Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research

Staff Profile

Dr Julian Knight

Senior Lecturer



Dr Knight studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and remained at Cambridge under the supervision of Dr Stuart Warren to obtain his PhD studying the synthesis of vinylisoxazoles as synthons for unsaturated amine derivatives. He then moved to Imperial College to join the group of Prof. Steve Ley as the holder of the Merck, Sharp and Dohm postdoctoral research fellowship. His postdoctoral work included the study of allyltricarbonyliron lactone and lactam complexes, applications to total synthesis, and asymmetric catalysis. He then moved to a lectureship in Organic Chemistry at Newcastle University and since that time has developed projects in synthetic methodology, asymmetric synthesis and chiral catalysis, transition metal mediated reactions, ionic polymers, and fluorescent dyes.  

Roles and Responsibilities

Chairman of the undergraduate Board of Examiners in Chemistry

At University level, Dr Knight is a member of:

The Virtual Learning Environment Steering Group; the ReCap Steering Group; and the UTLC Standing Committee for Programme Approval.

Area of expertise

  • Organic chemistry

ORCID: Click here.


Research Interests

The development of new synthetic methodology.

The design and application of new ligands for asymmetric catalysis.

Development of novel support materials for hetereogeneous catalysis.

Design and synthesis of chiral fluorophores for applications in enantioselective sensing. 

Current Work

We are developing synthetic approaches to heterocycles by gold-catalysed cyclisations and by palladium catalysed carbonylation and cycloaddition chemistry as a route to piperidine and indolizidine alkaloids, imino sugars, piperazine, and isoquinoline targets.

We have an interest in the design of new phosphine ligands for carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom coupling reactions and asymmetric catalysis.

We are interested in preparing novel materials for catalyst immobilization. We are currently investigating the synthesis of ionic liquid-like polymeric supports, their use for a range of oxidation, reduction, and Lewis acid catalysis and applications in flow chemistry.

We are also investigating the synthesis of novel chiral fluorophores for applications in enantioselective sensing.

Industrial Relevance

Our work on catalysis is relevant to industries involved in the synthesis of organic compounds and polymers.


Undergraduate Teaching

I am module leader/course organiser/lecturer for the following:

Stage 1
Basic Organic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry practical course

Stage 2
Group assignment in chemistry or chemistry with medicinal chemistry
Organic Chemistry (stereochemistry)

Stage 3
Advanced practical organic chemistry
Information literacy (database use)

Stage 4
Further organic chemistry
Selectivity and stereocontrol in organic synthesis
Advanced problem solving