Powner Lab

UCL

Postdoctoral researchers:

Dr Saidul Islam
Dr Jyoti Singh
Dr Daniel Whitaker

Saidul has been a Research Fellow at UCL since 2013. He received an MChem (Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry) from the University of Manchester, with short apprenticeships with David Procter, Darren Dixon, and Jonathan Clayden. He remained in Manchester for a PhD with John Sutherland FRS (now at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge), followed by a postdoctoral stay with Igor Larrosa (QMUL, London).

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCL, and my research revolves around tackling the origin of life problem by using nucleotide specific catalyst. I have conducted my doctoral study at the University of Freiburg. My PhD work involved the design and development of synthetic technologies to access phosphorus-containing compounds for the biological application efficiently and straightforwardly. I have held a dual master’s degree from the University of Delhi, India and Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan. During my master’s thesis, I work on the synthesis of novel biodegradable polymers as well as studying optoelectronic property of the polymer films.

Daniel has been a research fellow at UCL since 2017. After completing his masters project on self-assembled anion-binding copper complexes in the Nitschke group at the University of Cambridge, he worked as a visiting researcher in the Fulton group at the University of Newcastle studying thermoresponsive polymers. Daniel then moved to the Larrosa group at the University of Manchester, where he investigated the role of silver in palladium-catalysed C-H activation.

PhD Students:

picture of jasper
picture of benji
Álvaro Magalhães
Jasper Fairchild
Benji Thoma

Originally from Guimarães, Portugal, I’m a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher doing a PhD in peptide catalysed triose glycolysis. Before moving to the UK, I did an undergraduate in Medicinal Chemistry at UTAD, a masters in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at FFUP and an internship as a Medicinal Chemistry trainee at Bial. I’ve experienced 4 years of multidisciplinary research in Medicinal Chemistry, with a strong focus on Organic Chemistry.

Hi, I’m Jasper and I come from Plymouth in the sunny southwest. After studying for my undergraduate degree at the University of Nottingham, I moved to London to complete a MRes in Organic Chemistry at UCL in the Anderson group. My research involves prebiotic peptide ligations using UV light and exploring photochemistry. Outside of the lab I like to travel, go to the pub, hike in the mountains, bake lots and dabble in music.

Benji completed his undergraduate studies in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, undertaking summer research projects in the Nitschke group and the Stoltz group (Caltech). He completed his MSci at Cambridge in 2019 in the Gaunt group, investigating activity-based protein profiling warheads.

Abid Barat
Arran Collis
Andrew Cummins

I was born in Baghlan, Afghanistan, but as a child I grew up in Peshawar, Pakistan. I arrived in the UK in 2008 and went to school in north west London. I then went to the University of Reading to study for an MChem degree. My final year project was on the synthesis of photocaged neurotransmitters, supervised by Dr Christopher Smith. During my Undergraduate studies I also undertook another 8-week summer research project, metal-free aryne mediated C-H bond activation, under the supervision of Dr Christopher jones, at QMUL. For this I was awarded the “RSC Summer UGBursary 2019”. During my undergraduate studies, I was also awarded the organic practical and Edward Guggenheim prize. I am now working on prebiotic peptide ligation for my PhD in mwp group. In my free time I enjoy cooking, running, and going to the gym.

My name is Arran, and I come from a village called Angmering in West Sussex. I did a four year integrated masters in Natural Sciences at Cambridge, specialising in Chemistry. I was at Christ’s College, which was attended by Charles Darwin; here I am pictured sitting in his chair. Throughout my undergrad, I was interested in how chemical processes gave rise to living systems. This led me to focus on organic chemistry and its application to biology, and then to apply for a PhD in the Powner Lab. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, hiking, cooking, and the occasional trip to the pub.

After growing up near Dundee (Scotland), Andrew moved southwards to undertake his MChem at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2020. While at Edinburgh he undertook projects in the Lloyd-Jones, Cockroft and Thomas groups, work in the latter of which on iron-catalysed B₂pin₂ deuterogenolysis has been published. His final year MChem project on nickel-catalysed Heck reactions was performed under the supervision of Prof. Snyder at the University of Chicago. His work in the Powner group is currently focused on prebiotic cobalt catalysed reactions. In his spare time he would go to the pub or think about where he might next go on holiday, but instead he stays home and watches Netflix, reads the news obsessively, cooks, eats, and sleeps. It’s like Groundhog Day (a film Andrew hasn’t seen), but less funny.

