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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
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    Dr Zoe E. Wilson

    Murray Edwards College
    New Hall
    University of Cambridge
    CB3 0DF

    Fellow in Organic Chemistry; Director of Studies

    Chemistry (Synthetic)


    Since being at Murray Edwards I have really enjoyed seeing my students grow, both in understanding and importantly in confidence as they have a supportive environment to learn and develop in. I really appreciate how our colleges special focus on helping our women to succeed means we are uniquely placed to ensure that they do just that, which is so especially important in subjects such as chemistry where females are still so sadly under-represented.

    Degrees and honours

    All received at The University of Auckland, New Zealand:

    • BSc in Medicinal Chemistry (2005)
    • BSc (Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry (2006)
    • and PhD in Organic Chemistry (2010).

    Awards and prizes

    • 2012: Roche continents, Invited participant, 11th – 17th August 2012, Salzburg, Austria.
    • 2011 – 2013: Newton International Fellowship (Royal Society/British Academy).
    • 2010: 40th St Gallen Symposium, “Entrepreneurs – Agents of Change”, Selected as a Leader of Tomorrow through an international essay competition, 6th – 7th May 2010, St Gallen, Switzerland.
    • 2009: 39th St Gallen Symposium, “Revival of Political and Economic Boundaries”, Selected as a Leader of Tomorrow through an international essay competition, 7th – 9th May 2009, St Gallen, Switzerland.
    • 2009: High Distinction, Faculty of Science Postgraduate Poster Competition, University of Auckland.
    • 2008: Royal Society of New Zealand Travel Grant to attend ICOS-17 in Daejeon, South Korea.
    • 2007 – 2010: University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship.
    • 2006 – 2007: University of Auckland Summer Scholarship, University of Auckland.
    • 2006: New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (Auckland Branch) Prize.
    • 2006: Faculty of Science Postgraduate Tuition Fees Bursary, University of Auckland.
    • 2005 – 2006: Faculty of Science Summer Scholarship, University of Auckland.
    • 2005: Senior prize in Chemistry.
    • 2004: Jack Swindell’s Estate “Young People’s Scholarship".
    • 2003: Jack Swindell’s Estate “Young People’s Scholarship”.

    Research interests

    • Synthesis of complex natural products
    • Developing novel synthetic methodology
    • Using flow chemistry technology to enable synthesis


    Zoe grew up on a farm in the small town of Warkworth, New Zealand. She attended the University of Auckland where she completed a Bachelor of Science and a BSc (Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry before being funded by a University of Auckland scholarship to carry out PhD. research with Professor Margaret Brimble on natural product synthesis. She was then awarded a Newton International Fellowship from the Royal Society to join the research group of Professor Steven V. Ley in the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge. Upon completion of the Newton Fellowship, she was employed as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate to remain in the Ley group. While in Cambridge, she has been working on the total synthesis of the complex natural products and on developing novel chemical methodology utilising flow chemistry technology. Zoe has been a College Lecturer and Fellow at Murray Edwards College since October 2013, where she supervises students for undergraduate synthetic chemistry and serves on the Events and Catering committee.


    • Steffen V. F. Hansen, Zoe E. Wilson, Trond Ulven* and Steven V. Ley*, “Controlled generation and use of CO in flow”, React. Chem. Eng., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/c6re00020g
    • Daniel Lücke, Toryn Dalton, Steven V. Ley and Zoe E. Wilson*, “Synthesis of natural and unnatural cyclooligomeric depsipeptides enabled by flow chemistry”, Chem. Eur. J., 2016, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201504457
    • Zoe E. Wilson, Sabine Fenner and Steven V. Ley, “Total syntheses of linear poly-thiazole/oxazole plantazolicin A and its biosynthetic precursor plantazolicin B”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2015, 54, 1284 – 1288. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201410063R1
    • Steffen Glöckner, Duc N. Tran, Richard J. Ingham, Sabine Fenner, Zoe E. Wilson, Claudio Battilocchio and Steven V. Ley, “The rapid synthesis of oxazolines and their heterogeneous oxidation to oxazoles under flow conditions”, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2015, 13, 207–214, DOI: 10.1039/c4ob02105c
    • Michael C. McLeod, Zoe E. Wilson and Margaret A. Brimble, “Formal synthesis of berkelic acid: a lesson in α-alkylation chemistry”, J. Org. Chem., 2012, 77, 1, 400–416, DOI: 10.1021/jo201988m
    • Michael C. McLeod, Margaret A. Brimble, Dominea C. K. Rathwell, Zoe E. Wilson and Tsz-Ying Yuen, “Synthetic approaches to [5,6]-benzannulated spiroketal natural products”, Pure Appl. Chem., 2012, 84, 6, 1379-1390, DOI: 10.1351/PAC-CON-11-08-06
    • Michael C. McLeod, Zoe E. Wilson and Margaret A. Brimble, “An enantioselective formal synthesis of berkelic acid”, Org. Lett., 2011, 13, 19, 5382 – 5385, DOI: 10.1021/ol202265g
    • Zoe E. Wilson, Jonathan G. Hubert, Margaret A. Brimble, “A flexible approach to 6,5-benzannulated spiroketals”, Eur. J. Org. Chem., 2011, 3938-3945, DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.201100345
    • Jonathan Sperry, Yen-Cheng (William) Liu, Zoe E. Wilson, Jonathan G. Hubert, Margaret A. Brimble, “Synthesis of benzannulated spiroketals using an oxidative radical cyclization”, Synthesis, 2011, 9, 1383-1398, DOI: 10.1055/s-003001259981
    • Jonathan Sperry, Zoe E. Wilson, Dominea C. K. Rathwell and Margaret A. Brimble, “Isolation, biological activity and synthesis of benzannulated spiroketal natural products”, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2010, 27, 1117-1137, DOI: 10.1039/b911514p
    • Zoe E. Wilson and Margaret A. Brimble, “A flexible asymmetric synthesis of the tetracyclic core of berkelic acid using a novel Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons/oxa-Michael cascade”, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2010, 8, 1284-1286, DOI: 10.1039/B927219B
    • Zoe E. Wilson and Margaret A. Brimble, “Molecules derived from the extremes of life”, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2009, 26, 44–71, DOI: 10.1039/b800164m. Featured as an Instant insight article in Chemical Biology (“Life at the extremes”, Chemical Biology, 2008, 3, B95) and featured on the cover of the issue (Nat. Prod. Rep., 2009, 26, 1-2, DOI: 10.1039/B821737H)
    • Fiona J. Radcliff, John D. Fraser, Zoe E. Wilson, Amanda M. Heapy, James E. Robinson, Christina J. Bryant, Christopher L. Flowers, and Margaret A. Brimble, “Anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of derivatives of the phthalide-containing antibacterial agents spirolaxine methyl ether, CJ-12,954, CJ-13,013, CJ-13,102, CJ-13,104, CJ-13,108 and CJ-13,015”, Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2008, 16, 6179–6185, DOI: 10.1016/j.bmc.2008.04.037
    • Zoe E. Wilson, Amanda M. Heapy and Margaret A. Brimble, “Synthesis of indole analogues of the anti-Helicobacter pylori compounds CJ-13,015, CJ-13,102, CJ-13,104 and CJ-13,108”, Tetrahedron, 2007, 63, 5379–5385, DOI: 10.1016/j.tet.2007.04.067