Professor Véronique Gouverneur FRS - Photo © Stephen Cannon

Professor Véronique Gouverneur FRS

Fellow and Tutor in Organic Chemistry

Véronique Gouverneur has been a Tutor and Fellow at Merton since 1998. She was born and brought up in Belgium, and did her undergraduate degree and doctorate at the Université catholique de Louvain. After two years as a postdoc at the Scripps Institute in California, she returned in 1994 to Europe – specifically France – where she worked at the Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg.

Véronique’s independent research career began when she came to Oxford in 1998 as a member of the Chemistry Faculty. That was also the start of her connection with Merton, where she is Fellow and Tutor in Organic Chemistry. She became Professor of Chemistry in 2008.

Her research focuses on fluorination chemistry, which lies at the interface of chemistry and medicine. She is working on new approaches to synthesising fluorinated molecules, which have many applications in medicine, including in pharmaceutical drugs and non-invasive probes for imaging.

The list of Véronique’s achievements is too long to reproduce in full, although we have selected a few. She has coordinated European projects under the Innovative Training Networks scheme, and has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and ten patents to her name. She has won numerous prizes and distinctions, the first being the AstraZeneca Research Award for organic chemistry in 2005. She was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in 2010, and received the RSC Tilden Prize in 2016 for her interdisciplinary work in organofluorine chemistry and radiochemistry, and for the impact of her discoveries in medicine. She was awarded the Tetrahedron Chair in 2016, and was elected a Member of the European Academy of Sciences (EURASC) in 2017. In 2019, she was awarded the Prelog Medal of the Laboratorium für Organische Chemie at ETH Zürich, the RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

In 2018, Véronique was awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant for her research – grants that are only awarded to ‘exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions’. This is confirmation, if any is needed, of the fact that Véronique has a very active and productive research group, with numerous postdocs and DPhil students.

Merton & Me

Thinking of the first day you walked through the Merton Lodge arch, what was your first impression?

An immense sense of harmony and responsibility.

Do you have a particular memory that stands out from your time at Merton?

The palatability of Merton history during the installation ceremony of our Warden.

Tell us something about yourself that we would not know.

How humble I feel surrounded by the wonders and strength of the natural world.

What tips would you give your younger self to prepare for the career you have achieved?

Be true to yourself, be passionate, be persistent and most importantly be grateful.

Describe Merton in three words.

Intellectual; visionary; supportive.

A lecture by Professor Véronique Gouverneur FRS

Professor Gouverneur gave an online talk, part of our 40 Years Series of lectures, on Thursday 15 April 2021. Her subject was, 'Fluorine: The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected'. At the request of Professor Gouverneur the lecture was not recorded.