Ben Colville

Alumni:

Postdoctoral Researchers:

Dr Christian Arturo Fernandez-Garcia
Dr Leonardo Maugeri
Dr Merina Corpinot

Present: 2014-2020

Research: Prebiotic synthesis of RNA nucleotides, lipids and amino acids.

Current position: Senior Chemist at Concept Life Sciences

Present: 2017-2020

Research: Prebiotic synthesis of cysteine peptides

Current position: Higher Medical Device Specialist at Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Present: 2019-2020

Research: Crystallisation techniques and strategies for the synthesis of key prebiotic molecules.

Current position:

Dr Shaun Stairs

Present: 2013-2016

Research: Prebiotic nucleotide synthesis

Current position: Pharmaron, Inc.

PhD Students:

Dr Rebecca Marchington
Dr Callum Foden

Graduated:

Research:

Current position:

Graduated: 2020

Research: Studies of prebiotic physical models towards understanding the emergence of biological homochirality

Current position:/p>

Graduated: 2019

Research: Thiol catalysed prebiotic peptide ligations in water

Current position: Business management consultant

Dr Pierre Canavelli
Dr Kathryn Ashe
Dr Samuel Roberts

Graduated: 2019

Research: Prebiotic peptide elongation by the chemoselective ligation of aminonitriles

Current position: Data scientist

Graduated: 2018

Research: Studies towards the prebiotic synthesis of nucleotides and amino acids

Current position: Associate editor, Nature Chemistry

Graduated: 2018

Research: The prebiotic synthesis of furanosyl-nucleosides

Current position: PDRA at the University of Cambridge with Prof. Sir Shanka Balasumbramanian

Dr Natalie Grefenstette
Dr Arif Nikmal
Dr Adam Coggins

Graduated: 2017

Research: Studies towards the prebiotic synthesis and phosphorylation of ribonucleotides

Current position: Postdoctoral fellow, Santa Fe Institute

Graduated: 2016

Research: Studies Towards a Chemical Origins of RNA: Divergent Prebiotic Synthesis of Pyrimidine and 8-oxo-Purines Ribonucleotides

Current position: Teaching GCSE and A-level chemistry

Graduated: 2016

Research: Studies toward a prebiotic protometabolism

Current position: Analyst

Masters Students:

2020-2021
2019-2020
2018-2019

Francesca Ridgeway Bishop, MSci

William Sheppard, MSci

Atthapol Tweesri, MRes Drug Discovery

Ruocen Sun, MSci

Harry Bell, MSci

Huajing Lui, MRes Chemical Science

Rang Wan, MRes Drug Discovery

2017-2018
2016-2017
2015-2016

Sophie Walpole, MSci

Aminat Amoo, MSci

Yisi (Jasmina) Lui, MRes Drug Discovery

Alex Heaton MSci

Cheng (Frank) Cen, MSci

Jawaher Al Nawah, MRes Chemical Science

Benjamin Colville, MSci (Winner of the Charles Vernon prize for Masters Best Project)

Marcos Fernandez, MSci

2014-2015
2013-2014
2012-2013

James Rushworth, MSci (Joint with Prof. Tom Sheppard).

Giuliamonica Leonardi, MRes Drug Discovery

Conrad Lim, MSci

Kevin O’Loughlin, MRes Drug Discovery

Xinglin (Lynne) Yang, MSci

Raquel Fraquel, MSci (Joint with Cancer Research Technologies; Winner of the Charles Vernon prize for Masters Best Project)

Chenye Sun, MSci

Izaak Fryer-Kanssen, MSci

Harriet Story, MSci (Joint with Cancer Research Technologies)

Summer Students:

2019
2013
2012

Min Gyu Choi (Seoul National University)

Conrad Lim (RSC-Nuffield Scholarship)

Raquel Fraquel (Nuffield Scholarship)