Deborah Kays - a 1999 bursary student

"For me one of the joys of chemical research is that every day is different, with the analysis of new results and challenges to overcome."

Deborah now lectures at Nottingham

Deborah was a Nuffield summer student in 1999, between the 3rd and 4th year of her undergraduate Chemistry degree at Cardiff University. Her project inversigated the Synthesis of a new ligand framework for attachment to transition metal centres.

"My Nuffield summer project was a great experience for me – it got me really excited about academic research and it confirmed for me that this was what I wanted to do as a career. It gave me the opportunity to learn new chemical techniques that I didn’t have access to in my undergraduate practical classes and I got to experience what it was like to do real academic research. My project was in inorganic chemistry and it involved the synthesis of a new ligand framework for attachment to transition metal centres. I spent the summer working in a laboratory with several postgraduate students and everyone was really friendly – it was a great atmosphere to work in and I knew that if I needed help with something tricky there was always someone around to give me a hand.

"I enjoyed this research so much that after my undergraduate degree I completed my PhD and undertook two years of postdoctoral research in the same research group. After a Fellowship at Merton College, University of Oxford, which gave me the opportunity to begin to establish an independent research career, I am now a Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Nottingham."


Deborah's current area of research interest is the synthesis and study of compounds featuring main group and transition elements in unusual and highly reactive bonding modes. These compounds present a number of challenges; she has to develop new ligand systems to protect the highly reactive element centres and also apply rigorous techniques to ensure that air and moisture are kept away from them. Deborah says,

"For me one of the joys of chemical research is that every day is different, with the analysis of new results and challenges to overcome. I think the most satisfying part of my research is that I get to isolate and analyse compounds that no one has ever seen or studied before.

"I am currently supervising my first Nuffield student, who is researching a project on the stabilisation of low-coordinate transition metal compounds using a new ligand system. I’m hoping that I can encourage the same sort of excitement in research in her that I discovered during my Nuffield project!"