• 3.09 Chemistry

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PhD and PDRA Applications. Feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas as well as alternative sources of funding. I am happy to help potential students and PDRAs who are keen / would like to secure their own funding for new research. Start by sending me an e-mail with your cv and two references.


  • Dr Bew attended the Department of Chemistry and graduated from the University of Leicester with a BSc in Chemistry.
  • He subsequently moved to the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol where he undertook his PhD under the supervision of Professor J. B. Sweeney on the synthesis of organotin derived 3-sulpholenes, their cheletropic properties and cycloaddition chemistry.
  • Upon completion of his PhD he took up four postdoctoral positions at the:
  • University of Bath in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Here he researched the development and testing of 2-nitroimidazole-derived decaborane's and their application in Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) as anticancer agents. Subsequently he moved to the
  • University of Nottingham working in the School of Chemistry as well as the
  • University of Wales, College of Cardiff in the School of Chemistry both positions were working with Professor D. W. Knight on the development of new synthetic methods associated with natural product synthesis, more specifically the  boron containing macrocyclic antibiotic Aplasmomycin which has interesting antimalarial biological activity. Finally at the
  • University of Oxford in the Dyson Perrins Laboratory working with Professor Stephen G. Davies in asymmetric synthesis associated with solution- and solid-phase chiral non-racemic auxilaries probing their different reactivity and chemistry. Whilst at Oxford he also worked with Yamanouchi Pharmaceuticals on the development of new medicinal modalities for volume regulated chloride channel bioactivity generated using solid-phase chemistry and chemical robots.
  • He took up his current position in the School of Chemistry at UEA in October 2000 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2008.

Selected publications

1. S. P. Bew, P. Pesce, M. Pitak, S. M. Thurston, D. U. Bahera, V. Zdorichenko, G. D. Hiatt-Gipson, S. J. Coles

"Dial Up and Lock In": Asymmetric organo-Brønsted acid catalysis incorporating stable isotopesCHEM 2016, 1, 921


2. S. P. Bew, J. Liddle, D. L.Hughes, P. Pesce, S. M. Thurston

Chiral Brønsted acid-catalysed asymmetric synthesis of N-aryl-cis-aziridine carboxylate esters, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 5322

DOI:  rg/10.1002/anie.201611990

3. S. P. Bew, S. J. Coles, M. B. Pitak, W. T. Klooster, P. A. Ashford and V. Zdorichenko

Generating cis-aza-diaryl and triaryl ethers via organoBrønsted acid catalysed aza-Darzens chemistry, Tetrahedron 2019, 75, 130532


4. S. P. Bew, G. R. Stephenson, J. Rouden, J. Godemert, H. Seylani,, L. A. Martinez-Lozano

Gaining insight into reactivity differences between malonic acid half thioesters & malonic acid half oxyesters, Chemistry - A European Journal 2017, 23, 4557


5. S. P. Bew, G. R. Stephenson, J. Rouden, P.-A. Ashford, M. Bourane, A. Charvet, V. M. D. Dalstein, R. Jauseau, G. D. Hiatt-Gipson, L. A. Martinez-Lozano

Bioinspired, base- & metal-free, mild decarboxylative Aldol activation of malonic acid half thioesters under phase-transfer reaction conditions, Adv. Syn. Cat. 2015, 357, 1245


6. S. P. Bew, V. Dalla, C. Taillier, O. Songis, M. Michalska

Synergistic gold(I)/trimethylsilyl catalysis: Efficient alkynylation of N,O-acetals & related pro-electrophiles, Adv. Syn. Cat. 2014, 356, 2040


7. S. P. Bew, G. R. Stephenson, J. Rouden, H. Seylani, L. A. Martinez-Lozano

Malonic acid half oxyesters & thioesters: Solvent-free synthesis & DFT analysis of their enols, Org. Lett. 2013, 15, 3805



Academic Background

  • BSc, Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Leicester,
  • PhD, Organic Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol,
  • PDRA, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath,
  • PDRA, School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham,
  • PDRA, School of Chemistry, University of Cardiff,
  • PDRA, Dyson Perrins Laboratory, Oxford University.

Key Research Interests

Our research interests are broad and have in common the development and application of synthetic organic chemistry for the formation of, quite often, new and unusual chemical entities. To facilitate and enable this process we utilise state-of-the-art chemical techniques, equipment and protocols. One of our aims is to make our chemistry accessible and relatively simple to execute. Furthermore we try and exemplify our reactions using structure and function diverse substrates hopefully demonstrating as broadly as possible the scope of a particular reaction. Where possible we report substrates that have failed to react, this is often useful allowing potential users to gauge if an unknown substrate is likely to work for them.

One particular area of interest to us is the development of new synthetic methodologies that allow the efficient, atom-economic, organocatalytic formation of small strained heterocycles called aziridines. Here we have developed several routes to chiral racemic and chiral non-racemic aziridines. As well as further optimising these towards more diverse substrates our attention is also focused on utilising this methodology for the total synthesis of several natural product derived glycopeptide antibiotics for example vancomycin and analogs of vancomycin. In conjunction with these studies the chemical exploitation of our aziridine methodology for the synthesis of alternative heterocyclic motifs is currently under way as is gaining an in depth understanding of the mechanism associated with the asymmetric synthesis of the aziridines.

A second area of considerable research effort within our group is the efficient construction of calixarenes appended, principally on the upper-rim, with diverse chemical and functional groups. At the core of this is the design and synthesis of new molecular materials, which allow us to explore their properties relating these to their structure. Aspects of this work focus on using supramolecular chemistry and catalysis for the construction of man-made biomachines that mimic, for example, enzymes. Of particular interest to us is the formation of a ‘synthetic’ calixarene-derived polyketide synthase, a very large enzyme that, ordinarily, is used by Nature for secondary metabolite formation.

Our interest in calixarene chemistry has expanded into its potential use as a sensitive sensor for gold. Employing a series of specific transformations we have been able to generate a series of structure and function diverse calixarenes that demonstrate the viability of appending specific chemical handles onto the upper-rim of a calixarene allowing the new species to specifically ‘sense’ gold, even in the presence of contaminating salts from Group 1, 2 or even metals that are chemically very similar to gold, for example platinum and mercury.

Trøgers base is an interesting, readily generated bicyclic heterocycle with a well-defined V-shaped, relatively rigid 90° conformational bias. Albeit it has been known for over 125 years it has only recently been the subject of close scrutiny undergoing chemical manipulation and investigation. We are interested in further extending these studies. Thus we have initiated a research effort that aims to exploit its unusual conformational bias probing its potential in biology and medicinal chemistry, as well as investigating its utility as a conformationally bound linker within supramolecular chemistry.

Key Responsibilities

  • School of Chemistry library representative
  • Organic safety officer
  • Chair of mass spectrometry committee

Academic Background

  • BSc, Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Leicester
  • PhD, Organic Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol
  • PDRA, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath
  • PDRA, School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham,
  • PDRA, School of Chemistry, University of Cardiff,
  • PDRA, Dyson Perrins Laboratory, Oxford University

Administrative Posts

  • School of Chemistry library representative
  • Organic safety officer
  • Chair of mass spectrometry committee


  • Chemistry
  • Organic synthesis
  • Organocatalysis
  • Supramolecular chemistry
  • Natural product synthesis
  • Calixarene chemistry
  • Reaction methodology
  • Stable isotope chemistry
  • MALDI biodetection
  • Heterocyclic chemistry
  • Aziridines

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or