Véronique Gouverneur Research

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

David Ascough

David Ascough read for his MChem at Merton College, joining the group as a Part II in 2014 working on the synthesis of a novel PET tracer. He is now reading for a DPhil in Synthesis for Biology and Medicine – Centre for Doctoral Training (SBM CDT) at Wadham College, working in the field of Computational Organic Chemistry, collaborating with the Paton Group. David has also completed research projects in the groups of Paul Beer (Oxford) and Stephen Hashmi (Heidelberg). In his free time, David enjoys teaching, holding a lectureship at Merton College; photography and walking in the countryside.



Gianluca Destro

Gianluca Destro completed his Bachelor and Master degree in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Torino (Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Marco Lolli. He then embarked on an Erasmus student  exchange in Lund (Sweden) with Prof. Ulf Nilsson developing new anti-malaria compounds. Gianluca was recruited as an ESR on the ISOTOPICS (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN) project- during which time her acquired knowledge in radiochemistry and developed new methodologies for drug labelling as dynamic carbon isotope exchange. Gianluca obtained his PhD in 2019 from CEA-Saclay (Center for atomic energy, France) under the guidance of Dr. Frederic Taran, Dr. Davide Audisio and Dr. Thibault Cantat. Gianluca joined the Gouverneur Group in 2019. In his free time, he enjoys reading, cooking and working out.


Alexander Durr

My name is Alex and I am fortunate enough to be born and raised in the most beautiful region of Germany; that is obviously the South. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Heidelberg, followed by a research stay at BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany. I moved to RWTH Aachen University for my PhD studies employing a combined experimental and DFT based approach to the elucidation of mechanistic questions in Nickel and Organocatalysis. In October 2017, I joined the group of Prof Ed Anderson (University of Oxford) to work on catalyst design in asymmetric cycloisomerization reactions. In October 2018, I joined the Gouverneur group. Outside the lab, I am into weightlifting and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a grappling based Martial Art, which doesn’t make me a violent person, but the guy in the Chemistry Cafeteria always greets me really nicely when he sees me. Oh, well.

Alexandru Grozavu

Dr. Alexandru Grozavu obtained his MChem degree from the University of Oxford in 2015. During his Part II, he worked under the supervision of Prof Tom Brown on synthesizing aptamers that contained chemically modified nucleotides. In October 2015 he then joined the Donohoe group at the University of Oxford for a DPhil in Transition Metal Catalysis  and Hydrogen Transfer Mediated Methodologies. After finishing his doctoral studies in 2019, Alex joined the Gouverneur Group. In his free times, he enjoys playing video-games, and watching documentaries from outside his field of expertise to gain a better perspective on the world. Additionally, he enjoys traveling and exploring the Nature which he considers to be the ultimate source of inspiration for a scientist.    

Florian Guibbal

Dr. Florian Guibbal studied chemistry at the University of Paris-Sud in France, where he obtained his Master’s degree in 2013 under the supervision of Dr. Rodriguez at the Natural Substances Chemistry Institute (ICSN). He then obtained his PhD degree in 2017 at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) where he worked under the supervision of Dr. Olivier Meilhac on a pluridisciplinary project involving development of new 18F-labelled radiotracers for atherosclerosis PET imaging. Hereafter he joined the Gouverneur and Cornelissen Groups at the University of Oxford.




Matthew Horwitz

Dr. Matthew Horwitz obtained his B.A. in Biochemistry from Columbia University in 2013 and studied computational chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Charles Doubleday. He then moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his doctoral work in organocatalysis and total synthesis under Prof. Jeffrey Johnson. During this period, he worked in the laboratories of Prof. Takashi Ooi at Nagoya University, studying asymmetric Bronsted base catalysis, and Prof. Xiaoming Feng at Sichuan University, studying N,N'-dioxide metal-ligand complexes. After completing his doctoral work in 2017, he studied photochemistry in the laboratory of Prof. Paolo Melchiorre at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ) as a postdoctoral researcher, before moving to Oxford in 2018 to work in the Gouverneur group..


Patrick Isenegger

Dr. Patrick G. Isenegger obtained his BSc and MSc diploma in chemistry from the University of Basel. During his undergraduate studies he worked as a chemistry teacher at Bachem and lab technician in the division of radiopharmaceutical chemistry at the university hospital of Basel (Prof. Thomas Mindt). In 2012 he started his doctoral studies in the research group of Prof. Andreas Pfaltz where he investigated several organocatalyzed transformations with the aim to develop new highly selective and reactive catalysts. Furthermore he gained experiences in mechanistic investigations of complex catalytic transformations by using ESI-MS back reaction screening technology. In August 2017 he joined the Gouverneur and Davis groups.


