Bradley Higginson, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Rubén Martín (ICIQ), has defended his PhD thesis entitled “Catalytic transformations enabled by dual nickel-photoredox manifolds” (assigned to the Organic and Analytical Chemistry Department of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on November 17th.
The members of the evaluation committee were Prof.Dr. Igor Larrosa ( University of Manchester), Prof. Dr. Arkaitz Correa ( Universidad del Pais Vasco) and Dr. Fabio Julià (Junior Leader ”la Caixa” , ICIQ).
Dr. Bradley Higginson is from Barrow-in-Furness, a small town in the north of England. He studied chemistry at the University of Liverpool and enjoyed organometallic lectures, and the creativity of methodology so decided to work in this field.
He received a doctoral INPhINIT Fellowship from ”la Caixa Foundation” to study at ICIQ.
He has a few hobbies; he likes to read and can get quite creative with photography and sketching. Otherwise, he can be found socializing with friends over a coffee or beer.
Why did you become a scientist?
I came into it because it combines both logic and imagination. I also wanted to challenge myself, academia means that you are learning every day and learning new things is one of the most enjoyable things to me.
What do you want to achieve as a scientist?
A memorable contribution towards the advancement of science in my chosen field.
What is your thesis about?
My thesis is about combining nickel chemistry with photochemistry. It’s a very well explored field after nearly a decade of research but there are still things to learn and projects to discover.
What triggered your interest for the subject of your thesis?
Rubén put me on the topic when I joined the group and I started to become interested in the field from that point and it has been a great field to be a part of.
What applications can your thesis have in the future?
I think that applications within the real world are not particularly strong for my thesis. The C-H functionalization aspect is possible to assess a range of fragrance compounds.
But for me the greatest application that my thesis will have is that is has trained me into a capable scientist. I can now design reactions and apply my knowledge in a much more successful way. In a way, the application of my thesis is me.
From the lessons learnt (or skills developed) at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
Resiliency is probably the skill I will value the most, keep going to the lab, keep learning and if you’re not learning, you’re not progressing
What ICIQ moment you´ll never forget?
The Christmas parties are always a lot of fun!!
What will you miss the most from ICIQ?
The atmosphere and the people, the academic environment is exceptional and being able to interact with so many international students makes it a very nice place to work.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD?
You’re not a postdoc, you’re here to learn how to become an effective scientist, you’re not a results machine. Take the first two years of your PhD to learn new skills, new approaches to problems and the results will follow you.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
The advice I would give to a new PhD is commitment, commit yourself to the process, it’s a long journey and you’re going to need help so ask for it and collaborate with as many people as you can, they will inspire you and you will inspire them.
Have you ever been emotional over an experiment/simulation? Why?
I recently started a new project and one of the first reactions I tried, gave the product in not so bad yield and this was the first time I have ever been able to take an idea from my head and get it into my flask.
Who/What has been your biggest influence/motivation?
My biggest motivation has been the future, if I want to get to where I want to be I need to work on it. Staying still or scared is not going to get me there.
Where are you going next? What will you do there?
I will be going to the University of Basel to work with Prof Thomas Ward in artificial metalloenzymes. Let’s see what we can do!
Chemistry/Science is fun because…
You can never really prove how something works.
What is your favourite molecule?
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
I would be a stirrer bar because Chemistry makes my head spin……
Tell us something about you that people might not know…
I’m British but I prefer coffee to tea.