PhD Chemistry student selected to attend 67th Nobel Laureate meeting


PhD Chemistry student selected to attend 67th Nobel Laureate meeting

15 March

Mr Frederick Malan, a final-year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pretoria, is one of only five South African postgraduate students selected to attend the 67th Nobel Laureate meeting in Lindau, Germany, from 25 to 30 June .

Mr Malan’s attendance of this meeting is sponsored by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in partnership with the National Department of Science and Technology. Mr Malan will be completing his PhD degree this year, under the supervision of Prof Marilé Landman of the Department of Chemistry and Dr Eric Singleton, on the catalytic applications of CpMetal N-heterocyclic carbene complexes.

An elated Mr 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. I am humbled and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be able to represent the Department of Chemistry and the University of Pretoria at this international annual event.’

His PhD research project is ever-evolving and continuously moving towards multi-functionality. ‘Through my work, I first aimed at synthesising ionic liquids in more facile ways that make use of fewer synthetic steps, generate less waste, and minimise 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 functionalisation reactions important to industry, all of which we have successfully catalysed 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.’

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Mr Malan’s other achievements include being awarded a UP Postgraduate Travel grant for a research visit to University of Bern, Switzerland, and NRF Innovation bursaries for his honours, master’s and PhD studies. He also won a Next Generation Scholarship bursary for his MSc and the Merck award for best third-year Chemistry student. Furthermore, he was named one of the Top 10 Alumni Graduates of the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg in 2011.

The first Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting was held in 1951 and since then the annual event has become a unique international scientific forum. Around 400 students from around the world are invited for one week in the European summer to meet 30 to 40 Nobel Laureates. Students are encouraged to present their research in a number of sessions focused on the active exchange of knowledge between the young scientists and the Nobel Laureates. Each of the three Nobel Prize science disciplines is covered, one per year, in a cycle: physiology and medicine, chemistry, and physics. The 67th Meeting of Nobel Laureates is dedicated to chemistry.

– Author Martie Meyer

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Last edited by Anita BothaEdit