I studied Master of Chemistry at University of Aberdeen where I became interested in organic chemistry, specifically in synthetic chemistry and natural products chemistry. During my final year I went to Granada, Spain to work with Francisco Reyez and Rainer Ebel on natural product isolation from marine sources. It inspired me to focus more on biosynthesis of natural products which is exactly what my PhD project involves.
My project is focused on Daphniphyllum alkaloids biosynthetic pathway. Plants from genus Daphniphyllum originate from South East Asia and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. These plants are interesting as they produce a range of complex alkaloids showing bioactive properties, however, they are still not fully investigated as their isolation and synthesis are quite challenging. It is hypothesised that there is one universal precursor to all Daphniphyllum alkaloids, but the enzyme catalysing that reaction is still unidentified. I am going to develop a synthetic pathway to the substrates that then will be used to identify and characterise Daphniphyllum enzymes. Understanding of the alkaloid biosynthesis will help to develop new pathways to complex, bioactive compounds.