Professor Chris Willis
Chris completed her BSc at Queen Mary, University of London and D. Phil at the University of Sussex then moved to a PDRA position with Professor Jake MacMillan FRS at the University of Bristol. It was working within this interdisciplinary group on the role of gibberellins in plant growth and development that laid the foundation for her wide interests in natural products. Chris was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Bristol in 1990 and promoted to Professor in 2000. Work in her group focuses on the development of synthetic methodology and applications to natural product synthesis and understanding of biological processes. She was awarded the RSC Flintoff Medal in 2008 and a University of Bristol Teaching and Learning Award in 2010.
Dr Luoyi Wang
Luoyi completed his PhD in Natural Product Chemistry at Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and moved to Utah State University and Ohio State University for further postdoctoral research training. He joined the BrisSynBio in 2014 and is currently using polyketide biosynthesis to design and synthesise new biologically-active complex molecular structures. In his spare time Luoyi enjoys travelling, cooking and playing table tennis and badminton.
Dr Li-Chen Han
Li-Chen (Alex) graduated from the National Tsing-Hua University (Taiwan) with a BSc in Chemistry. He did his PhD at the University of Bristol with Prof. Chris Willis where he synthesised isotopically-labelled putative intermediates to investigate the biosynthetic pathways of natural products. Alex then worked for Dr. John Moses at the University of Nottingham on palladium-catalysed cyanation reactions. In 2015, he rejoined the Willis group and is working on the synthesis of mupirocin analogues.
Dr Trong Tuan Dao
Trong-Tuan (Dao) graduated from Hanoi University of Pharmacy in Vietnam with BSc in medicinal chemistry. He did his PhD at Chosun University (South Korea) studying on influenza A neuraminidase inhibitors from natural products supervised by Prof. Won-Keun Oh. Dao then moved to University of Copenhagen for his first postdoc, investigating plasma membrane proton pump as a target for antimicrobial agents. He joined the Willis group in April 2017 and is working on the characterisation of new bioactive compounds from underexplored fungal genomes. In his spare time Dao enjoys jogging, climbing and playing table tennis.
Paul graduated from the University of Oxford with an MChem in 2012. His final year project investigated the use of in situ click chemistry to identify novel enzyme inhibitors under the supervision of Professor Stuart Conway. After 18 months working for an immunology company based in Oxford, Paul joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT in 2014, and is now jointly supervised by Profs. Chris Willis and Matt Crump. In his spare time he umpires hockey and enjoys cooking.
Final Year Ph.D. Students
Edith Rodriguez Venegas
Edith graduated from the National Polytechnic Institute (Mexico) with a B.Eng in Pharmaceutical Engineering in 2013. Her studies included placements at the University of Rouen (France) and Sanofi Pasteur (Mexico). She is currently working on the synthesis of derivatives of the antibiotic pleuromutilin. In her spare time she enjoys swimming and playing soccer, videogames and drums.
Kuntawit graduated from Kasetsart University (Thailand) in 2014, with a BSc in Chemistry. He joined the Willis group in September 2015 and is currently working on exploring the value of γ,δ-unsaturated alcohols for the synthesis of natural products and analogues. In his leisure time, he enjoy playing computer games, traveling, and cooking.
David graduated with an MChem from the University of Sheffield in 2014. His final year project was undertaken with Dr David Williams on the synthesis of linker molecules for DNA sequencing by synthesis. David joined the Willis group via the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT, and is currently researching the structural elucidation and total synthesis of maleic anhydride natural products. David enjoys hiking, rock climbing and football.
3rd Year Ph.D. Students
Jon graduated with an MSci from the University of Bristol in 2015, undertaking his final year project within the Willis group. Jon then joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT, before returning to the Willis group in May 2016 to work on the pleuromutilin antibiotics.
Catherine graduated from UCL with an MSci in chemistry. In her final year she worked with Professor Jim Anderson on the synthesis of a luciferin analogue for bioluminescence imaging. Catherine is currently working on natural product leads to selective fungicides and herbicides. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, baking and hiking.
Abi graduated from the University of Nottingham with an MSci in Chemistry, during which time she undertook a placement year at GSK. She is currently working on developing antibiotics based on muprocin. In her spare time Abi enjoys playing the cello, going to the gym and dancing.
2nd Year Ph.D. Students
Joe graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016. In his final year, he worked in the lab of Professor Jeremy Robertson on the use of azatrimethylenemethane intermediates in synthesis and the reactivity of rhodium carbenoids tethered to furans. Joe is investigating the biomimetic total synthesis of polyketide natural products. In his spare time, Joe enjoys confusing everybody with long words.
Hannah Steeds (co-supervised by Prof. Kevin Booker-Milburn)
Hannah graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2016, undertaking her final year project under the supervision of Professor Karl J Hale. Hannah joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT in 2016, and in May 2017 started her PhD project investigating the photochemical synthesis of medium ring natural products, under the supervision of Profs. Chris Willis and Kevin Booker-Milburn.
Bethan Donnelly (co-supervised by Prof. Kevin Booker-Milburn)
Beth graduated from the University of Bristol in 2016. Her final year project was supervised by Professor Chris Willis and involved investigations into the total synthesis of the agnestadrides. Beth also joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT in 2016, and in May 2017 started her PhD project investigating the use of photochemistry for the synthesis of maleidride natural products, under the supervision of Profs. Chris Willis and Kevin Booker-Milburn.
1st Year Ph.D. Students
Angus graduated with an MSci from the University of Bristol in 2017, during which he undertook a placement year at Evotec and subsequently worked on his final year project in the Willis group. He is currently working on synthetic and biosynthetic studies of kalimantacin under joint supervision from Profs. Chris Willis and Matt Crump. In his spare time Angus enjoys playing rugby, cricket, tennis, golf, hiking, cooking and fishing.
Jawaher graduated from King Faisal University (Saudi Arabia) in 2011 with a BSc in Chemistry. After a period of teaching at the same institution, she completed an MRes in organic chemistry at University College London. In 2018, Jawaher began her PhD studies in the Willis group as part of the Abyssomycin project.
Sbu graduated from the University of Leeds with an MChem in Medicinal Chemistry. During her final year project, she worked under the supervision of Dr Richard Foster on the optimisation of small molecule inhibitors of the serotonin receptor 5-HT1B as agents to treat hypertension. After 8 months working as an unqualified teacher of science at a sixth form college, Sbu joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT in 2017. She is investigating the biosynthetic pathway to abyssomicin C and related compounds under the supervision of Profs. Chris Willis, Matt Crump and Dr Paul Race.