Melen Research Group      
Advancing Main Group Chemistry
HomeBiographyResearchPublicationsResearch GroupTeachingGallery

Ayan Dasgupta  (PDF: 2018-)
Ayan obtained his PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India with national scholarship under the supervision of Prof. Dr. S. Sankararaman. He then did his first postdoc with Prof. Dr. Tanja Gulder at Technical University of Munich, Germany, where he worked on the stereoselective synthesis of heterocyclic compounds using Lewis acid and hypervalent iodine as catalyst. At present, he is working with the Melen research group as a PDRA looking into the development and application of Frustrated Radical Pairs.
Recent publication: Radical reactivity of frustrated Lewis pairs with diaryl esters, CRPS, 2020




Jamie Carden (PhD: 2017-)
Jamie studied for his Master’s degree at Cardiff University (2012-2016), where he achieved 1st class honours. As part of his undergraduate studies, he undertook an Erasmus year at the University of Oulu, Finland, where he investigated oxidative additions of ditellurides to platinum whilst under the supervision of Professor Risto Laitinen. His Master’s thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Newman, focused on the synthesis of novel expanded ring N-heterocyclic carbenes and their corresponding trimetallic complexes. Jamie then undertook a Master of Research in Catalysis (2016-2017), as part of the CDT in Catalysis doctoral training programme between the University of Bath, the University of Bristol, and Cardiff University. This year included research projects with Professor Duncan Wass at the University of Bristol, and Regius Professor Graham Hutchings in the Cardiff Catalysis Institute. Jamie is now a PhD student in the Melen group, investigating the catalytic properties of Frustrated Lewis Pairs via the use of enabling technologies joint with Duncan Browne (Cardiff) and Duncan Wass (Bristol).
Recent publication: Halogenated triarylboranes: synthesis, properties and applications in catalysis, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2020


Lukas Gierlichs (PhD: 2018-) 
Lukas joined the group in 2018 on an industry project joint with TOK and Duncan Browne (Cardiff). Lukas did his MChem degree (1st class honours) at Cardiff with his research project focusing on microwave assisted borane catalysis with Duncan Browne. During his undergraduate degree Lukas spent a year in Canada with Prof. Brad Easton (ONTechU) investigating fuel cell catalyst durabilty. He is now looking at making water sensitive main group compounds for TOK Japan with applications in solid state material development. He is also generating computational models of the solid state materials using VASP in collaboration with Dr Alberto Roldan-Martinez (Cardiff).
Recent publication: Unlocking the catalytic potential of tris(3,4,5-trifluorophenyl)borane with microwave irradiation, Chem. Comm., 2019



Theodore Gazis (PhD: 2018-)
Theo completed his MChem at Heriot-Watt university. He undertook his master project under the supervision of Dr. Magnus Bebbington on tandem furan cycloaddition-sigmatropic rearrangement reactions. Subsequently he joined the catalysis CDT where he did research projects with Dr Antoine Buchard and Dr Rebecca Melen. He is investigating ambiphilic catalysts for hydrogenation and carbon dioxide utilisation jointly with Prof. Thomas Wirth and Prof. Michael Hill. He is currently undertaking a visiting placement in the group of Prof. Dr Matthias Wagner at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany.
Recent publication: 1,3-Carboboration of iodonium ylides, Chem. Comm., 2020



Katarina Stefkova (PhD: 2019-)
Kate obtained her Master's in Chemistry and Pharmacology at University of Birmingham with 1st class honours. In her 3rd year she completed a literature project about new therapeutics for the treatment of tuberculosis, which was under supervision of Dr. Liam Cox. In her last year, her Master project was under the supervision of Dr. Paul Davies and she explored a synthesis of novel N-heterocyclic carbenes for application in metal catalysis. Now as a PhD student in Dr. Melen's group she is investigating the catalytic potentials of bulky main group Lewis acids, as well as the radical chemistry of Frustrated Radical Pairs.
Recent publication: Radical reactivity of frustrated Lewis pairs with diaryl esters, CRPS, 2020



Mashael Alharbi (PhD: 2019-)
Mashael is investigating novel triarylborane species as Lewis acid​ catalysts. Characterisation and quantification of properties such as Acceptor Number will give insight into the ability of these catalysts to affect a system. A library of such compounds will map out a reactivity space for triarylborane molecules that will be able to tailor reaction outcomes.



Yara van Ingen (PhD: 2020-)
​Yara joined the group in 2020 on an industry project joint with TOK (Japan) and Dr Alberto Roldan Martinez (Cardiff). Yara did her MRes in Catalysis degree at Imperial College London where she worked on paramagnetic Fe complexes for N2 fixation under joint supervision of Dr Andrew Ashley and Dr Maxie Roessler, achieving a distinction and a prize for outstanding performance. She completed her BSc (Cum Laude) at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, completing a project investigating Ti polymerisation catalysts with Dr Burgert Blom and Dr Dario Romano. She is now investigating metal-containing compounds used in the application of semiconductor fabrication for TOK Japan.



Matthew Heard (PhD: 2020-)
Matt obtained his MChem degree with 1st Class Honours from the University of York. He undertook his Masters project in Canada under the supervision of Dr Fred Menard (University of British Columbia), working on the synthesis of Kainate receptor molecular probes and towards a synthesis of rotundial. Now as a PhD student in Dr Melen's group he is investigating the use of Frustrated Lewis Pairs as metal-free catalysts for organic synthesis.



Tanja Kaehler (PhD: 2020)
Tanja is a visiting PhD student from Goethe University Frankfurt​, Germany where she completed her M.Sc. in chemistry in 2015. She is currently writing her thesis which she did under the supervision of Prof. Dr Matthias Wagner. Her research mainly focuses on boron/nitrogen containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In the Melen group she will be investigating fluorinated triaryl aluminium complexes. 
Recent publication: Introducing Perylene as a New Member of the Azaborine Family, ACIE, 2019




Samuel Watts (MChem: 2020)


Luke Strange (MChem: 2020)




Indium Melen (Mascot: 2014-)
Indium is a 13-year-old Norwegian Fjord horse. Following training at Radway Riding School in Warwickshire, she moved to Cardiff in 2014 to further her education. Her interests lie in anything food-related (hay, carrots, mints). 







A horse walks into a bar. “Hey,” says the barman. “Yes please,” says the horse.






PhD Students:
Melen Research Group members
The Boss:
Dr Rebecca L. Melen
2004-2012 University of Cambridge, UK (PhD, MA, MSci, BA)
2012-2013 University of Toronto, Canada (postdoc)
2013-2014 Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany (Humboldt fellow)
2014-2017 Cardiff University, UK (Lecturer)
2017-2019 Cardiff University, UK (Senior Lecturer)
​2019-        Cardiff University, UK (Reader)
Honorary Group Members:
Research Students:
Postdocs: