Introducing Holly Bonfield – SCI Scholar 2019

25 July 2019

25 Jul 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 74 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.

Holly Bonfield was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2019. Here, she tells us about herself and her research project.

‘Seeing the mechanism for a cyanide ion attacking a carbonyl to form a new carbon-carbon bond – something that had seemed impossible – during a chemistry lesson at the Trinity School, Nottingham, sparked an interest in chemistry that led me to pursue an undergraduate MChem degree at the University of York, where my passion for organic chemistry flourished.

‘My interest in the pharmaceutical industry began during a summer placement in the O’Brien group, where I synthesised compounds for a library used for fragment-based drug discovery. I therefore undertook an industrial placement at GSK, Stevenage, where I was introduced to the world of process chemistry.

‘There, I helped develop a novel, state-of-the-art photochemical reactor. I have since published my work on this system (ChemPhotoChem 2018, 2, 938;‘The Right Light – De Novo Design of a Robust Modular Photochemical Reactor for Optimum Batch and Flow Chemistry’, manuscript submitted for publication) and presented it at various conferences (UKASF 2018; Applied Catalysis and Chemical Engineering 2019; IsySyCat 2019).

‘During this placement I developed a deep appreciation for the work that is invested into every step in the synthesis of a drug. This directed me to seek a methodology-based PhD within industry as part of the University of Strathclyde/GSK industrial PhD scheme.

‘The aim of my PhD project is to synthesise chiral molecules with challenging, remote tertiary and quaternary stereogenic centres. Expansion of the scope of asymmetric syntheses will increase a chemist’s toolkit to generate more high-value molecules. My developed methodology will be designed for incorporation at any point in the drug life-cycle – from small-scale transformations in medicinal chemistry to large scale process chemistry. This will help to reduce the time it takes to bring new drugs to market and the cost of the developed medicine.

‘I am also actively involved in numerous STEM activities to help inspire the next generation, as I was by my chemistry teacher. In one particular initiative called ‘Leaders in Science’, we develop college/A-Level student’s transferrable skills that they then use to design and deliver STEM-based workshops to primary school pupils during British Science Week. This year alone we engaged with 25 college students and 100 primary school students in STEM. This has made the scheme a truly rewarding experience.

‘This SCI scholarship will provide access to networking opportunities with individuals from all scientific disciplines to increase links between academia and industry. Using these contacts, I will endeavour to set-up a Photochemical Technology Group.’

Holly Bonfield
Industrial PhD Student
University of Strathclyde/GSK

The 2019 cohort of SCI Scholars will be recognised at our AGM on Wednesday 3 July 2019.

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