Introducing SCI Scholar, Thomas Britten

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 ca.70 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community. In the past nine years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

Thomas Britten was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2016. Here, he tells us about himself and his research project.

‘Originally from Bournemouth, my interest in chemistry stems from the outstanding science teachers I had during my A-levels at Oakmead College of Technology (now known as Oak Academy). In 2015, I graduated from Bangor University with a first class MChem degree, receiving various awards during my studies: School of Chemistry Achievement Award (2012), AMRI MChem award (2015) and SCI’s Liverpool & North West Regional Group 2015 award. Additionally, I was a Dr John Roberts Jones Award nominee for being one of the highest graduating students from Bangor University in 2015.

‘I started to develop a keen interest for synthetic organic chemistry after I completed a 3 month Erasmus internship with Prof J-L Reymond (Universität Bern, Switzerland) at the end of my second year, where I was involved with a medicinal chemistry project. This was followed by a third year project on organic field-effect transistors under the supervision of Prof I Perepichka (Bangor University), an internship at the BioComposites Centre in collaboration with Dr R Braganca (BioComposites) and Prof B Paizs (Bangor University) working on protein extraction from waste material provided by the Molson Coors brewery after their fermentation process, and an MChem project under the supervision of Dr M Lahmann (Bangor University), during which I synthesised orthogonally protected monosaccharide building blocks. The success of the project resulted in the successful funding application to the IBCarb Network for funding for myself and another student to continue the work over the summer. Also, I was awarded a fully-funded placement to the 1st chemical biology summer school in Leiden (Netherlands), which involved a series of talks presented by numerous prestigious scientists.

‘In 2015, I joined the research group of Dr S Coote at the recently reopened Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, to start my PhD studies. My research project uses photochemistry (chemistry mediated by light) to develop an efficient, scalable and sustainable methodology to transform simple starting materials into complex intermediates from which a variety of functionalised four-membered heterocyclic systems will be produced. These molecular fragments are of great interest in the pharmaceutical industry, but their synthesis is particularly difficult using existing methods. In particular, the new methodology will be developed using a state-of-the-art flow photoreactor, which will not only make possible efficient scale-up, but also facilitate direct transfer of the new methodology to industry.’

Thomas Britten,
Lancaster University and SCI Scholar 2016-18

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