Michael Findlater


Michael was raised in a small village just outside of Glasgow, Scotland. He chose to study chemistry at The University of Strathclyde, where he carried out his honors thesis research in asymmetric catalysis under the supervision of Dr Mark Spicer. His studies at Strathclyde included a one-year appointment as the recipient of the Merck Industrial Studentship and conducted research in the organic electronics division. His mentor, Professor Iain McCulloch, has since moved to a position at Imperial College London.

Feeling a need for sunnier climes, Michael pursued his graduate degree at The University of Texas at Austin under the tutelage of Professor Alan H. Cowley. Under Professor Cowley’s guidance, Michael explored a wide range of topics of relevance to main group chemistry and co-authored 22 papers as a result of his work. During his stay in Austin Michael developed a deep affinity for the many quirks of American and Texan life. Thus, he chose to remain in the US for his post-doctoral appointment, and in the summer of 2008 he moved to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael’s post-doc was carried out in the group of Professor Maurice Brookhart and was focused, primarily, on the activation of inert C-H bonds using late transition metal catalysts. Michael helped develop a fundamentally new approach to the synthesis of aromatic molecules from cheap, abundant, linear alkanes. Moreover, these transformations could be achieved catalytically, selectively and under mild conditions.

These experiences have helped to foster Michael’s approach to chemistry, which seeks to combine aspects of organic, inorganic, organometallic and materials chemistry research in the development of new catalysts for C-H bond activation and functionalization.