Early in 2010, the SCI Fine Chemicals Group held its 21st annual 'Graduate Symposia for Novel Organic Chemistry', giving final year PhD students the opportunity to present their latest research. This year's three regional meetings were hosted by chemistry departments at Bristol, Manchester and Aberdeen Universities, under the local guidance of Prof Chris Willis, Prof David Procter and Dr Laurent Trembleau, respectively.
Students representing 23 universities were selected to compete for prizes. The quality of the talks was excellent, covering a diverse range of chemistry: from natural product and asymmetric synthesis, through to macromolecular and medicinal chemistry. The Southern meeting saw almost 100 delegates from academic and industrial labs turn out to enjoy a day of stimulating science. First prize at this meeting was won by Kevin Jones (Dr Nick Tomkinson's group, Cardiff) who presented on novel methods for metal-free dihydroxylation. The winner of the Northern meeting was Renate Gleixner (Dr Liam Cox's group, Birmingham) speaking on asymmetric organocatalytic allylation of acetals.
At the Scottish meeting, Max von Delius (Prof David Leigh's group in Edinburgh) took first prize with a fascinating talk on macromolecules, entitled 'Molecules that can walk'.
Runner up prizes went to Jennie Hickin (Institute of Cancer Research), Sanil Sreekumar (Liverpool) and Philip Woods (St. Andrews). Each year, these regional meetings provide a unique opportunity to see some of the best chemistry underway in British universities, and to meet those who both present and undertake the lab work. Thanks are due to Fine Chemicals Group members Simon Peace and Graham McDougald, who helped organise this year's events, and also to Merck/Schering Plough for generous sponsorship.
Steven Howard, National Organiser of the Fine Chemicals Group Organic Chemistry Graduate Symposia 2010