Past Members


Emma LiddleDr Emma Liddle
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.  In 2017, Emma took up a role in the public sector.


Dr Daniel O’Flynn
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. For his PhD, Dan worked on the development of flexible strategies to nonadrides with agrochemical applications. In 2017, Dan started at Sygnature Discovery as a Medicinal Chemist.

tomADr Nick Lees
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. Nick completed his PhD on synthetic and biosynthetic studies of Abyssomycin C. In 2018, Nick started as a postodoctoral researcher with Prof. Seth Herzon at Yale University.


Dr Cclaudio piclaudio Greco
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 conducted his PhD research with Profs. Chris Willis and Russell Cox investigating the biosynthesis of natural products in fungi. In November 2017, Claudio moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to work with Prof. Nancy Keller as a Research Associate.

hanimDr 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. For her PhD, Hanim worked on the total synthesis of the mupirocin antibiotics and studying its’ biosynthetic pathway. In her spare time she likes to travel and taking photographs.

_1080952Dr Lisa Recnik
Lisa previously attended the University of Technology in Vienna, Austria and graduated in 2011 with an MSc in Technical Chemistry. During this time, she spent a year studying at CPE Lyon, France as an Erasmus student. In 2012, she joined the Chemical Synthesis CDT, moving into the Willis group in 2013. Lisa worked on the development of novel inhibitors of the kainate receptor. In February 2017, Lisa started a postdoctoral position at the University of Montpellier.

_1080327Dr Freya Bull
Freya attended the Queen’s University of Belfast and graduated in 2012 with an MSci in chemistry. Freya then joined the Willis research group, working on the total synthesis of the Kalimantacin antibiotics. In September 2016, Freya joined Sygnature Discovery as a Senior Scientist.


20131202_085826Dr Tom Hornsby
Tom attended the University of Bristol and graduated in 2011 with an MSci in Chemistry. Tom then  joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT, conducting his PhD research with Profs. Chris Willis, Tom Simpson, Russell Cox and Dr. Paul Race on the structure elucidation and total synthesis of fungal polyketides. In May 2015,he moved to University College London for post-doctoral study with Prof. Dave Selwood.


Dr Tom Ackrill
Tom previously studied at University College London and was awarded an MSci in Natural Sciences. Tom conducted his PhD research with Prof. Chris Willis and Dr. Paul Race, on a project involving the synthesis of putative biosynthetic intermediates for the elucidation of the Bacillaene biosynthetic pathway. In September 2015, he joined the group of Adam Nelson at the University of Leeds, as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant.

Dr CheP1060902ngsen Cui
Chengsen Cui graduated from Northwest A&F University in China. He optained his B.Eng in Chemical Engineering in 2011. In the final year of his undergraduate he worked on the preparation of biodiesel from vegetable oils. His PhD project involved work towards the total synthesis of Kalimantacin A. His hobbies are basketball, cycling, skating, reading and tree spotting.

Dr Ia070712ni_f052in Thistlethwaite
Iain previously studied at the University of Glasgow and was awarded an MChem with Medicinal Chemistry. His studies included a year work placement at Pfizer. He then joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT in 2010. His PhD project involved the structure elucidation and total synthesis of the Kalimantacin antibiotics. Iain now works at Learning Science developing innovative eLearning resources and Dynamic Laboratory Manuals for schools and Universities.

DSCF7458Dr Ryan Beattie
Ryan was awarded an MChem in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Manchester. He then joined the Bristol Chemical Synthesis CDT in 2010 and during his PhD worked on the development of novel Prins cyclisations towards natural product targets and their analogues. His interests include running, cycling, painting and climbing. Ryan is in fact the strongest man in the world.


Dr Simon Carobene
Simon undertook his undergraduate studies at Cardiff University, during which he spent a year working for AstraZeneca. In 2009 he joined the Chemical Synthesis CDT at the University of Bristol. His current work is in collaboration with Syngenta and involves the total synthesis of the thiomarinols and putative biosynthetic intermediates. Simon enjoys studying Mandarin Chinese and going climbing. Simon is now working as a trainee patent attorney.


Dr Matthew Hesse
Matt studied his undergraduate master’s degree at the University of Bristol, and spent a year studying at the University of California, San Diego and working in the labs of Prof. K.C. Nicolaou at the Scripps research institute. His PhD project was on the isolation and synthesis of fungal metabolites using lithiation-borylation methodology, under the supervision of Profs. Chris Willis and Varinder Aggarwal. He has now gone on to postdoctoral studies with Sarah Reisman at CalTech in Los Angeles.

Tshepo baby1Dr Tshepo Pheko
Tshepo graduated with Bachelor of Education (Chemistry) 2004 and a Master of Science (Organic Chemistry) 2007 at the University of Botswana. She completed her PhD in the group on the development of a novel Prins cyclisation and the synthesis of (–)-blepharocalyxin D, and now lectures in Chemistry at the Botswana International University of Science & Technology.


Dr Benjamin Cons
Ben graduated from the University of Bristol in 2010 with an MSci in chemistry. As part of his undergraduate studies he spent a year working for GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage. For his PhD project, Ben worked on the development of a novel Prins cyclisation and the total synthesis of (–)-blepharocalyxin D. Ben is now a medicinal chemist at Astex Pharmaceuticals.


Dr Adam Bunt
Adam was awarded his MSci from the University of Bristol in 2008 and completed his PhD in 2012. During his PhD Adam worked on the development of efficient strategies for the stereoselective synthesis of bicyclic oxygen heterocycles. Adam will be starting his career at RedX in Liverpool working as a medicinal chemist in the area of anti-infectives. He is a proud Cornishman and his interests include golf, Arsenal and single malt whisky.

1-JKDr Jonathan Killen
Jonathan studied his undergraduate master’s degree at the University of Oxford, before moving to Bristol in 2006 for a PhD with Prof. Varinder Aggarwal. He worked in the Willis group for two years as a postdoctoral research assistant, working on a variety of projects from the total synthesis of novel decanolides through to the preparation of isotopically-labeled and spin-labeled compounds as probes for biological systems. Jonathan now lives in Hertfordshire where he works as a medicinal chemist for Argenta Discovery.

1-4574_618963217522_7646955_nDr Chris Bailey
Chris graduated from the University of Bristol with an MSci in chemistry in 2002 and went on to complete a PhD under the supervision of Professor Kevin Booker-Milburn. Chris then went on to do a 2 year post-doc in the lab of Professor Chris Willis working for SARTRE (Severnside Alliance for Translational Research). During his post-doc Chris synthesised a wide range of small organic molecules used for research into novel pain therapeutics. Chris currently works as a radiochemist for Selcia Ltd based in Ongar, Essex; A custom radiochemical synthesis company working mainly for the pharmaceutical, biotech and agrochemical industries.  Chris is involved in the design, development and synthesis of [14C] (and sometimes [3H] tritium) labelled compounds for Selcia’s customers.

jen Dr Jennifer Hemmings
Jennifer graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2007 with an MSci in Chemistry. She completed her PhD at the University of Bristol in the Willis group in 2011 (joint PhD with Prof Matthew Crump). During her PhD she worked on the preparation and design of small molecule agonists for the TrkA receptor, towards a novel therapeutic to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Following her PhD in Bristol she moved to the University of Bern in Switzerland and is currently working as a Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow on the TransCure International Fellowship Program at Bern.

P1060852Dr Shushan Gao
Shushan studied a Ph.D at the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His major was marine pharmacy. During his postdoctoral work he worked on novel hybrid anti-MRSA antibiotics from the manipulation of the mupirocin and thiomarinol biosynthetic pathways along with various other projects in the group. Shushan enjoys table tennis and mastering his kung fu skills.