How have you managed to keep your research group motivated during the pandemic?
As with many other professions it is indeed a challenging time for us, and in some ways more so for us as working from home is nearly impossible for experimental chemists. However, on an optimistic note, we have been able to progress by achieving small manageable goals and through keeping in touch with online meetings that allow group interactions. The focus of the group has been mainly on literature studies and planning future research. The current pandemic has taught us to find innovative strategies to carry out our research and to become more resilient.
What excites you most about your area of research and what has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
Selective distal C–H functionalisation has emerged as a fascinating aspect of chemical transformations and our earnest efforts towards contributing to this domain motivates me immensely. The most exciting achievement of my career has been in the development of strategies and templates that direct efficient functionalisation of distal sp2 and sp3 C−H bonds. By overcoming electronic and steric bias, we have been able to activate the desired distal C–H bond while undermining proximal-C−H bonds. These studies have opened up new avenues for research and have strengthened existing C-H functionalisation approaches.
What is your favourite reaction and why?
If I have to choose in my domain of research then my favourite reactions are those which can be carried out at room temperature, without external oxidants, with minimum reaction times, and that involve easily available starting materials so that the reactions can be utilised for industrial applications. If I may choose any reaction from the literature then my favourite is the "Hantzsch Pyrrole Synthesis"! This was the first step towards the synthesis of pyrrole, which is one of the most prevalent heterocycles.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
I find great inspiration from the journeys that people have undertaken. They could be a scientist, a sports personality, an artist or even someone in my neighbourhood. It is amazing to know their struggles, to know what success means to them, and to know how they have overcome the troughs and peaks of their lives. This helps me to stay focused and serves as a great source of inspiration on my worst days.
Which Chemical Science publication are you most proud of and why?
I am very proud of our Chemical Science publications, as they are all exciting works from our students. However, one of the Chemical Science publications that I am most proud of is our contribution in 2018. Selective halogenation with the use of a biomimetic nonheme iron-oxo complex was extremely challenging. Many people had tried to do this, but success could not be achieved. When people tried to do the halogenation, they would end up with only the hydroxylation product. We were able to control the selectivity through the influence of ligands so that the halide rebound energy was lower than the hydroxyl rebound energy, thus facilitating selective halogenation over the corresponding hydroxylation.
I am also very proud of our contribution in 2017, promoting internal olefination. In this, an internal olefin was employed as an allyl surrogate to accomplish the stereoselective C−H allylation of arenes.
What have you learnt since your first publication in Chemical Science?
Chemical Science has consistently raised the scientific bar in terms of the quality of the research that is published. This has made us strive harder to reach its levels, and has motivated us to develop more meaningful and innovative research in an attempt to reach the high levels of Chemical Science.
What do you feel are the most important benefits of publishing in a multidisciplinary chemistry journal, rather than publishing in a more focused organic journal?
The most obvious benefit is having a bigger and wider audience, thus promoting our contributions in the field. It also provides new opportunities to collaborate with experts across the world, and helps you to find unique and important research ideas.
What goal would you set for yourself over the next 10 years?
I would like to be a better researcher than what I am now. I hope to be able to contribute in a more meaningful way towards the improvement of humanity by providing reliable and cost-effective approaches to the challenges faced by the synthetic chemistry community, and, together with our excellent group members, alter the dynamics of synthetic chemistry in an improved fashion.
10th anniversary collection
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Chemical Science we are publishing a number of special birthday issues, to recognise and thank members of our community who have been supporting the journal and publishing in Chemical Science since we launched ten years ago.
Explore our collection now.