Group members

Current Group

Jonathan Andrews

dr jonathan andrews

Originally from Lincoln, England, Jonny obtained his MChem from the University of Sheffield, during which he did an industrial placement at GlaxoSmithKline and a masters project with Dr. Ben Partridge, studying Chan-Lam couplings of alkyl boronic esters. He then joined the 2018 cohort of the SBM CDT at the University of Oxford, completing rotations with the Willis group and the Burton group. He then continued his research in the Willis group, studying new radical reactions and reagents for the synthesis of sulfinates and their aza-analogues, completing his DPhil in 2023. Jonny is now a postdoc in the Willis group, continuing work into radical reactions of sulfinylamines. Outside of the lab, Jonny can most often be found on a bike, as he competes in various triathlon and cycling events throughout the year.


Charlie Bell

dr charlie bell

Charlie grew up in Stockport, Greater Manchester, before completing his undergraduate studies in chemistry at the University of Nottingham. During this time, he gained experience in the pharmaceutical industry with a yearlong placement at F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Switzerland, where he was involved in the development of biologically active small molecules for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Charlie completed his Master's project under the supervision of Prof. Hon Wai Lam, investigating the nickel-catalysed, diastereoselective synthesis of 3-methyleneindan-1-ols. In 2018, he moved to Oxford to join the Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT programme. After rotation projects in the groups of Prof. Jonathan Burton and Prof. Michael Willis, Charlie committed to a life in the Willis group, completing his DPhil in aza-sulfur chemistry in 2023. Shortly after, he began his post-doc in the group. In his free time, Charlie enjoys (free) coffee, running, squash, cooking and travelling.






Mingyan Ding (St. Catherine’s College)

mingyan ding

Mingyan completed her MSc in Chemistry at Durham University in 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Patrick Steel, working on iridium-catalysed C-H borylation of polyfluorinated arenes.  She moved to Oxford and joined the Willis group for her DPhil studies in the same year. Her current research project focuses on developing new methods for the synthesis of sulfur functional groups. Outside of chemistry, she enjoys travelling, swimming, and reading.









Nicoleta Lazar (Lincoln College)

nicoleta lazar

Nicoleta is the recipient of a Lincoln-Kingsgate SBM CDT Graduate Scholarship. Originally from Iasi, Romania, Nicoleta moved to Oxford for her undergraduate studies. There, she completed her Part II Project under the supervision of Prof Michael Willis, working on the development of new synthetic routes to α-keto-sulfonyl fluorides. Previously, Nicoleta had undertaken a summer industrial internship at Procter & Gamble, as well as a research one in the Oxford Chemistry working under the supervision of Dr Emily Flashman, on the expression, kinetic characterisation and development of potential inhibition pathways of a biologically active maize PCO enzyme. Nicoleta's academic interests are centred on developing new synthetic methods. Outside the lab, she enjoys travelling, reading, cooking and dancing.






Ivan Wong (Somerville College)


Originally from Hong Kong SAR, Ivan completed his Bachelor’s in Chemistry at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His final year project, under the supervision of Professor Fuk Yee Kwong, explored the Pd-catalysed C-H olefination of polyfluoroarenes with alkenyl tosylate. He also completed summer research placements working under the supervision of Professor Hak Fun Chow, Professor Hung Kay Lee and Professor Peter Scott in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. Currently, Ivan is working on the synthesis of sulfonimidamides and investigation on their potential applications. Outside the lab, Ivan enjoys sports, reading and video games.










Di Zhai (St Anne’s College)

di zhai

Originally from Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. Di got his bachelor's degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. During his Master’s project at Fudan University, he worked in Prof. Shengming Ma’s group in the metal catalysis of aerobic oxidation of alcohols. He has a broad interest in organic synthesis, particularly the field of photochemistry and metal catalysis. Outside of chemistry, Di enjoys swimming and Teamfight Tactics.











Ludwig Bauer (St. Hugh’s College)

ludwig bauer

Ludwig holds a BSc and MSc in Biochemistry from the Technical University Munich. He was part of the joint Munich team in iGEM 2017, a global synthetic biology competition. During his studies, he conducted research on protein degraders in the Cravatt lab at Scripps Research and completed an internship at F. Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, developing an LC-MS method for biopharmaceutical quality control. He completed his master's thesis in the Superti-Furga lab at CeMM, Vienna, studying protein-protein interactions. For his DPhil, Ludwig is jointly supervised by Kilian Huber and Michael Willis.






Ben Williams (Oriel College)

ben williams

Ben is the recipient of the Alec Bond Graduate Scholarship in Chemistry. Originally from London, England, Ben has since lived in the Cayman Islands and Great Malvern. He graduated with a First Class MChem degree at University College, University of Oxford in 2020, completing his Part II project under the supervision of Prof Michael Willis developing new methods to generate sulfinamide radicals using photoredox catalysis. In summer 2019, Ben undertook a summer research placement working under Prof Ed Anderson working towards the total synthesis of Alcyopterson P and Miltiorin D. Ben joined the SBM CDT in September 2020 and completed a rotation in computational chemistry in a collaboration between the Duarte and Anderson groups working on iron catalysed Kumada couplings. Ben’s current area of research lies in photochemistry and copper catalysis. Outside of chemistry Ben’s interests include rowing, playing rugby, watching Formula 1, cooking and pub quizes.






