About Stephen

2023                 Professor of Chemical Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

2020                 UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, University of Edinburgh

2020                 Senior Lecturer in Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

2019                  Visiting Associate, California Institute of Technology                                                                                  (with Prof. Frances Arnold)

2017                  Lecturer in Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

2016                  Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge                                                                             (with Prof. Steve Ley FRS FMedSci)

2014-16             Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University                                                                                      (with Prof. Emily Balskus)

2012-14             Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology                                                      (with Prof. Jason Chin FMedSci)

2008-12             DPhil. Organic Chemistry, University of Oxford (with Prof. Martin Smith)

2004-08             MChem. Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

                                        Staff Page, Twitter (@Dr_StephenW)
Stephen is originally from 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). During this time, he also spent 12 months working as a medicinal chemist for GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage. In 2008, he moved to the University of Oxford (University College) to pursue a DPhil in Organic Chemistry with Prof. Martin D. Smith, where he worked on the total synthesis of the Gephyrotoxin family of frog toxin alkaloids. In 2012, he moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge to take up a Career Development Fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Jason Chin. Whilst here, he developed a range of strain-promoted Diels-Alder click reactions for the site-specific labeling of proteins in E. coli using AMBER stop-codon suppression. In 2014, he moved to the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University on a Marie Curie International Fellowship, where he joined the laboratory of Prof. Emily Balskus. At Harvard, he developed the use of abiotic, non-enzymatic reactions for use with metabolically engineered bacteria. In 2016, he carried out the Return Phase of his Fellowship at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Chemistry where he was hosted by Prof. Steve Ley.
In 2017, Stephen joined the University of Edinburgh as Lecturer (Asst. Prof.) in Biotechnology, where his independent research explores scientific opportunities at the interface of synthetic chemistry and synthetic biology. In 2019, he was seconded to the Department of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Prof. Frances Arnold on the directed evolution of enzymes. In 2020, Stephen was awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to continue his work on the combined use of chemical catalysts and engineered microbes for the sustainable synthesis of industrial chemicals. In 2023, Stephen was promoted to full Professor and Chair of Chemical Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh.