7 Aug 2013
Ekaterina Melikhova writes: I first became involved in chemistry at my high school in Moscow, which specialised in chemistry and biology. From an early age I was interested in chemical processes and the structure of matter. I participated in a few chemistry school olympiads and was awarded a medal at the end of my school career. Consequently, I had no hesitation in choosing chemistry as my main subject at university.
I spent five years studying for my undergraduate degree at Lomonosov Moscow State University and realised that my calling is in organic chemistry. I find organic synthesis is the most creative field of chemistry , as well as the most experimental, and I enjoy both of these aspects very much. My final year research project involved the synthesis of phosphorus containing heterocycles using phosphonium-iodonium ylides as precusors.
I also undertook a summer placement in 2011 at the University of Bristol in Dr John Bower's group, investigating the development of novel rhodium-catalysed carbonylative cyclopropane ring expansions. My publication was accepted by the Journal of the American Chemical Society. As I greatly enjoyed this experience, I decided to apply for a PhD in England. My application to Oxford University was successful and I received a scholarship from the Hill Foundation.
I started my DPhil project in October 2012 in Prof Donohoe's group. I am pursuing the total synthesis of a complex natural product - microsclerodermin B - which exhibits antifungal and anticancer activity. It is a macrocyclic hexapeptide, and my first aim in this project was to complete the most complex of the six components. I am now working on the assembly of the whole molecule. I'm enjoying my project, which has given me a lot of practical experience in a very wide range of experiments and has expanded my theoretical knowledge in organic chemistry. Work on this project allows me to put my thoughts into practice, and enjoy the beauty of synthetic chemistry and the process of cognition.
Outside of my studies, I'm a member of Lincoln College in Oxford, which adds a unique element to my academic life. My hobbies include swimming and zumba, taking walks in Oxford, surrounding countryside and parks as well as attending some of the many cultural events Oxford has to offer.
University of Oxford
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