Nicholas J. Race, Ph.D., joins Department of Chemistry faculty
Nicholas "Nick" J. Race, Ph.D., is joining the Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor, starting in the fall of 2018. At Minnesota, Professor Race’s research interests lie broadly in the area of asymmetric catalysis and reaction mechanism. The overall goal of his research projects will be to develop new methodologies for the synthesis of medicinally-relevant ‘3D’ scaffolds. Mechanistic investigation will closely accompany new reaction development such that a deep understanding of the transformation is obtained and the acquired knowledge applied in new synthetic directions.
Currently, Nick is a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Utah, working with Professor Matthew Sigman on the enantioselective, intermolecular coupling of oxygen nucleophiles and alkenes. This work has resulted in the first highly enantioselective ‘Wacker-type’ oxidation of allylic alcohols.
Nick was born in London in 1987, but grew up in the city of Leicester in the East Midlands. He attended Leicester Grammar School where his interest in chemistry, was inspired by an engaging chemistry teacher. In 2006, Nick began his undergraduate studies in chemistry at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. As part of his degree, he undertook a final year research project with Professor Timothy Donohoe exploring olefin cross metathesis as a method for the synthesis of substituted pyrroles, for which he was awarded the Brian Bannister Prize for "best final year project thesis." In 2010, Nick received a First Class MChem degree. Additional to his studies, Nick was also organ scholar at St. Edmund Hall and performed in numerous recitals on both the organ and piano throughout his time in Oxford.
He earned his doctorate in organic chemistry in 2015 from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom (UK). Under the tutelage of Professor John Bower, Nick worked on the development of aza-Heck cyclizations for the synthesis of chiral nitrogen heterocycles. He was also a member of the Bristol Chemical Synthesis Centre for Doctoral Training and received a Faculty of Science Commendation for his graduate work. During graduate school, Nick was awarded a prestigious national SCI Messel-Grey scholarship as well as first prize at the 25th SCI postgraduate symposium on novel organic chemistry. Nick was one of the Bower’s first students and hopes to create a comparably stimulating and enjoyable working environment for his own lab.
Beyond his own research, Nick has always enjoyed interacting with and guiding the younger group members. He likes to engage regularly with them at the blackboard to discuss reaction mechanisms in an effort to build their knowledge of the chemical literature and solve their research problems.
Outside the lab, Nick is an accomplished pianist and organist. He has performed in many concerts in the United Kingdom, including performing two Mozart Piano concertos with the Leicestershire Sinfonia. He has also been privileged to play for services in many cathedrals around the UK, notably Bath Abbey, Wells Cathedral and Gloucester Cathedral.
He is glad that the Twin Cities offers a wide variety of music-related activities to explore and is excited to get up and running at the University of Minnesota!