Dr. Rebecca Melen

Cardiff University,

Clara Immerwahr Awardee 2016

Academic Background

Awardee Rebecca Melen © TU Berlin / Pressestelle / Jacek Ruta
Rebecca Melen and Chair of UniCat Matthias Driess © TU Berlin / Pressestelle / Jacek Ruta

Dr. Melen completed her BA and MSci degrees (1st class) at the University of Cambridge. After an internship at Johnson Matthey, she was awarded a PhD in 2012 (supervisor Prof. Dominic Wright, Cambridge) for her doctoral thesis entitled "Catalytic Versus Stoichiometric Dehydrocoupling Reactions Using Main Group Metals" which described the use of p-block bases in E-E and E-Eʹ bond formation through stoichiometric and catalytic dehydrocoupling reactions of E-H bonds. She continued on to become a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Douglas Stephan at the University of Toronto where she investigated the 'click' chemistry of boron azides and pioneered the use of electron deficient main group compounds to promote the intramolecular (catalytic) cyclisation of propargyl amides and esters. In 2013, she was awarded a Humboldt Fellowship to work with Prof. Lutz Gade at the University of Heidelberg where she gained additional expertise in main group catalysis, prior to her current lectureship at Cardiff University (2014). She was awarded the RSC Dalton Young Researcher Award (2013) for her PhD research on Main Group Catalysis which was followed by the European Young Researchers Award (2014) for her PhD and post-doctoral research in Main Group Chemistry.

Dr. Melen's significant contributions to the field of main group chemistry and catalysis have been reflected in a series of invited talks (36), contributed book chapters (5) and publications (29), including 11 as corresponding author, demonstrating her growing international reputation. In addition, she is Guest Editor (joint with Prof. Douglas Stephan) for a forthcoming themed issue of Dalton Transactions on Main Group Transformations.


On an industrial scale the use of catalysts to lower activation energies for chemical transformations is becoming of increasing importance. As a result, a multitude of transition metal catalysts have been developed for a diverse range of transformations. Recently however, there has been a surge in interest in the catalytic properties of main group elements. The development of main group alternatives to conventional transition metal catalysts is an emerging 'hot topic'. Research in the Melen group focuses on the use of main group Lewis acids and bases in organic synthesis and catalysis. The research programme includes:

• Main group catalyst design.

• Applications of main group Lewis acids and bases in organic synthesis and catalytic processes.

• Frustrated Lewis Pair (FLP) Chemistry.

• Mechanistic studies to determine reaction pathways.

2151 BArF3-Catalyzed Imine Hydroboration with Pinacolborane Not Requiring the Assistance of an Additional Lewis Base Q. Yin, Y. Soltani, R. L. Melen, M. Oestreich Organometallics 2017, 36, 2381–2384, 10.1021/acs.organomet.7b00381

The Clara Immerwahr Award 2016 was sponsored by