Dr Jenni Garden has been at the School of Chemsitry for nine months after becoming our first ever Christina Miller Research Fellow. She tells us about her experiences over that time.
I am honoured to be the first recipient of the Christina Miller Research Fellowship, which I took up at the University of Edinburgh in September 2016.
This role has been an exciting opportunity for me to join an engaging and dynamic School, which is strongly committed to supporting early career academics and promoting equality and diversity. I am keen to pursue an academic career, and I was attracted by the developmental nature of this scheme, which gives me the opportunity to establish a new area of independent research while receiving guidance and advice from other academics in the School of Chemistry.
My research focuses on the design and synthesis of new homo- and heterometallic complexes, and their application towards real world challenges. This work combines different fields of chemistry including organometallic synthesis, catalyst development and sustainable polymer materials. The emerging concept of mixed-metal cooperativity can be exploited to give enhanced activities and selectivities. My research helps to advance this concept within deprotonative metallation, alkylation chemistry and ring-opening copolymerisation.
I received my MSci (1st Class Hons, 2010) and PhD (2014) from the University of Strathclyde, the latter under the direction of Prof. Robert Mulvey. My PhD research dealt with the design, synthesis, characterisation and reaction chemistry of new zinc and zincate complexes, for which I was awarded the Patrick Ritchie Prize (University of Strathclyde).
Following this, I spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Charlotte Williams at Imperial College London, where I designed, synthesised and tested catalysts for carbon dioxide-epoxide copolymerisation, in collaboration with Econic Technologies.
It has been lovely to come back to Scotland, and I have been settling in to life in Edinburgh. I have had a very warm welcome from the School of Chemistry, and the staff and students have been friendly, supportive and collaborative.
The fellowship is named after Dr Christina ("Chrissie") Miller (1899 - 2001), who was an outstanding researcher at the University of Edinburgh, and the first female chemist to be elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Chrissie prepared the first pure sample of phosphorous(III) oxide, showing that trace impurities of elemental phosphorous were responsible for the glow observed by other researchers. As a result of this work, Chrissie was awarded the Keith Prize (Royal Society of Edinburgh), her DSc degree, and a lectureship with tenure at the University of Edinburgh.
While Dr Christina Miller will be a hard act to follow, this fellowship has already opened up new opportunities for me. I am currently building my own research group, with two PhD students starting in September. I was delighted when I recently received a Ramsay Memorial Trust Fellowship, which will extend my time at the University of Edinburgh beyond the Christina Miller Research Fellowship.