Kia ora. I’m an associate professor in chemistry at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington. My research area is organic synthesis with a theme of many projects being natural product-inspired drug discovery, which is complemented by development of synthetic methodology and mechanistic understanding, structure-based drug design, and synthesis of various target molecules such as pheromones and food dye derivatives. I get into the lab whenever I can, and structural assignment of our myriad unexpected reaction products through NMR spectroscopic and other characterisation methods is one of my favourite activities. I teach organic chemistry at all levels with enthusiasm and enjoyment, including graduate topics in asymmetric synthesis and macrocyclic chemistry, senior undergraduate course material on retrosynthesis and organometallics for organic synthesis, and core organic chemistry at earlier stages.
I’ve served on the NZIC Wellington Branch committee for about 15 years, including as the Branch Secretary (2009–2011), the Branch Chair (2013, 2016) and the Branch Editor (2016–2018), and I organised several Wellington events during the International Year of Chemistry in 2011.
In terms of my background, I studied chemistry and materials science at VUW, completing an Honours project with the late Professor Robin Ferrier. After short-term research assistant positions at Massey University (with Mick Sherburn) and Industrial Research Limited’s Carbohydrate Team (supervised by Keith Clinch), I undertook a PhD at the Australian National University in Canberra with Professor Martin Banwell. Subsequently, I was awarded an Anglo-Australian Post-doctoral Fellowship and a Ramsey Memorial Trust Fellowship to work at the University of York (UK) with Professor Richard Taylor. I returned to my alma mater in 2004 as a lecturer.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family (husband Adrian and two teenage children), whānau, many of whom live around Wellington, and friends. I am privileged to lead the intermediate kids’ ministry and an adult group at our church. I love to walk and bike, especially when these activities involve hills and NZ native bush (both of which are prevalent in Wellington), and being by (or on) the sea.