Part-time job

As doing a post-doc only fills my days and not my nights, I thought I might replace sleeping, my spare time, with a part-time job. I tried the local supermarket, but it seems Germany does not partake in 24h consumerism in quite the same way as the UK, so my hopes of serving baked-beans  microwavable bratwurst at 3 am to eccentric shoppers and drunks were dashed. I had pretty much given up hope of filling those wee hours in the night with anything but sleep, before a new opportunity arose for me to share (unsolicited of course) with people some of the thoughts that pass through my brain. Fortunately for all concerned, these are no longer unfiltered ravings of someone who spends more time than they should inside, but patiently edited musings of a serious scientist.

Much to the dismay of anybody with an interest in making molecules, Paul Docherty’s five-year tenure at Chemistry World, guiding readers through the perils and ecstasy of total synthesis has prematurely ‘Gone to Completion’. Paul’s Totally Synthetic column was a delight to read, and not only helped point me in the right direction when it came to choosing a research field (synthesis), but also introduced me to the world of blogging. I really wish him all the best for the future.

Paul’s ‘retirement’ left a gap over at Chemistry World, one that couldn’t readily be filled by any single individual. Instead, a bold step was taken and three chemists were invited to write in rotation about various aspects of synthetic chemistry – the official announcement is here. The author of the brilliant B.R.S.M. has entertained us with beautifully written analyses of total synthesis over the past couple of years, and deservedly will be now taking this into print. He will also be joined by a long-standing member of the online chemistry community, the excellent ChemJobber, whom since 2008 has been helping chemists track down those elusive things know as ‘jobs’. ChemJobber will be bringing process chemistry to the table for your enjoyment. And finally, yes, my dreams of a part-time job were answered. Presumably not due to my idealistic(?) opinions about synthetic methodology, or how easy I was to work with (it turns out I found being edited a little disconcerting to begin with), I was greatly honoured with the opportunity to write alongside B.R.S.M and ChemJobber. Every three months I will be lucky enough to express my take on some of the most exciting synthetic chemistry methodology published. The first one will soon be on its way to your letter box, or, if you can’t wait, you can get a not so sneaky peek here, with a bonus online only figure. First up is a delightful piece of work from M. Christina White (which also made it into our Paper of Year seminar here in Muenster)  – I hope you enjoy it.

This is a great opportunity, and I’d like to say thanks to Phil and Phillip, the guys that made this happen. Paul Docherty’s column will surely be missed, but hopefully we can at least begin to fill the gap left behind with some exciting work. I have read the blogs of B.R.S.M. and ChemJobber for a long time, so I can at least go as far as to say you will not be disappointed by their articles.

Happy New Year


Week 12 Mega Chemist Challenge Solution

Those of you who have read this blog for a while may have seen last weeks Mega Chemist Challenge photo before. I had forgotten that I had used this specific picture when talking about ESPCA conference in Brazil last year, and worse, all of their names were given! Fortunately I wrote that piece last September before I was really writing much, so hopefully it did not give the game away too much.

The three chemists pictured (front to back) in this weeks Mega Chemist Challenge are Ei-ichi Negishi, Ada Yonath, and Richard Schrock, and have all received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since the turn of the century.

No paper this week I am afraid, just a little narrative on Negishi.

Ei-ichi Negishi was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 alongside Akira Suzuki and Richard F. Heck for their contribution to the development of palladium catalysed cross coupling chemistry. Neigishi was born in Japan and completed his undergraduate studies in Tokyo, before moving to the USA in 1960 to undertake his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. It was during his PhD that Negishi met Professor Herbert C. Brown, a man whom he greatly admired. Negishi said of his future mentor

“Brown will change the whole world of organic chemistry.

This was certainly the case. Brown was awarded the Nobel prize himself in 1979 for his development and application of boron containing compounds in organic synthesis.

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