University of Huddersfield Joe Sweeney
Professor Joe Sweeney
Professor of Catalysis and Chemical Biology
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Joe was awarded a BSc in Chemistry and elected an Associate of the Royal College of Science at Imperial College in 1984, then carried out a PhD studying synthetic uses of aziridines and allylstannanes with Prof. J. E. Baldwin in the Dyson Perrins Lab at the University of Oxford in the period 1984-87. During this period, the first ring-openings of enantiomerically-pure aziridines were discovered. Joe continued his research career as a Royal Society Fellow in the group of Prof. Steve Benner at ETH Zürich (1988-89), before returning to the UK as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester.
In 1990 Joe was appointed as Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Bristol where he developed research projects focused on new methods for preparation and use of polyhydroxylated ring structures, aziridines and metalled furanones, and the total synthesis of several naturally-occurring lactones. In 1996, he moved to a Readership in Organic Chemistry at the University of Reading, where his research expanded into asymmetric methodology, his group delivering new methods for preparation of chiral aziridines and describing the first asymmetric [2,3]-sigmatropic rearrangements of ammonium ylids. In 2007 Joe was awarded the inaugural Faculty Output Prize at the University of Reading for his group’s publication on asymmetric rearrangements, and he became Professor of Synthesis and Chemical Biology.
In 2008, Joe was awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship to collaborate with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals; after two years of vibrant collaborative interactions, the Fellowship was extended (for only the second time in the history of the programme) to enable expansion of the new networking model for chemistry collaborations which had been devised during the first Fellowship. In 2011 Joe was appointed to a research chair at Huddersfield.
Research & Scholarship
Joe’s research group are currently exploring two broad areas of chemical research: catalyzed synthesis and chemical biology. The research programmes in progress included new methods for direct functionalization of heterocycles (research sponsored by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and EPSRC); catalytic tandem bond-forming reactions of reactive intermediates (AZ/EPSRC); new methods for introduction of fluorine into drug-like cores (AZ/EPSRC); rapid C-alkylation of peptides and proteins (EPSRC); new imaging agents for in vivo tracing and mechanistic studies (EPSRC). In addition to research activities, Joe is a passionate advocate for and deliverer of positive outreach activities; he has also appeared in films highlighting the activities of the Royal Society during its 350th anniversary, culminating in his participation in the Convocation of 2010. Joe believes science is about making life better and his aim is to help make a positive contribution towards achieving that aim.