DPhils (4th Year)


Omar Apolinar

Omar was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California and completed his bachelor's degree at California State University San Marcos. Before starting his doctoral studies, he partook in a summer internship at Janssen working in the Discovery Process Research group. In August 2019, he commenced his doctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute under the supervision of Prof. Keary M. Engle developing Ni-catalyzed alkene dicarbofunctionalization reactions. As part of the Skaggs-Oxford programme, he joined the Gouverneur and Aldridge groups in August 2022. Besides chemistry, he enjoys good coffee, good beer, working out, playing football, and reading books.



Joseph Ford

Joe grew up in Reading and graduated with First Class honours in Chemistry from the University of Oxford in 2019. During the summer of 2018 he worked in the lab of Prof. Tobias Ritter, Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung, on the late stage trifluoromethylation of arenes, followed by his Part II year in the Gouverneur Group, where he worked on organocatalytic nucleophilic fluorination. He joined the SBM CDT in September 2019 and completed a rotation in the Duarte group, before rejoining the Gouverneur group in July 2020. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling, going to the pub and trying to speak German.


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Claire Dooley

Claire grew up in London and completed her MChem degree at the University of Leeds. During her final year in 2020 she worked on the design and synthesis of small molecule inhibitors of TRPC5 channel as therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases under the supervision of Dr Visuvanathar Sridharan and Dr Richard Foster. During her undergraduate degree Claire also completed an industrial placement at Reckitt Benckiser working as an analyst and formulation scientist for the Strepsils brand. Claire joined the Gouverneur group in October 2020- DPhil in organic chemistry in collaboration with Astrazeneca. Claires hobbies include travelling (pre-covid), going to the pub with friends, running and cooking. 



Sebastiano Ortalli

Sebastiano completed his BSc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Queen Mary University of London in 2019. His Bachelor’s project was conducted under the supervision of Dr Lesley Howell and focused on the synthesis of positive allosteric modulators of the 5-HT2C receptor as a potential therapy for obesity. Following graduation, he joined the research group of Prof Maria Luisa Gelmi at the University of Milan, where he worked on the synthesis of small peptide derivatives designed for electrospinning along with the stereoselective synthesis of dual α-hydroxy-b-amino acid derivatives. Sebatiano joined the Gouverneur group in October 2020 to begin his DPhil in Organic Chemistry. In his free time, Sebastiano enjoys traveling, hiking and playing the guitar.


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Calum Patel

Calum is from Dudley, West Midlands and recently completed his Master’s degree in Chemistry at Imperial College London under the supervision of Prof. Anthony Barrett. After a summer research placement under the supervision of Prof. Jennifer Love at the University of British Columbia, Calum undertook a twelve-month internship at F. Hoffmann La Roche in Basel. Having experienced the synthetic challenges of late-stage fluorination in drug discovery at Roche, Calum has a keen interest in the development of novel fluorination methods. Calum joined the SBM CDT in September 2020 and completed a rotation in computational chemistry in the Duarte group, before joining the Gouverneur group in May 2021. Outside the lab you can find Calum at the gym, cooking for friends or enjoying a G&T. 



Xiaoyun Wang

Xiaoyun (Claire) completed her BSc in Chemistry at Imperial College London. She did her BSc project under the supervision of Prof. Oscar Ces on Giant Unilamellar Vesicles. In October 2019, she joined the VG group to start her DPhil in Organic Chemistry. Claire enjoys music and plays the violin. She performs, teaches and plays the violin in orchestras.



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Tom Watts

Tom completed an MSci in Chemistry (International Programme) at UCL, UK, spending his 3rd year at the University of Toronto with Prof Robert Batey on synthesis of allyic carbamates. He was awarded a EPSRC research bursary to undertake summer research with Dr Tom Sheppard (UCL). His MSci project focused on a range of noble metals and copper to directly arylate azulene and other derivatives. Tom was the runner up at the SCI Undergraduate Organic Symposium in June 2017. Tom likes to spend his time reading about/discussing international affairs and global relations with a focus on US and Middle Eastern politics. Alongside a passion for making and drinking cocktails he also enjoys playing badminton.


DPhils (3rd Year)

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Ella Ogilvy

Ella grew up in Glasgow and completed an MChem, graduating in 2021 from the University of Edinburgh. During her time in Edinburgh, she was a summer student in the group of Prof. Guy Lloyd-Jones working on the synthesis of fluorinated photo-switches. Her final year was spent at ETH Zürich under the supervision of Prof. Peter Chen working on experimental gas-phase and DFT methods to investigate Cu-catalysed C-H carboxylations using CO2. Prior to this, in 2018, she worked in the lab of Prof. Hermann Wegner at Justus-Liebig University, Giessen synthesising phthalazine derivatives for use in redox flow batteries. Ella joined the Gouverneur group in October 2021 to begin her DPhil in Organic Chemistry. When not in the lab, Ella enjoys playing in orchestras, baking, and hiking. 


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Gabija Poskaite

Gabija grew up in Vilnius, Lithuania and completed her MChem degree at the University of Southampton in 2021. During the summer of 2019 Gabija worked on synthesis of fluorinated carbohydrates under the supervision of Prof. Bruno Linclau, which led to her final year project on SRI-FESTA (selective-reverse INEPT fluorine-edited selective TOCSY acquisition) NMR utilisation for equilibrating mixtures of significant relevance in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. She joined the Gouverneur group in October 2021. Gabija’s hobbies include exploring specialty coffee, playing board games and contract bridge.