Gabriele Pupo

Dr Gabriele Pupo completed his chemistry degree at the Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy in 2012 under the supervision of Prof. C. Prandi, working on asymmetric Nazarov cyclizations. He then moved to the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany for his doctoral studies on asymmetric Bronsted acid catalysis, under the supervision of Prof. Benjamin List. After obtaining his Ph.D. in 2017, he joined the Gouverneur Group at the University of Oxford, UK. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and travelling.






Osman Tack

Osman joined the VG group as a Part II student in 2014 and graduated from the University of Oxford with a first class degree. He continued to remain in the group as a PhD student. Osman enjoys music and plays the piano and violin. He performs solo recitals, teaches and accompanies a variety of soloists, groups, singers and dancers.

Francesco Ibba

Francesco Ibba acquired both Bachelor and Master degree from the University of Genova (Italy). He carried out a Bachelor project as an exchange student in Porto (Portugal), in the lab of Prof. Fatima Paiva-Martins. His Master thesis was completed in the BioOrganic Chemistry Group of the University of Genova, working on the development of a new isocyanide-based multicomponent reaction, supervised by Prof. Andrea Basso. He then moved to Basel (Switzerland) to work on an early-stage drug discovery project in Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR). He joined the Gouverneur group in September 2015 as Marie-Curie Early Stage Researcher and DPhil student. Francesco is part of ISOTOPICS project. 


  Anna Chiara Vicini

Anna Chiara Vicini completed her BSc, Industrial Chemistry (in the field of Asymmetric Organocatalysis under the supervision of Prof. Luca Bernardi) and MSc, Chemistry at the University of Bologna, Italy. She was an Erasmus exchange student in the laboratories of Prof. Roland J. Pieters (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) working on carbohydrates. She joined the Gouverneur group in 2016 as an ISOTOPICS DPhil student. She is the event manager for Pint of Science 2018 and Chemistry Officer in the Committee of OxHOS – Oxford Hand on Science 2018. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, drawing and cooking.   


Jeroen Sap

Jeroen Sap completed his MSci degree at Imperial College London, conducting his master thesis on nanoparticle-based dual-modal contrast agents under the supervision of Prof. Ramon Vilar. In October 2016, he joined the Gouverneur group to commence his DPhil studies. Outside the lab, Jeroen enjoys playing squash and travelling.





Zijun Chen

Zijun Chen did her MChem at Merton College before joining the VG group; investigating the reconstruction of 31P spectroscopic imaging in vivo in her Part II project. She is now a DPhil student at Merton College. She enjoys cooking, reading and playing the piano in her free time.




Konstantinos Afratis

Konstantinos Bachelors' project was in Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis (SPPS) of human insulin analogues under the supervision of Prof. K. Barlos, University of Patras, Greece. His Master thesis was completed in the chemistry group of Prof. G. Rassias, University of Patras working on the synthesis of non-peptide agonists for  the B2R receptor of Bradykinin. Konstantinos has worked for Olympic Brewery S.A. (Greece) as an assistant analyst as summer job and after completing his MSc, he joined AKFA Chemicals (Greece) as a temporary R&D and QC analyst. He joined the Gouverneur group in October 2017 as a DPhil student and is the recipient of a Merton College Chemistry Scholarship, Merton College, University of Oxford. In his spare time he loves playing basketball and cooking.

Giulia Roagna

Giulia completed her MSc Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technologies in 2014 (University of Turin, Italy). Her Industrial Placement- Red Glead Discovery under the supervision of Dr. Johan Evenas. She spent 2 years at AstraZeneca Goteborg (Innovative Medicine & Early Development graduate program in the MedChem department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic diseases, headed by Dr. Malin Lemurell),  working on the synthesis of small molecules for medicinal chemistry as well as peptide and conjugation chemistry. She also collaborated with the structure and biophysics team developing novel screening paradigms employing surface plasmon resonance and single molecule microscopy. Guilia  joined the group in October 2017 and works in collaboration with Janssen pharmaceutica. Giulia likes travelling, winter sports, hiking and cooking. www.linkedin.com/in/giuliaroagna578

Sandrine Hell

Sandrine completed her BSc between the Albert-Ludwigs University, Germany and Haute-Alsace University, France. She was awarded both her MSc and chemical engineering degrees from the Haute-Alsace University and the National Engineer school of Mulhouse (France). During the first year of her MSc degree, she collaborated with Prof Andrew Whiting, Durham University, UK, working on a project involving the synthesis of synthetic fluorescent retinoid derivatives for use in biological and imaging applications. For her MSc thesis Sandrine conducted work at the pharmaceutical company Galapagos (Paris), on the synthesis of new scaffolds and generation of libraries. She joined the group in October 2017 and works in collaboration with Janssen pharmaceutica.

