Professor Steve Marsden


I am Professor of Organic Chemistry and currently Head of the School of Chemistry.  I have worked at Leeds since 2001, prior to which I was Senior Lecturer at Imperial College (1994-2001) and a SERC NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University (1993-4).  I have strong interests in the industry-academia interface, holding a Royal Society Industry Fellowship (2008-10) and serving as Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at Leeds (2010-2013).  I currently sit on the EPSRC Capital Strategic Advisory Team (2017-).  


  • Head of School

Research interests

The main focus of our research is in the development of new (mainly catalytic) synthetic methods.  We apply these discoveries in two distinct but related areas: the efficient exploration of chemical space relevant to drug discovery, and the development of 'green' methods for more efficient and sustainable production of high value chemical products.

In the former area, we devise new reaction motifs which allow access to highly 3D small molecules with tightly-controlled molecular properties, for example as lead-like compounds or fragments for screening.  Catalyst development is frequently required to deliver successful outcomes with such polar/Lewis basic compounds.  We make use of computational tools to target our efforts on the most novel and efficient reaction motifs.

In the latter area, we develop and optimise new (catalytic) reactions to achieve highly atom economic and sustainable outcomes.  Recent examples include developments in palladium catalysis (ultra low-loading catalysts), hydrogen transfer chemistry (patented family of highly active/tolerant catalysts) and direct metal-free amination of aromatic rings.  The synergies between chemo- and enzymatic catalysis are also being exploited in our group.


  • PhD (1993, Imperial College)
  • BSc Chemistry (1990, Imperial College)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Student education

I teach undergraduate courses in chemistry and supervise Masters projects for both our MChem and MSc cohorts.

Current postgraduate research students

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our research opportunities allow you to search for projects and scholarships.