Postdoc and Graduate


PhD Students

Ashley Basson (MChem, MMU)


Ashley, originally from Westhoughton, Bolton, graduated with an MChem degree (1st Class) from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2019 and was winner of the RSC John Leach Memorial Prize. He worked under the supervision of Dr Ryan Mewis for his undergraduate projects in which he focussed on the synthesis of iridium NHC complexes for use in the hyperpolarisation technique Signal Amplification By Reversible Exchange (3rd Year Project) and synthesis of transition metal and lanthanide macrocycle complexes for use in medical imaging (MChem Project). In summer 2018, he was awarded an RSC Undergraduate Research Bursary to work in the McLaughlin group on calcium catalysed synthesis of substituted Isoindolinones. In summer 2019, he began his PhD and will focus on the development of enantioselective Alkaline Earth Metal catalysis. Outside the lab, Ashley enjoys hiking in the Lake District with friends, camping, and playing tennis for his local club.


  1. “Functionalisation of isoindolinones via a calcium catalysed Hosomi–Sakurai allylation” Basson, A. J and McLaughlin, M. G*, Chem. Commun2019, 55, 8317
  2. “Synthesis of Functionalized Isoindolinones via Calcium Catalyzed Generation and Trapping of N-Acyliminium Ions” Basson, A. J and McLaughlin, M. G*, J. Org. Chem., 2020, 85, 5615
  3. “Sustainable Access to 5‐Amino‐Oxazoles and Thiazoles via Calcium Catalyzed Elimination‐Cyclization with Isocyanides” Basson, A. J and McLaughlin, M. G*, ChemSusChem, 202114, 1696
  4. “Aza-Peterson Olefinations: Rapid Synthesis of (E)-Alkenes”  Britten, T. K,*  Basson, A. J, Roberts, Dean. D. and McLaughlin, M. G,* Synthesis, 2021, 53, 3535. Featured Article
  5. Recent advances in the catalytic generation of N-acyliminium ions and subsequent applications” Basson, A. J and McLaughlin, M. G.*, Tetrahedron, 2022, 114, 132764
  6. “Unified Approach to Diverse Fused Fragments via Catalytic Dehydrative Cyclization” Basson, A. J., Halcovitch, N. R and McLaughlin, M.G*, Chem. Eur. J. 2022

Dean Roberts (MChem, MMU)


Dean is originally from Manchester, and graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an MChem degree (1st class) in 2019. Whilst undertaking his undergraduate studies, Dean spent time working on a variety of research projects; spin transfer catalysis (Dr Ryan Mewis, Manchester Metropolitan University, 3rd Year Research Project), fluorescent polymer based sensors (Dr Marloes Peeters, Manchester Metropolitan University, RSC Analytical Trust Undergraduate Research Internship) and transition metal-macrocyclic complexes (Dr Ryan Mewis, Manchester Metropolitan University, MChem Research Project.) He joined the group for his PhD in the summer of 2019, and will work on the development of novel transition metal catalysed synthesis and applications of metalloid scaffolds. Outside of chemistry, his hobbies and interests include hiking, football and camping.


  1. “Aza-Peterson Olefinations: Rapid Synthesis of (E)-Alkenes”  Britten, T. K,*  Basson, A. J, Roberts, Dean. D. and McLaughlin, M. G, Synthesis,* 2021, 53, 3535. Featured Article
  2. “Regioselective Synthesis of Multifunctional Allylic Amines; Access to Ambiphilic Aziridine Scaffolds” Roberts, Dean. D. and McLaughlin, M. G* Org. Lett. 2021, 23, 4463
  3. ”Strategic Applications of the β-Silicon Effect” Roberts, D. R and McLaughlin, M. G*, Adv. Synth. Catal., 2022 VIP article
  4. “Diastereoselective Access to Substituted Oxetanes via Hydrosilylation-Iodocyclisation of Homopropargylic Alcohols” Roberts, D. D and McLaughlin, M. G.*, Chem. Commun. 2022

Elisabeth Leonard (MChem, MMU)


Originally from Manchester, Lizzie graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2019 with a 1st class MChem degree in pharmaceutical chemistry. During her undergraduate studies she worked on research projects under the supervision of Dr. Vittorio Caprio, which focused on synthetic studies towards the preparation of the anti-inflammatory Halofuginone (3rd year research project) and biocatalysed synthesis of enantioselective isoquinolines via transamination/ aza-Michael cascades (MChem research project). She joined the group for her PhD in October 2021 and will work on novel approaches to and application of organosilicon reagents in organic synthesis. Outside of chemistry, Lizzie enjoys reading, walking (especially with her dog) and bike riding.

Niamh Owen (BSc. Pharm. Chem., MMU, MRes. Lancaster)

ImageOriginally from Manchester, Niamh graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a First Class BSc(Hons) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 2021. While studying as an undergraduate, Niamh worked with Dr Andrew Lewis on elucidating the mechanism of action of PTC-209, a known stem cell self-renewal inhibitor as part of her dissertation. Niamh joined the group as an MRes student working on the development of sustainable cascades to produce bioactive scaffolds, and stayed with us for her PhD focussing on new modalities to treat cardiovascular disease  Outside of chemistry, her hobbies and interest include travel, rock climbing and hiking


  1. Aza-[4 + 2] cycloadditions employing catalytically derived N-acyliminium ions.” Owen, N. J and McLaughlin, M. G., Org. Biomol. Chem. 2022, DOI:10.1039/D2OB01663J [Link]

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