Dr Andrew Wilson
Winner: 2020 Dalton Emerging Researcher Award
University of Bath
For the development of uniquely nucleophilic hydrido- and organocalcium reagents.
Celebrate Dr Andrew Wilson
An unexpected discovery could disprove a ‘rule’ in chemistry that opposites attract, opening the door to much more environmentally friendly product creation. Dr Andrew Wilson of the University of Bath discovered that heavy Grignard reagents react to benzene, flaunting the notion that like-repels-like. His discovery means unsustainable transition metals, such as copper, could be replaced by much more abundantly available alkaline earth alternatives, such as magnesium, calcium or strontium.Read full biography
Dr Wilson was born in Bristol and studied chemistry at the University of Bath. His personal and academic tutor in inorganic chemistry, Professor Michael Hill, inspired him to pursue a doctorate in the main group of elements. Dr Wilson was awarded a DTA studentship to investigate the “redox activity of main group compounds”. His doctoral research concentrated on the advancement of organocalcium chemistry through the isolation of prototypical species and the investigation of their unexplored reactivity. This ambitious research serendipitously culminated in the infeasible nucleophilic alkylation of benzene, a milestone in the chemical landscape.
In 2015, Dr Wilson collaborated with Professor Roland Fischer (TU Graz) on smart inorganic polymers by virtue of short-term scientific mission funded by the COST network.
Dr Wilson’s research as a postdoc in the Hill group has diversified within the discipline of main group chemistry to encompass elements beyond calcium. Nevertheless, the synthesis of incredible complexes that mediate remarkable reactions has remained his fundamental aim.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
In all honesty, I can’t recall the origin of my intrigue with chemistry, but its artistry is enthralling.
Who or what has inspired you?
The prodigious characters I’ve encountered in chemistry and life have been inspirational.
What motivates you?
I know it’s a cliché but I’m motivated by an innate desire to be the best I can be.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Overcoming the inertia associated with writing my thesis was a significant obstacle.
What has been a highlight for you?
The relief at the completion of my thesis was palpable.
What is something you are looking forward to?
I’m excited to find permanent employment, whether it’s in academia or industry.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
Pursue a career that is mentally, physically and financially satisfying.
What is an exciting scientific development on the horizon?
I don’t understand the intricacies, but I’m enamoured with fusion power.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
In these tumultuous times, unity is paramount to the progression of science and society.
Why do you think international collaboration is important in science?
Scientific challenges are often borderless, as are their solutions.
Why do you think interdisciplinary research and collaboration is important in science?
A novel outlook on any problem can facilitate its subtle resolution.
What is your favourite element?
I don’t have a favourite element but I’m fond of calcium.