Nigel Simpkins obtained a First Class BSc in chemistry at Imperial College London in 1980, and then stayed on to do his PhD with Steven Ley, which involved the total synthesis of the insect antifeedant ajugarin I. He then spent one year in Philadelphia conducting postdoctoral studies with Professor K. C. Nicolaou in the area of complex natural product synthesis, particularly the chemistry of the important antifungal agent amphoterocin B.
On returning to the UK in 1984, Nigel secured a ‘New Blood’ appointment as a lecturer at Queen Mary College, London, and commenced his independent research in organic chemistry, focused on chiral lithium amide base chemistry.
In 1988 Nigel moved to the School of Chemistry at The University of Nottingham, where he was able to develop his diverse research interests in chiral base chemistry, sulfur chemistry, radical reactions and natural product synthesis, and was promoted to Reader in 1995 and then to a personal chair in 1996.
In 2007 Nigel moved to Birmingham to take up the Haworth Chair of Chemistry.