Profile: A Chemistry Graduate Scholar

Konstantinos Afratis
Konstantinos Afratis

After I acquired my Chemistry degree and completed my MSc in Synthetic Chemistry at the University of Patras, Greece, I realised that my passion was to expand my knowledge of organic chemistry and to contribute to my science to the best of my abilities, and research was the path that I had to follow. Unfortunately, my options for an active top research environment in my country were too limited.

I decided then to search abroad for a funded research DPhil. Delightfully the University of Oxford accepted me, a world-leading research environment in Chemistry, but funding was the last obstacle. With the implicit help of Merton College, I was able to fulfil my dream. In 2017, I was awarded the Merton College Chemistry Scholarship that fully funded my fees and living expenses. Along with the scholarship, Merton College provided beautiful graduate accommodation in the heart of the city and a warm, multinational, and diverse social environment that makes you feel welcome from the first moment.

In the end, I joined Merton Professor Véronique Gouverneur's research group to work on a project looking at Hydrogen Bonding Phase Transfer Catalysis. The synthesis of organic compounds with specific spatial geometry is a major subject in organic chemistry. My project involves the development of novel organic catalysts (i.e., organic compounds that accelerate a chemical reaction without being consumed) that employ inexpensive starting materials, not usually applied in organic synthesis to date, in order to synthesise organic compounds with exact spatial geometry and pharmaceutical importance.

I am immeasurably thankful to Merton College, because without its economic support none of this would be possible for me.