Dr Michael Cowley was born and grew up in West Sussex. A bit later he did his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of York (UK). He then spent time working as an ERASMUS student at the University of Helsinki. After that, he started his PhD, in 2004, working with Dr Jason Lynam in York. He studied mechanistic and supramolecular organometallic chemistry. Postdoctoral research at York followed, working with Simon Duckett on novel hyperpolarisation techniques for NMR spectroscopy.
In 2010, Dr Cowley moved to work in the group of David Scheschkewitz, first at Imperial College, and then later at the Universität des Saarlandes, in Saarland, Germany, as a Marie Curie Fellow. He learnt a lot about silicon chemistry and his exposure to the world of main-group chemistry reminded him how much he enjoyed synthetic chemistry. He decided to make main-group chemistry the focus of his own independent research programme.
Dr Cowley was appointed Chancellor’s Fellow at the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. In 2016, he was awarded an ERC Starting Grant and, in 2019, was promoted to Senior Lecturer.
His research interest is exploratory synthetic chemistry: the development and/or discovery of new types of compounds and new types of reactions or reactivity. He prefers to start from a basic scientific question rather than aiming to provide immediate solutions to current technological problems.