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Introducing Fabien Talbot - SCI Scholar 2019

Fabien Talbot, SCI Scholar

25 July 2019

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 around 77 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network, and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community.

In the past ten years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Fabien Talbot was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2019. Here, he tells us about himself and his research project.

My chemistry high school classes sparked the interest in science that led me to pursue chemistry in higher education at the University of Angers, my hometown in France. In third year, I was awarded the Erasmus+ scholarship as well as the regional travel bursary ‘Envoleo’ to study at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, where I received a meritorious certificate for excellence in practical classes. I extended this experience by two placements: with Professor Tell Tuttle in computational chemistry, and with Professor William Kerr in medicinal chemistry for which I received funding. With my Bachelor’s degree with Distinction in hand, I continued with a Master’s degree in supramolecular chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, a leading University in this field with two Nobel prize awardees. I expanded my skill set with a research placement on bioinspired molecular architectures within the research team of Professor Hosseini. For my final Master’s project, I was awarded an Erasmus+ scholarship for the second time, as well as the regional travel bursary ‘Boussole’ to effectuate six months of research on sulfonium salts in nickel cross-coupling catalysis in the laboratory of Professor David Procter, at the University of Manchester, and was delighted to see my name on a publication in the world-leading journal Angwandte Chemie (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 9785–9789, highlighted in ChemCatChem Hot Topic). After having obtained my Master’s degree with Distinction, I came back to the Procter group in Manchester for a PhD funded by both the EPSRC and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Catalysis is today well-installed into industrial-scale synthesis, yet too often involves supply-risk late transition metals such as iridium. I worked for three months in the process department of AstraZeneca where I appreciated how fundamental science can meet business and address concrete societal challenges. My PhD research focuses on developing new approaches to access high value amine-containing molecules by using the abundant copper. We published in the journal ACS Catalysis an unprecedented method for synthesising quaternary α-amino acid derivatives, a motif present in many drugs (ACS Catal. 2019, 9, 1655−1661, highlighted in Synfacts).

The SCI scholarship is a wonderful opportunity to build fruitful collaboration and I am honoured to be amongst its awardees. With the RSC local district and the SCI Messel travel bursaries that I was recently awarded, it will help me to attend international events such as the upcoming 20th OMCOS symposium in Heidelberg, Germany, in which I will present my work.

Fabien Talbot
PhD Student
University of Manchester

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