Claudio Meyer

Claudio Meyer studied Chemistry at the University of Basel, where he obtained his BSc in 2016. He began his master studies in summer 2016 and then went on to join the research group of Prof. Matthias Wymann, where he completed his master's thesis working in collaboration with PIQUR Therapeutics AG on the synthesis of lipid kinase inhibitors as anti-cancer agents. He completed his MSc in summer 2017 after which he joined the Gouverneur group in October 2017 as part of the FLUDD team where he works in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutica.


Tim Mollner

Tim Mollner completed his undergraduate studies at Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He then graduated in 2017 with a Master’s degree from the Technical University of Munich. For his Master’s thesis Tim visited the Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany, working on the synthesis of novel antibacterial Cystobactamide derivatives under the supervision of Prof Mark Brönstrup. Tim joined the group in October 2017 under the joint supervision of Prof Ben Davis and Prof Véronique Gouverneur.


Tobi Arisa

Tobi completed his B.A Medicinal Chemistry degree in 2017 at Trinity College, Dublin. During the summer of his final year, Tobi carried out a research project focused on the synthesis of peptides using a novel ligation technique, supervised by Professor Eoin Scanlan. Working with the Scanlan group, Tobi was able to make considerable progress in his research project and synthesised compounds that are being used as part of a study on the role of lipoproteins of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on pathogenesis and disease. Tobi’s final year research project supervised by Professor Thorfinnur Gunnlaugsson, Trinity college Dublin was based on the Synthesis, Photophysical and Biological evaluation of 4-amino-1,8-naphthalimides based Tröger’s base as DNA targeting agents and potential anti-cancer agents. This project incorporated the use of 4-amino-1,8-naphthalimides based Tröger’s bases as probes, pH sensors and cytotoxic compounds in cells.

Jimmy Wang

Born in London, Jimmy completed his MChem degree with a year in industry at the University of Warwick. He spent his placement year at AstraZeneca, synthesising small drug molecules for the treatment of cancer. Before starting his DPhil, Jimmy returned to AstraZeneca for a summer placement where he worked on synthetic methodology projects. Jimmy was part of the SBM-CDT 2016 cohort and completed rotations in the groups of Ed Anderson and Chris Schofield. He joined Véronique Gouverneur's group in September 2017. In his spare time Jimmy enjoys relaxing outside, socialising with friends, and listening to music.


Robert Szpera

Robert graduated from the University of Southampton in 2015 with an MChem degree, having worked on the synthesis of fluorinated building blocks under the supervision of Bruno Linclau. Following graduation, Robert continued to work in Bruno’s lab for a further 5 months, preparing a series of fluorinated glucose and galactose derivatives. Robert then travelled in Asia for 8 months, before starting his PhD in 2016. In his spare time, Robert enjoys travelling, hiking, scuba diving, swimming in the sea, and going to the pub.





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Tom Watts

Tom completed an MSci in Chemistry (International Programme) at UCL, UK, spending his 3rd year at the University of Toronto with Prof Robert Batey on synthesis of allyic carbamates. He was awarded a EPSRC research bursary to undertake summer research with Dr Tom Sheppard (UCL). His MSci project focused on a range of noble metals and copper to directly arylate azulene and other derivatives. Tom was the runner up at the SCI Undergraduate Organic Symposium in June 2017. Tom likes to spend his time reading about/discussing international affairs and global relations with a focus on US and Middle Eastern politics. Alongside a passion for making and drinking cocktails he also enjoys playing badminton.


Adeline Poh

Adeline completed her MChem degree at the University of Durham, working on responsive paramagnetic rare earth complexes for magnetic resonance spectroscopy under the supervision of Prof. David Parker. Adeline was presented with the A*STAR International Pre-Graduate Award and spent the summer of 2017 in Singapore on a project involving the synthesis of a potential PET tracer for the imaging of hepatocellular carcinoma under the guidance of Dr. Edward Robins. In January 2019, Adeline joined the Davis and Gouverneur groups as a DPhil student at Wolfson College. Outside the lab, she enjoys yoga, baking and travelling. 




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Xiaoyun Wang

Xiaoyun (Claire) completed her BSc in Chemistry at Imperial College London. She did her BSc project under the supervision of Prof. Oscar Ces on Giant Unilamellar Vesicles. In October 2019, she joined the VG group to start her DPhil in Organic Chemistry. Claire enjoys music and plays the violin. She performs, teaches and plays the violin in orchestras.







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Choon Wee Kee

Dr. Choon Wee Kee received his PhD from the National University of Singapore in 2014. He worked on photo-catalysed bromination and fluorination of C-H bond under the supervision of Prof Choon-Hong Tan. He then worked as a research fellow under Prof Ming Wah Wong to work on theoretical studies of halogen bond catalysis, CO2 activation and imidazole based corrosion inhibitors. He joined the group of Prof Gouverneur in September 2016 funded by the A*star International Fellowship. His hobbies include playing the piano, violin and programming. Kee left the group in 2018 to a Scientist 1 position  in the department of Heterogeneous Catalysis at the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Singapore.



