Dr Richard Grainger BSc, PhD

Dr Richard S Grainger

School of Chemistry
Associate Professor in Organic Chemistry

Contact details

School of Chemistry
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Richard Grainger is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry, where he carries out research in, and teaches, organic chemistry. His research is focused on the development of new synthetic methods and strategies, and their application in the synthesis of organic molecules of biological or structural interest, particularly natural products. He also has an ongoing interest in organosulfur and other organochalcogen (Se, Te) chemistry.

Richard has published original research papers in leading chemistry journals, including the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Angewandte Chemie. He has received major grants from EPSRC and the Leverhulme Trust, including the award of an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship 2005-2010.

Richard has given over 75 presentations of his research at conferences, chemical companies and Universities across the globe. He has supervised and co-supervised 24 PhD students and 4 MSc/MPhil students through to graduation from his research group. He has acted as external examiner to more than 60 PhD and MSc/MPhil research theses in the UK and abroad


  • PhD in Organic Chemistry, University of Sheffield, 1996
  • BSc (Hons) Chemistry, University of Sheffield, 1992


Richard graduated with a BSc in Chemistry (1st class Hons) from the University of Sheffield, UK. He carried out his PhD research at the same institution under the supervision of Prof. Varinder Aggarwal, now at the University of Bristol. After two years postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago, working with Prof. Viresh Rawal, he returned to the UK to take up an independent academic position at the Department of Chemistry, King’s College London. In September 2005 he moved to the School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham, as a lecturer in Chemistry. From 2005-2010 he additionally held the position of EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow. He is currently an Associate Professor.


Richard is currently teaching the following chemistry courses:

  • Year 3 Core Organic Chemistry : Main group elements in Organic Synthesis.
  • Year 3 Core Organic Chemistry: Metals in Organic Chemistry.
  • Year 4 Organic Chemistry: Total Synthesis of Natural Products

Postgraduate supervision

Richard is interested in supervising postgraduate students in the following areas:

  • Natural product synthesis
  • Free radical reactions
  • Organochalcogen (S, Se, Te) chemistry
  • Synthetic organic photochemistry and photocatalysis
  • Peri- and bay-interactions
  • Enzyme mimetics (FeFe hydrogenase and glutathione peroxidase)
  • Peptide mimetics
  • Medicinal chemistry

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.


Work in the Grainger group is centred on the development of new synthetic methods and strategies, and their application in the synthesis of organic molecules of biological or structural interest. Chemistry we are developing includes the use of reactive intermediates such as radicals and carbenes, photochemistry, cycloaddition reactions and organosulfur and other organochalcogen (Se, Te) chemistry. We also have an active interest in the use of 1,8-peri-substituted naphthalenes and related compounds for the generation and stabilization of reactive functionalities. As part of this research programme, we have recently developed a method for the 4,5-bay-functionalisation of carbazoles, of interest in organic materials.

We collaborate with University of Birmingham scientists within the School of Chemistry (Dr Paul Davies on gold-catalysed transformations of organosulfur compounds, Dr Sarah Horswell for electrochemistry measurements, Professor Jim Tucker on DNA and nitroxyl generation) and in the School of Pharmacy (Professor Nicholas Barnes, Dr Isolda Romero-Canelón, Dr Sam Butterworth (now at the University of Manchester)) on medicinal chemistry). Internationally we have collaborated with Professor Steve Bottle (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) on nitroxide radicals, and with Professor Antonella Capperucci and Dr Damiano Tanini (University of Florence, Italy) on glutathione peroxidase mimics.

Other activities

  • 2013-present: Editorial Board Member, Journal of Sulfur Chemistry.
  • 2014-2019: RSC Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group Committee.
  • July 2009-July 2012: Member of RSC Organic Division Council.
  • 2011, 2012: J-NOST-7 and J-NOST-8 selection panel.
  • 2012: Organizing committee, RSC Organic Division Poster Symposium, 3 Dec 2012.
  • Organizer of RSC Organic Chemistry Midlands Meeting, University of Birmingham, 23 April 2009.
  • EPSRC Panel member, 2018, 2014, 2010.
  • Member of EPSRC College since 2006.
  • Member of Young Chemists’ Panel, Society of Chemical Industry, February 2002 – December 2005. Secretary April 2003 – December 2005.
  • Exhibitor at Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, Summer 2002.


Recent publications

View all publications in research portal