Editor’s Collection: Meet the authors – Sperry and Devlin

In this month’s Editor’s Collection, Associate Editor Christian Hackenberger highlighted ‘The curious yellow colouring matter of the Iceland poppy’ by Jonathan Sperry and Rory Devlin as one of his personal favourite recent Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry articles. Here, we catch up with the authors to find out a little bit more about their interest and research in the area

Rory Devlin (Left) and Jonathan Sperry (Right)

Introducing the researchers:

Rory Devlin received a BSc (Hons) from The University of Auckland in 2017. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD at the same institution under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Jonathan Sperry, exploring novel biomimetic rearrangements towards the synthesis of alkaloid natural products.


Jonathan Sperry completed his Ph.D at the University of Exeter, working on the biomimetic synthesis with Professor Chris Moody. After postdoctoral research with Dame Margaret Brimble FRS at the University of Auckland, he was appointed to a lectureship at the same institution in 2009. Jon was a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellow from 2014-2019.


What inspired you to write this review?

Our interest in the nudicaulins was mainly from a synthetic perspective and in particular, validating the unique cascade process in their proposed biosynthesis. We were surprised nobody had written about the nudicaulins before, especially given their fascinating history.


What experimental research are you carrying out in the area?

We are using the nudicaulin structure as a lead for drug discovery – the synthetic route to the natural product is very amenable to analogue design. We are also collaborating with Professor Bernd Schneider at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology to better understand the role and distribution of the nudicaulins.


How do you hope this review will inspire future study?

Synthetic chemists’ interest in natural products is generally focused on structure and bioactivity, but this is just the tip of the iceberg – there is so much more to learn and the nudicaulins are a great example. When we choose a natural product for synthesis studies, we now aim to understand why the organism produces the compound which has has led to some great collaborations and research projects I would have never had imagined being involved in a few years ago.


Read the full article: The curious yellow colouring matter of the Iceland poppy


See the other articles showcased in this month’s Editor’s Collection

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