Gregor Cremosnik

Gregor completed his Master studies at the University of Zurich, Switzerland where he worked on iterative phosphorylation with Dr. Henning Jessen. In January 2014 he joined the Gouverneur group for this DPhil studies. He was awarded a Marie-Curie Fellowship under the RADIOMI Project (ESR2). Outside the lab Gregor enjoys doing a lot of sports, especially judo, and exploring the underwater world. Grogor left the group in 2018 to take a position as Postdoctoral Research Associate at Max Plank Institut for Molecular Physiology.




Callum Hall

Callum carried out his 4th Year Masters’ (Part II) in the group (September 2017 to July 2018). Methodology for Copper-mediated coupling reactions, specifically fluorination. Callum moved on to his PhD at GSK in Stevenage, UK.





Zachariah Lockhart

Zac grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland. Graduated in 2017 with an MSci Chemistry from Queen's University Belfast. For his final-year research project, Zac worked on novel foldamer chemistry with Dr. Peter C. Knipe. Zac completed a placement at AstraZeneca, Macclesfield, working as part of a process chemistry team on drug development projects. Zac enjoys most aspects of organic synthesis, but is particularly interested in asymmetric catalysis and supramolecular chemistry. Outside the lab, Zac likes to play the drums, catch up on the latest TV series, and travel. Zac moved on to work towards his DPhil in Martin Smith's group.


Tom Wilson

Thomas Wilson (Tom) completed his MChem at the University of York where he worked on iterative ring expansion as a method towards macrolactone formation with Dr Will Unsworth. DPhil student at Somerville College. In his free time, he enjoys playing the tuba in the brass band. Tom left the group in 2018 moving on to a Post doctoral position at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA.


Stephan Hyde

Stephen Hyde completed his BSc at the University of East Anglia in the field of Asymmetric Organocatalysis under the supervision of Prof. Phil Page. Stephen complete his DPhil in the Gouverneur group. Stephen moved on to take a position as Senior Scientist at Pharmaron.






Natan Straathof

Natan J. W. Straathof studied chemistry at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, where he obtained his Master’s degree in the summer of 2011, under the supervision of Prof. H. Overkleeft and Prof. G. van der Marel on the topic of bio-organic synthesis. He furthered his chemistry career at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where he obtained his PhD in the beginning of 2017, under the supervision of Prof. T. Noël and Prof. V. Hessel, with the focus on of visible light photoredox catalysis in continuous microflow reactors and the development of novel synthetic methodologies, including novel trifluoromethylation reactions and oxidation strategies. Hereafter he joined the Gouverneur Group at the University of Oxford. Natan moved on to take a  Postdoctoral position at the Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU Denmark) in the group of Dr. Andreas Jensen.



Joseph Ford

Joseph grew up in Reading and in October 2015 began reading for his MChem from Magdalen College, Oxford. During the summer of 2018 he worked in the lab of Prof Ritter, Max Planck Institute, Germany. He joined the Gouverneur Group in September 2018. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling, going to the pub and trying to speak German.

James Knox

James is from Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North-East of England. He started his MChem at Balliol College, Oxford in October 2015, and has since done a summer project in the Faulkner Group at Oxford (2017) as well as a summer placement at GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage (2018). He joined the Gouverneur Group in 2018. In his spare time, he enjoys all kinds of running (cross country, road running) and also baking.

Henry Chan

Henry completed his MChem degree at Christ Church, University of Oxford in 2018. His Part II project was done under the supervision of Prof Chris Schofield, investigating how serine beta-lactamases contribute to antibiotic resistance. Henry is now a member of New College and the SBM-CDT 2018 cohort. He will join the group in May 2019 for a rotation project in collaboration with Prof Fernanda Duarte, aiming to use computational techniques to develop efficient biomimetic fluorination catalysts. Outside the lab he enjoys reading, playing badminton and travelling.

Kathryn Leslie

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Kate completed her BSc Hons at the University of Sydney working on the synthesis and photophysical characterisation of organic fluorophores. She is interested in chemical biology and supramolecular chemistry, and designing chemical tools for investigating biological systems. She is a member of the SBM CDT 2018 cohort, and is working in the group for a rotation project in collaboration with Prof Fernanda Duarte.





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Bill is the new addition of the group. He is very sociable, naturally curious and passionate about outdoor activities. When not on duty looking after the lab, he is playing cricket on Merton ground and keen to go for long walks in the park and in the countryside. 



Max (RIP)

R.I.P. Max started his DPhil project when he was just 3 years old working on the development of new fluorinated polymers to build highly resistant frisbees. When not in the lab, you might have seen him on Merton ground testing his new materials. In his spare time, he enjoyed eating, sleeping, playing extreme football or swimming in the river. 


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