PhD student at UP selected to attend 67th Nobel Laureate Meeting

HENRI UYS

Frederick Malan, a final-year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry, has been selected to attend the 67th Nobel Laureate meeting in Lindau, Germany. The meeting this year will focus on chemistry. Malan is one of five postgraduate students in South Africa who will attend the meeting.

Malan will be completing his PhD degree this year. His project involves research on the catalytic applications of CpMetal N-heterocyclic carbine complexes.

Malan said, “The initial disbelief I experienced was quickly followed by intense excitement after realising that I was one of only five aspiring young South African scientists to have been selected to attend this prestigious meeting. I cannot wait to meet the world’s leading and most respected researchers in the field of chemistry. I am looking forward to learning from their experiences and being inspired by their dedication to this field of science.”

Speaking about his project, Malan said, “I first aimed at synthesising ionic liquids in more facile ways that make use of fewer synthetic steps, generate less waste, and minimize the use of toxic chemicals. The next phase involved the use of these ionic liquids as ligands in the synthesis of organometallic complexes of both earth-abundant and precious metals known to exhibit catalytic activity in a wide range of organic transformation reactions. These transformations include different C-C, C-N, and C-O functionalization reactions important to industry, all of which we have successfully catalyzed in our labs. Other studies, including quantum-mechanical calculations and electrochemistry on all of these complexes have been conducted in order to allow us to better understand the reactivity patterns of these complexes and allow for optimum catalyst design.”

Malan has also received other awards. He was awarded a UP postgraduate travel grant to visit the University of Bern in Switzerland. He has also been awarded NRF Innovation bursaries for his studies. In 2011, he was listed in the Top 10 Alumni Graduates of the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg.

The 67th Nobel Laureate meeting will be held between 25 and 30 June this year.

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