During my undergraduate degree, Magdalen supported me financially over the summer vacation to carry out a 2 month research project in the Dixon Group at Oxford. This was an amazing experience that first led to my interest in research and it was during this time that I published my first scientific paper on catalysis. During my Masters’ project with Professor Tim Donohoe (also Magdalen), I completed the total synthesis of the natural product (–)-(3R)-inthomycin C. I have been fortunate enough to have won several prizes in my undergraduate degree and graduated in the top 5% of my cohort. I really enjoyed my time in his research group, and I was delighted when I was given the opportunity to continue as a DPhil student at Magdalen.
In 2016 I began my DPhil at Magdalen, in the Donohoe group, funded by an EPSRC CASE award in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). My project aims to develop the first total synthesis of the taiwanschirin family of natural products. Through the synthesis of these compounds we hope to learn more about their biological activity in addition to providing confirmation of their chemical structure.
At the end of the third year of my DPhil I delivered a 20 minute presentation on my research and was Awarded one of 4 equal prizes at the AstraZeneca Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology Final-Year Graduate Symposium in Oxford. I was delighted to have been recognised for my hard work and presenting my research for the first time in front of a large audience was an invaluable experience.
During a 2 month industrial placement at the European research hub of GSK in Stevenage, Magdalen supported me by contributing towards my rent and allowing me to buy train tickets so I could return to Oxford on the weekends to both do some lab work that could not be done in Stevenage, and to see my friends in the College.
As a DPhil student I have been fortunate enough to teach organic chemistry to undergraduate biochemistry and chemistry students at Magdalen. It has been an immensely enjoyable experience and I’ve been very proud to give back to the college and help other students with their studies.
The flexible nature of the funding that I have received during my DPhil has been incredibly important to me as a graduate student. It has allowed me to explore areas of research (total synthesis of natural products) for which there is less funding available, and to be engaged with several collaborations both within the University and internationally. As part of an ongoing partnership with Professor David Vaux, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, I have been involved with research which we hope will lead to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease. I have also synthesised compounds for Professor Peter Proksch and Professor Horst Weber at the Institute of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf. The focus of this work was to explore the isolation of two novel isoquinoline natural products. With the compounds that I had synthesised, our colleagues were able to learn more about how these biologically significant compounds are made in nature.
So many people have made my time here special, from friends and housemates to the scouts, hall staff, porters and academic staff. The support that everyone at Magdalen has given me during my DPhil has been amazing and I am incredibly grateful to have been able to study here.
Publications from DPhil to date:
Studies Towards the Total Synthesis of Heteroclitin F and Taiwanschirin A, B, C, and D, Haughey, M. B.; Christensen, K. E.; Poole, D. L.; Donohoe, T. J., (In Press).
Modular Synthesis of Viscosity Reporting molecular Rotors, Tetrahedron Lett., Haughey, M. B.; Foley, A. C.; Emsley, J.; Poole, D. L.; Vaux, D. J.; Donohoe, T. J., (In Press).
Hexafluoroisopropanol as a Highly Versatile Organic Solvent, Colomer, I.; Chamberlain, A. E. R;* Haughey, M. B.;* Donohoe, T. J., Rev. Chem. 1, 2017, 0088. *Equal contribution.
Publications from undergraduate degree at Magdalen
Asymmetric Total Synthesis of (–)-(3R)-Inthomycin C, Balcells, S.; Haughey, M. B.; Walker, J. C. L.; Josa-Culleré, L.; Towers, C.; Donohoe, T. J., Lett., 2018, 3583-3586.
Palladium(II)-Catalysed ortho-Arylation of N-Benzylpiperidines, Tan, P. W.; Haughey, M. B.; Dixon, D. J., Commun., 2015, 4406-4409.