Melen Research Group      
Advancing Main Group Chemistry
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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.

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.
Recent Publication: An international study evaluating elemental analysis, ACS Cent. Sci., 2022, 8, 855.

Matthew Heard (PhD: 2020-)
Matt obtained his MChem degree from the University of York with 1st Class Honours. 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 he is investigating the use of Frustrated Lewis Pairs as metal-free catalysts for organic synthesis and exploring the design of new boron and aluminium Lewis acids.
​Recent Publication: Borane catalysed cyclopropenation of arylacetylenes, Chem. Comm., 2021.

Michael Guerzoni (PhD: 2021-)
​Michael obtained his bachelor degree in chemistry in 2018 from University of Bologna (Italy) working on the synthesis of peptides and peptidomimetics for drug delivery system under the supervision of prof L. Gentilucci. In 2020, he obtained from the same university a master degree in Synthetic methodologies and Bio-Organic Chemistry (Cum Laude) this time working on the organocatalytic enantioselective synthesis of isoxazoline scaffolds for pharmaceutical applications, under the supervision of A. Tolomelli. As a PhD student in the Melen group, he is working in the field of organoboron catalysis in organic synthesis, as well as in the radical chemistry of Frustrated Radical Pairs in collaboration with Dr. Emma Richards.
Recent Publication: Lewis acid assisted Brønsted acid catalysed decarbonylation of Isocyanates: a combined DFT and experimental study, Chem. Eur. J., 2022, 10.1002/chem.202201422.

Nusaybah Alotaibi (PhD: 2021-)
Nusaybah completed her MSc in King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, 2019. Her master project involved the pyrolytic synthesis of cobalt-carbon nanocomposites from new cobalt complexes of nitrogen-donor ligands and their application in water treatment. Nusaybah joined the Melen group as a PhD student in 2021, investigating the catalytic reactivities of Lewis acidic boranes in organic transformations.


​Adam McLauchlan (PhD: 2022-)
Adam obtained his MChem at the University of Edinburgh with 1st class honours and an award for outstanding academic achievement. He completed his Masters project in Martin Oestreich's group at TU Berlin on enantio- and regioconvergent coupling of allylic silylated halides. He is now working on the use of Frustrated Lewis Pairs in CO2 reduction.



Dan Tinsley (MChem: 2022-)
​Dan has joined the group on an RSC summer project working collaboratively with Professor Adrian Porch in the School of Engineering investigating Lewis Acidity of FLPs using Microwave technology. In September he will start his MChem Project within the Melen Group.



Will Howlett (MSc: 2022-)
Will completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Dalhousie University, Canada. He has joined the group for his MSc project and will be working with Yara on Bismuth chemistry. 






Indium Melen (Mascot: 2014-)
Indium is a 14-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:
Professor 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)
​2019-2021 Cardiff University, UK (Reader)
2021-        Cardiff University, UK (Professor)
Honorary Group Members:
Masters Students:
Postdocs:
Dr Tanja Kaehler (PDF: 2021-)
Tanja completed her PhD from Goethe University Frankfurt​, Germany in 2021 under the supervision of Prof. Dr Matthias Wagner, where she completed her M.Sc. in chemistry in 2015. Her research mainly focuses on boron/nitrogen containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In the Melen group she is investigating fluorinated triaryl aluminium complexes. 
Recent publication: Comparative study of fluorinated triarylalanes and their borane counterparts, Cell Reports Physical Science (2021).