19 Dec 2019
Maxwell Haughey was awarded a Messel Travel Bursary to attend the 21st European Symposium on Organic Chemistry (ESOC), Vienna, Austria. Here he tells us how the conference provided a useful networking opportunity and how he was able to learn about a diverse range of areas in organic chemistry.
‘I am currently a third year DPhil student at The University of Oxford in the group of Professor Timothy Donohoe. For my research project I have worked independently on the total synthesis of the taiwanschirin family of natural products. These biologically active natural products have never been synthesised before and represent highly challenging targets in the field of total synthesis due to their complex three-dimensional structure. These compounds feature several synthetically challenging motifs including a (Z)-enone, 8-membered macrocycle, three contiguous stereocentres, a pentasubstituted aromatic ring, and a pyruvate functional group. I have worked hard to develop the methods needed to assemble this family of natural products and it was important to me as a scientist to be able to share what I have achieved with the wider chemical community.
‘In July this year Vienna hosted the 21st European Symposium on Organic Chemistry (ESOC). This biennial conference has rapidly become the preeminent event for the field of organic chemistry in Europe since its inception in 1979. With the support of the Society for the Chemical Industry I was able to attend this event and present a poster detailing the research I have conducted during my DPhil through the award of a Messel Travel Bursary. This was the first poster that I have presented outside of my department, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend an international conference.
‘A broad range of areas in the field of organic synthesis were discussed in the conference including: total synthesis; methodology; medicinal chemistry; chemical biology; supramolecular chemistry; materials chemistry; physical and computational organic chemistry. I particularly enjoyed attending the conference for this reason – it was great to be exposed to so many diverse areas of organic chemistry outside of my specialism. We were able to listen to presentations from 23 invited lecturers in addition to 30 short oral presentations from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. A high number of prominent academics attended the conference and delivered lectures including: Thorsten Bach (TU München, Germany); Phil Baran (The Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, USA); Alois Fürstner (Max Planck Institute für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany); Lukas Gooβen (Ruhr Universität Bocham, Germany); Veronique Gouverneur (The University of Oxford, United Kingdom); Syuzanna Harutyunyan (The University of Groningen, The Netherlands); Kenichiro Itami (Nagoya University, Japan); Paulo Melchiorre (ICIQ Institut Català d'Investigació Química, Spain); Sir James Fraser Stoddart (Northwestern University, USA); Roderich Süβmuth (TU Berlin, Germany); John Sutherland (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom); Roey Amir (Tel Aviv University); Tatiana Besset (Université de Rouen); Jesús Campos (CSIC University of Sevilla); Denis Chusov (Russian Academy of Sciences); Anna Hirsch (Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland); Thomas Magauer (Universität Innsbruck, Austria); Jana Roithovà (Charles University in Prague); Sara Sattin (Università degli Studi di Milano); Troels R. Skrydstrup (Aarhus University); Martin D. Smith (The University of Oxford); Marcin Stepien (University of Wrocław); Martin Oestreich (Technische Universität Berlin Institut für Chemie) and Alexandros Zografos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).
‘During the poster session I was able to meet many students and industrial scientists from other institutions. This session proved invaluable as it provided an ideal platform to share ideas and to learn more about how other researchers tackle challenging problems in the field of organic synthesis. Additionally, it was a great experience to be able to speak to other students and postdoctoral researchers about their work and to look at the other 560 posters that were presented over two days at the conference. An extremely wide range of different research projects were presented, and it was a unique experience to be exposed to such a large amount of incredibly exciting research, often ahead of publication.
‘The conference provided an ideal opportunity to network with other scientists including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and academics from other institutions. I also enjoyed meeting with industrial chemists and representatives from organisations including publishing houses, chemical suppliers, and research equipment manufacturers. It was refreshing to be able to talk to such a variety of people and learn more about publishing in new journals, and current developments in commercially available reagents and equipment. This was a great opportunity to make new contacts in the chemical community, and these will likely prove extremely valuable in the next stages of my career.
‘I am extremely grateful to the Society for the Chemical Industry for providing financial support through the award of a Messel Travel Bursary to make my visit to this conference possible. I have been able to learn more about a diverse range of areas in organic chemistry and I am extremely excited for the future of this field. The conversations I had with other delegates at the poster session were very helpful and it was really rewarding to be able to talk to other scientists about my research project. It has been a unique experience to be able to meet with so many researchers from different backgrounds and I will look forward to seeing many of the new friends that I have made at other conferences in the future. ‘
The University of Oxford