Jiayu Zhang, a PhD student who is under Prof. Mónica Pérez Temprano’s supervision, has successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Discovery of new reaction modes in organic synthesis triggered by HFIP” publicly on October 19th.
The members of the evaluation committee were Prof. Dr. Jose Manuel Gonzalez Diaz (Universidad de Oviedo), Prof. Dr. Alex Shafir (Institut de Química Avançada de Catalunya) and Prof. Dr. Alicia Casitas Montero (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany).
Dr. Zhang was born in Shaanxi, China. She got her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the Shaanxi Normal University (2012-2016) and pursued her Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry in Xi´an Jiaotong University (2016-2019). In 2019, she joined the group of Kilian Muñiz to start her doctoral studies in Organic Chemistry at ICIQ. After Kilian´s sadly passed away in March of 2020, Jiayu joined the group of Pérez-Temprano to continue her PhD studies, funded by a Chinese Government Scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (CSC). Outside the lab, Dr. Zhang enjoys listening to music and playing the guitar.
Why did you become a scientist?
The amazing chemical experiments my teacher showed to us in high school made me interested in chemistry, and then I wanted to become a chemist.
What do you want to achieve as a scientist?
I hope my research would be useful for the society, such as medicine area or material area.
What is your thesis about?
My thesis is centred around the conception and implementation of novel synthetic protocols, all facilitated by the inclusion of HFIP. The central goal of our endeavour is to broaden the spectrum of functions that this perfluorinated alcohol can undertake in the domains of both metal-free and TM-catalysis. Through a systematic exploration of HFIP’s potential, we aim to forge innovative pathways in the realm of catalytic methodologies.
What triggered your interest for the subject of your thesis?
HFIP has been widely used in different types of transformations in organic synthesis, and in most cases its effect is much better than other solvents, but the role it plays has not been well studied.
What applications can your thesis have in the future?
My thesis will contribute to the design and development of new reactions triggered by HFIP.
The thing that I like most about my thesis is….
The mechanistic studies in both projects, which is interesting and from where I learned a lot.
What will you miss the most from ICIQ?
I will miss the different types of techniques in ICIQ, which makes our research lives easier.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
I recommend dedicating time to reading, deep thinking, and not hesitating to seek help and advice from others.
Who/What has been your biggest influence/motivation?
The people around me have played a crucial role in inspiring and motivating me.
Chemistry/Science is fun because…
Chemistry and science are fascinating because they can be both predictable and full of surprises.
What is your favourite molecule?
My favourite molecule would be 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP), as it gives amazing results for my projects.
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
If I were a piece of a lab equipment, I would be a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine (NMR), as it is the eye of chemists.