About Stephen


     2017       Lecturer in Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

     2016        Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge

     2015        Visiting Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

     2014        Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University

     2012        Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

     2012        DPhil. Organic Chemistry, University of Oxford

     2008        MChem. Medicinal and Biological Chemistry with Industrial Experience, University of Edinburgh

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Stephen is originally from the small village of Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway. He began his undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2008 with a MChem in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry (1st class honours). During this time in Edinburgh, he spent 12 months working in Discovery Medicinal Chemistry at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage, and also carried out research projects in in the laboratories of Prof. Peter J. Sadler FRS FRSE and Dr Alison N. Hulme.  In 2008, Stephen moved to the University of Oxford (University College) to pursue a DPhil in Organic Chemistry in the laboratory of Prof. Martin D. Smith, where he developed a new cascade approach towards a class of poison arrow dart frog defense alkaloids called the Gephyrotoxins. Whilst always being engaged by research in organic synthesis, Stephen also maintained a keen interest in synergies between organic chemistry and the biological sciences. For this reason, in 2012 he took up a MRC Postdoctoral Career Development Fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Jason W. Chin FMedSci at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Whilst at the LMB, he worked on various projects involving unnatural amino acid incorporation using AMBER stop-codon suppression in E. coli. However, the main focus of his research was on the design of new strain-promoted bioorthogonal cycloaddition reactions for protein labeling in vivo. This research led to various discoveries relating to the bioorthogonal inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reaction of bicyclo-[6.1.0]-nonynes and trans-cyclooctenes, and the discovery of the strain-promoted 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition chemistry of mesoionic sydnones in vivo. Keen to learn more about metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, in 2014 Stephen moved to the U.S. as a Marie-Curie International Research Fellow, where he worked in the laboratory of Prof. Emily P. Balskus in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. Whilst at Harvard Stephen developed a Fe-catalyzed biocompatible cyclopropanation reaction that could be dynamically interfaced with styrene-producing E. coli cells, as well as investigating the effect of micelles on this reaction in vivo. During this time, he also spent six months as a visiting postdoctoral research assistant in the laboratory of Prof. Kristala L. J. Prather in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, where he used P1 transduction methods to metabolically engineer E. coli. In 2016, Stephen carried out the Return Phase of his Marie Curie Fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Steven V. Ley CBE FRS FMedSci in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, where he continued his work on combining synthetic and biological strategies for chemical synthesis. In 2017, Stephen returned to the University of Edinburgh as a Lecturer in Biotechnology in the School of Biological Sciences, where his lab explores scientific opportunities at the interface of organic chemistry and synthetic biology.