marlowe graham

When did you become interested in chemistry?

I have been interested in science in general since I was very little, and became deeply interested in chemistry when it was offered in high school. Participation in the chemistry Olympiad developed my interest further, and by the end of high school I was certain I would study chemistry in some capacity, and ended up choosing a combined Engineering/Science degree.

What made you come to the University of Sydney?

Starting my degree I had a vague idea that I wanted to pursue a research career, the reputation of the university as a leading Australian research institute was one of the deciding factors in choosing the University of Sydney. After having the opportunity to visit the university a few times, the campus environment began to grow on me and it was a lot easier to get to than other universities as well.

What made you decide to do Honours in Chemistry?

I originally enrolled in a combined Engineering/Science degree intending to major in chemical engineering and chemistry and then find work as a chemical engineer. After second year I was a part of the Year in Industry program through the school of chemistry whereby I worked in a chemical laboratory for a year, and during this year I realized that I much preferred the idea of working on difficult problems and novel ideas in research than going through the motions of a full time routine in industry. Towards the end of the year I attended an organic chemistry research conference, where I saw people not much older than I was presenting their research, and the sorts of things they were doing seemed so interesting that I knew this was what I wanted to do, so I dropped Engineering and decided to do Honours in chemistry.

What kind of research are you doing?

My honours project is supervised by Dr Chris McErlean, working in the areas of novel reaction development and natural product synthesis. I am working towards applying on-water catalyzed reactions to develop a novel synthetic route to the ansamycins – a family of natural products being investigated for their antitumor properties.

What are you planning to do when you have finished your Honours degree?

After Honours I think I'll (hopefully) continue to a PhD, either here or abroad. Being involved in research is challenging and rewarding, and with every passing day I want more to make a career out of it. One day I hope to research and be paid for it too!