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.
Emma graduated from the University of Leeds with a MChem/BSc in Chemistry during which she spent a year at Reckitt Benckiser working on analytical method development. In 2013, Emma started her PhD exploring programming of iterative polyketide domains in fungi, supervised by Profs. Russell Cox and Chris Willis. Emma runs a Brownie guide group, she also enjoys baking, sewing and weight lifting.
Claudio was awarded with an MChem with Industrial Experience from The University of Manchester in 2013. His studies included one year work placement at L’Oreal in Paris. Claudio is currently conducting his PhD research with Profs. Chris Willis and Russell Cox investigating the biosynthesis of natural products in fungi. In his spare time he enjoys learning new languages, travelling and cooking.
Nurfarhanim Abu Bakar
Hanim graduated from University of Malaya in Malaysia obtaining her BSc in chemistry in 2012. She started to work as research assistant for a year in the same university and later joined the Willis research group in September 2013 as a Masters student. She is now working on the total synthesis of the mupirocin antibiotics and studying its’ biosynthetic pathway. In her spare time she likes to travel and taking photographs.
Final Year Ph.D. Students
Dan graduated from Loughborough University in 2013 with an MChem in Chemistry. In his final year he worked under the supervision of Dr. Gareth Pritchard and also carried out an industrial placement year at GSK. He is currently working on the development of flexible strategies to nonadrides with agrochemical applications. Outside of chemistry he enjoys playing football and basketball.
Nick graduated from the University of Bath with an MChem in 2013. In his final year, he worked with Dr Simon E. Lewis on the total synthesis of (+)-Complanadine A. Outside the lab he enjoys playing cricket, tennis and guitar.
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.
3rd Year Ph.D. Students
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.
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.
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.
2nd 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.
1st 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.
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.
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.