Professor David Procter
Winner: 2020 Charles Rees Award
University of Manchester
For the development of new methods in the synthesis and use of heterocycles in the areas of radical and organosulfur chemistry.
Celebrate Professor David Procter
In order to construct valuable molecules, Professor Procter and his team introduce and exploit new concepts in the synthesis and catalysis for the efficient construction of valuable molecules. Much of the work involves the synthesis and application of heterocycles – cyclic molecules containing atoms of at least two different elements in their rings. Crucially, heterocycles are vital components in molecules of great societal importance, conferring activity to drugs, agrochemicals, electronic materials and polymers. It is crucial, therefore, that scientists can build and manipulate heterocycles selectively.
First, Professor Procter and his team use radicals – reactive species having unpaired electrons – to convert simple heterocyclic starting materials into complex, and in some cases, previously unknown heterocyclic products. In a second area, the team studies the chemistry of unusual sulfur-containing heterocycles and invent methods for building molecules of importance in medicine, crop science and organic electronics.Read full biography
Professor Procter was born in Leyland in Lancashire, England. He obtained his BSc in Chemistry from the University of Leeds in 1992 and his PhD in 1995 working with Professor Christopher Rayner on organosulfur and selenium chemistry. He then spent two years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Professor Robert Holton at Florida State University in Tallahassee, USA, working on the synthesis of analogues of the anticancer agent Taxol.
In late 1997 he took up a Lectureship at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in February 2004. In September 2004, he moved to a Readership at the University of Manchester and was promoted to Professor in October 2008. He has served as the Head of Organic Chemistry (2011-2014) and is currently Head of the Department of Chemistry.
Professor Procter has received awards in recognition of his research achievements; for example, EPSRC Established Career Fellowship (2015-2020), 2020 Batsheva De Rothschild Fellowship (Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities), the 2014 Liebig Lectureship (German Chemical Society), the 2014 Bader Award (Royal Society of Chemistry) and a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2013).
What motivates you?
I am motivated by the intellectual challenge of designing new chemistry and enjoy the thrill of the laboratory chase that makes the proposed processes a reality.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
Building and working in a team of superb PhD students, PDRAs, visiting scientists, and collaborators is one of the best aspects of life as a researcher. Discussing chemistry, bouncing ideas off one another and working-up improved proposals are key activities in a strong team.