BSc in Medicinal Chemistry. My Master’s research project, conducted under the supervision of Dr Visuvanathar Sridharan, explored the application of 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reactions to the synthesis of anticancer agents. During my 12-month industrial placement at F. Hoffmann–La Roche in Switzerland, I worked on the discovery of novel antibiotics. My rotation project will focus on new applications of hydrogen borrowing chemistry. In my leisure time I am a keen climber and cyclist.

Part II Students

Stacks Image 957
Joe Emsley
I am a final year chemist at Wadham College. My Part II project is in collaboration with the Vaux Group, and involves the synthesis of novel linkers for tethering the fluorescent probe BODIPY to cell membrane surfaces. Outside of the lab, I enjoy skiing, cycling, rowing, and playing the bass guitar. I’m also quite the omelette connoisseur and typically judge a day’s success on the silkiness of my eggs in the morning.
Stacks Image 2214
Alex Kelly
I am a fourth year chemistry student at Keble College. For my part II project I am continuing work in the group based on the synthesis of quinolines by photochemical means. Outside of chemistry I like to spend my time helping out with local charity KEEN Oxford, and with many trips to the pub!
Ryan West
Stacks Image 2201
Benjamin Williams
I am a fourth year chemist at Wadham College and my Part II project is exploring the utility of pentamethyl ketones in synthesis. I play football both for college and the university 2
nd XI and my favourite team are the mighty Gunners. If you cant find me in the lab, there’s a good chance I’m enjoying an infamous Hulk at the best club in Oxford – the one and only Purple Turtle.


There are currently no visitors in the group.