Prof Jim Anderson

Prof Jim Anderson

Alexander Williamson Professor of Chemistry

Dept of Chemistry

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2009

Research summary

My research group is broadly focused on the development of new asymmetric carbon-carbon bond forming reactions and their application to the target synthesis of biologically active heterocycles. Our current major research interest is in the development of near infrared bioluminescence for deep tissue multiparametric imaging. We have developed the nitro-Mannich reaction and the aza-[2,3]-Wittig sigmatropic rearrangement for the synthesis of chiral building blocks and showcased their use in the synthesis of chiral heterocycles and biologically active natural products. I have previously investigated the use of circularly polarized light in asymmetric synthesis, catalytic alkene forming reactions with metal oxo complexes, the conversion of CO2 into fine chemicals and the design of chiral ligands for asymmetric catalysis.

Teaching summary

I have taught across all areas of organic chemistry, to all degree levels, throughout my career.

I currently teach a 10 lecture course to 3rd year students on Palladium in Organic Synthesis. Every year I cover one or two more lecture courses of my colleagues, who are on sabbatical leave due to the rotation system I instigated in the Organic section.

From 2016 I have run the 3rd year undergraduate Synthesis laboratory which I designed and implemented with my colleague Dr Helen Allan.

I tutor second year Organic Chemistry Students.

I became a Senior Fellow of The Higher Education Academy in Oct 2015.


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow |
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ01 - Successfully completed an institutional provision in teaching in the HE sector | 1993
University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1990
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma of the Imperial College | 1990
University of London
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1987


I was born and bred in the Fen and through the inspiration of my chemistry teacher, Dr S.A. Cotton, and my 3 uncles, all of whom studied Chemistry at the University of Nottingham, I became interested in Chemistry. I graduated with a BSc(Hons) from Imperial College in 1987 and was awarded the Neil Arnott prize from the University of London. I stayed at IC to do my PhD with Professor Steve Ley on the Synthesis of Insect Antifeedants and was awarded the Edmund White research prize in 1990 (shared with Alan Armstrong). I secured a postdoctoral fellowship from The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to stay a further year with Prof Ley, before securing a SERC/NATO postdoctoral research fellowship to work with Professor Dave Evans at Harvard University, USA (1991-3). I was appointed to a lectureship in Chemistry at the University of Sheffield in 1993. In 1998 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer and obtained an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship. I moved to a Readership at the University of Nottingham in 1999 and was promoted to a personal chair in 2003. In 2009 I moved to my present position at UCL, Alexander Williamson Professor of Chemistry. I was head of Organic Chemistry 2009-2017.