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Job Struijs

Job completed his bachelor's and master's degree at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Before starting his master thesis, Job completed a summer exchange programme working on the synthesis, chain-end modification, and characterization of well-defined poly(acrylic acid)s in the groups of Prof. Craig J. Hawker and Prof. Javier Read de Alaniz (UCSB) in collaboration with Dow Chemical. His master thesis research was competed in Prof. Emiel Hensen’s group, and concerned low-concentration and low-temperature CO2 hydrogenation on reducible oxide supports. Besides chemistry, he enjoys meeting friends, playing the saxophone, mountain biking and playing tennis or squash.


DPhils (2nd Year) 


Caleb Doyle

Caleb grew up in Liverpool and completed his MSci in Chemistry at the University of Nottingham, graduating in 2022. His final year project, under the supervision of Dr James Dowden, focused on developing a concise synthesis to a novel opioid scaffold. Caleb also completed a year-long industry placement at GW Pharmaceuticals in 2020/21, synthesising cannabinoids with potential anti-epileptic activity. He extended his placement to work in the botanical branch of GW, developing novel cannabis extraction techniques. Caleb joined the Gouverneur group in August 2022 to begin his DPhil in Organic Chemistry. In his free time, Caleb enjoys woodcarving, cooking, and repairing and restoring tools, antiques, and other curios.


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Yongyi Guo

Yongyi completed her BEng in Applied Chemistry at Shanghai University in 2020. Her bachelor’s project was about the synthesis of perfluoroalkylated heterocyclic derivatives under the supervision of Prof. Weiguo Cao. During her master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh, she took the research project on the synthesis of hexafluoroisopropanol derivatives by Ruppert-Prakash reagent under the supervision of Dr Andrés García Domínguez and Prof. Guy Lloyd-Jones. Yongyi will join the VG group to begin her DPhil in Organic Chemistry in January 2022. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, travelling, hiking and reading.


DPhils (1st Year) 

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Nicolas Charalambous

After 2 years of military service, Nicolas completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry at the university of St Andrews. There, he joined the group of Prof. Rebecca Goss, working on a novel detection method of halogenated amino acids utilising fluorescent probes. Following work as a spectroscopist for a year, he undertook a traineeship at the German Oncology Centre in his native Cyprus, where he developed a keen interest in positron emission tomography and radiopharmaceutical chemistry. He returned to St Andrews for his master's degree under Prof. David O'Hagan, focusing on the development of novel 18F-fluorinated A2A adenosine receptor agonists for PET imaging. In 2023 he joined the Gouverneur group as a DPhil student to further pursue his interest in radiolabelling. Outside the lab, Nicolas can be found at a tennis court or teaching a cooking class. 



Zian Wang

Zian grew up in China and completed his BA and MSc degrees at the University of Cambridge. During the summer of 2022, Zian worked on the photoredox synthesis of tetrahydro-naphthyridines under the supervision of Prof Matthew Gaunt. He remained in the same research group for his Master's project, working towards primary amine homologation via deaminative radical generation. Zian joined the Gouverneur group in October 2023 to begin his DPhil in Organic Chemistry. In his spare time, Zian enjoys orchestral music, travelling, and reading.




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Maddison Lovell

Maddison is from Bath, Somerset and received her MChem degree from the University of St Andrews. This included an external placement year at GSK, Stevenage, working as a synthetic chemist in the chemical modalities department. Maddison was supervised by Prof. Allan Watson for her final year masters project, working on the development of an asymmetric photocatalytic cross coupling using styrene boronic acids. After this, Maddison stayed in the Watson group for a summer placement, working on Chan-Lam couplings of benzoxaboroles. Maddison joined the SBM CDT in 2023, and completed her first rotation in the Willis group. In her spare time, Maddison enjoys going to the gym, cooking and spending time with friends.


Mikolaj Poplawski

Originally from Przemyśl, Poland, Mikołaj completed several short research internships in Warsaw during his high school years, and brought home a bronze medal from the International Chemistry Olympiad. Subsequently, Mikołaj read for his MSci in Natural Sciences at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, specialising in Chemistry. During his degree, Mikołaj completed internships in prebiotic chemistry in the Sutherland and Krishnamurthy groups at the MRC LMB (Cambridge), and Scripps Research (San Diego), respectively. In his fourth year, he performed his Part III project with Prof. Melinda Duer, investigating the mechanism of action of two natural product extracellular matrix cross-linkers. While maintaining a broad interest in organic chemistry, Mikołaj has a soft spot for mechanistically guided development of new reactivities. Outside of the lab, he enjoys learning about mediaeval music, cooking, and the sports of running and blind wine tasting.


Visiting students


Chiara Palladino

Chiara completed her MChem degree at the University of Bologna in 2020. She joined the group of Prof Walter Cabri and Prof Alessandra Tolomelli in January 2021 where she focused on the synthesis of functionalised peptides as medical devices for the treatment of chronic wounds. In January 2022, Chiara began her DPhil in Chemistry on the development of greener peptide methodologies and the study of the mechanism of palladium-catalysed reactions. She joined the Gouverneur group as a visiting PhD student in January 2024. In her spare time she likes hiking and meeting with friends.