Mingkai Wei (Wadham College)

mingkai wei

Mingkai is from Changsha, China. He did his undergraduate in Sichuan University, with Professor Da-Gang Yu and Jason Chruma. Mingkai is now a third-year DPhil in the Willis group, working on the synthesis of aza-sulfur compounds. Outside the lab, he enjoys badminton, running and cooking.








May Merino (St. John’s College)

may merino

Originally from Manchester, May completed her MSci in Chemistry with Industrial Experience at the University of Bristol. In the third year of her undergraduate studies, she undertook an industrial placement at Cancer Research UK in Cambridge working on the synthesis of small molecules for drug development. Her Master's project was supervised by Jonathan Clayden, investigating chiral corannulenes. Her current research interests include catalysis and green chemistry, and she acts as the sustainability representative for the Willis group. Outside the lab she enjoys life drawing, cinema and live music.







Katherine Rodden (Lady Margaret Hall)

katherine rodden

Originally from Ware, Hertfordshire, Katherine completed an MChem in Chemistry, Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of York, during which she carried out a one-year placement at Bayer CropScience in Germany on the synthesis of novel herbicides. She also completed a summer placement at Cancer Research UK Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories in Cambridge working in the medicinal chemistry team on an oncology drug discovery project. She joined the SBM CDT in September 2021 and completed a rotation in the Conway group before re-joining the Willis group in September 2022. Outside the lab she enjoys dancing, baking and swimming.









Kangtao Zhu (St. Peter’s College)

kangtao zhu

Kangtao is originally from Hangzhou, China, and completed his BSc degree in the department of chemistry at University College London. After graduation, he directly pursued a DPhil in the department of Chemistry at Oxford under the supervision of Prof. Michael Willis. His research interest mainly focuses on the development of new methodologies and advanced organic synthesis in the area of medicinal chemistry. Outside the lab, he enjoys singing, dancing, rap, and basketball.







Suzie Davison (Wadham College)

suzie davison

Originally from Suffolk, England, Suzie recently graduated with a First-Class Honours MChem degree in Chemistry from the University of St Andrews. As part of her degree, she spent 12 months working as a synthetic chemist at GSK Montrose focusing on a variety of process improvement projects. For her final year project, Suzie worked under the supervision of Prof Allan Watson investigating C-H activation using cyanoboron reagents to synthesise aryl nitriles. Suzie joined the SBM CDT in September 2022 and completed rotations in the Langton and Willis group. Suzie joined the Willis group for her DPhil in September 2023 and works on new methodologies to access under-utilised sulfur functional groups. Outside of the lab, Suzie enjoys sailing and being by the sea.






Josh Baxter (Lady Margaret Hall)

joshua baxter

Josh, originally from Preston, Lancashire, completed a four-year MChem at the University of Durham. Josh spent his final year on a Medicinal Chemistry placement at Roche in Basel, Switzerland. Here he worked on the synthesis and characterisation of novel antibiotic compounds against multi-drug resistant bacteria. He has a broad interest in organic synthesis, particularly in developing new synthetic methodologies for application in the construction of medicinally relevant compounds. Outside of the lab, Josh enjoys keeping fit, watching the rugby and hanging out with friends.







Matt Southern (St. Peter’s College)

matt southern

Matt is the recipient of an Industrial Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Originally from Cardiff, Matt completed his MChem with first class honours from the University of Durham under the supervision of Prof. Patrick Steel. During his final year, Matthew conducted an industrial placement at Sygnature Discovery synthesising and functionalising an sp3 rich compound library for high throughput screening. Following his placement, Matt continued working as a member of the high throughput experimentation team at Sygnature Discovery, exploring new synthetic techniques and supporting medicinal chemistry projects using array-based chemistry. He has a broad interest in organic synthesis and the use of automation and new technologies to synthesise biologically relevant molecules. Outside of the lab, Matt enjoys cooking, watching sport and a trip to the pub with friends.






Will Redding (St. Edmund’s Hall)

will redding

Originally from Southampton, Will is currently studying for his part II project as a part of his masters in Chemistry from the University of Oxford. His interests cover organic synthesis broadly, though he is currently working on unimolecular photocyclization. In his spare time Will enjoys walking, playing videogames, and cooking.











Maia Hamilton (New College)

maia hamilton

Originally from Belfast, Maia is in her fourth year at New College. She is now exploring the synthesis and reactivity of S(IV) and S(VI) electrophiles. In her spare time, she likes reading, hiking, and spending time with friends.












Presiyan Tsvetkov (Brasenose College)

presyan tsvetkov

Originally from Bulgaria, Presiyan is a current Part II student doing his project with the Willis group. His research concerns the functionalisation of sulfoximine moieties while his broader interests include organic synthesis and methodology. Outside the lab Presiyan enjoys listening to music, spending time with his mates and exercising.