Chemistry Speaker Tour 2020-02-04T14:40:40+00:00

2019-20 Chemistry Speaker Tour

Dr. Alison Thompson
Dr. Alison ThompsonDalhousie University


Sep. 25, UNB-F
Oct. 18, SMU

Synthesis and manipulation of pyrrole-containing chemical species

Research in the Thompson lab involves the chemistry of pyrroles.   These five-membered nitrogen-containing aromatic heterocycles form the basis of life courtesy of their roles in heme and chlorophyll.  Recent research involving pyrroles, dipyrroles and tripyrroles will be discussed with a focus on new synthetic methodology and applications in biology.


Dr. Alison Thompson is one of Canada’s foremost scientists in the development of methods for the preparation of pyrrole-containing compounds. She is a Full Professor within the Department of Chemistry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Thompson group has developed unprecedented methodology to remove the –BF2 moiety of F-BODIPYs, thus enabling new photophysical applications and synthetic routes. The Thompson group also pioneered Cl-BODIPYs (containing the –BCl2 unit), a new genre of BODIPYs designed to be facile to substitute at boron, thus expanding the repertoire of BODIPYs in photophysical and biochemical/tagging applications. The Thompson group has recently begun publishing in the field of aza-dipyrrins. Furthermore, as a world leading research group in the synthesis of tripyrrolic prodigiosenes, design strategies have resulted in a construct with 100-fold improvement in selectivity for cancerous tissue vs. healthy tissue. As principal applicant, Alison has held research operating funding from NSERC, CIHR, the Nova Scotia Research Innovation Trust, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and the QEII Hospital Research Fund.

After her B.Sc. (Hons. Class I, University of Leicester, UK), Dr. Thompson received her Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, UK for developing asymmetric catalytic aziridination and epoxidation methodology with Professor Varinder Aggarwal. After a year as a Royal Society/NATO postdoctoral fellow in Strasbourg, France, she joined Professor David Dolphin’s group at the University of British Columbia where she first became involved in chemistry involving pyrroles. Alison began her independent academic career at Dalhousie University in 2001. She has a continuous 19-year funding record from federal agencies, plus charitable and non-profit organizations. Alison was awarded Dalhousie’s 2018 premier awards for graduate supervision and teaching (Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision; Alumni Association Faculty Award of Excellence for Teaching).

Dr. Thompson has led NSERC’s Chemistry Evaluation Group (Discovery Grants) for the past three years, following four years serving as a member and chair of the team. She also serves on a committee that advises NSERC Council and NSERC Vice-Presidents. Last year she led the Organic Chemistry Division of the Canadian Society for Chemistry. Moreover, she leads an NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program Grant involving nine research groups at three institutions conducting research involving bioactive chemical species. Among other volunteer roles, Alison is Chair of the Board of Advisors of SuperNOVA, a non-profit initiative that annually engages >16,000 youth across five provinces in hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with >40% being rural, low-income, new-immigrant, African Canadian, Indigenous or hospitalized youth. Alison’s conviction that everyone has a right to access learning underpins her approach to educational leadership. Alison is a person who stutters.

Dr. Marya Ahmed
Dr. Marya AhmedUniversity of Prince Edward Island


Sept. 30, MtA
Nov. 7, CBU

Novel Biomaterials for Health Applications

The advances in the material science and engineering has enabled the development of innovative biomaterials for the range of health applications such as synthesis of drug delivery carriers for drug resistant disorders, engineering biocompatible scaffolds for tissue constructs and the development of composite materials as water purification technologies. The physiochemical properties of these synthetic biomaterials are well-known to impact their biological applications. In comparison to naturally existing biomaterials, the facile synthesis of polymeric materials and their self-assembly into different shapes, sizes and molecular weights, provide an excellent platform to tune the biological properties of synthetic carriers, as a function of the molecular weight, architecture, and composition of polymers. The research interests in Ahmed group are focused on the development of novel, biologically inspired, materials (polymers, nanoparticles, composites and hydrogels) for delivery of small molecule drugs to overcome drug resistant bacterial infections. We are specifically working on the synthesis of vitamin B5 functionalized polymeric biomaterials, their nanoparticles and hydrogels and are investigating their antifouling and antibacterial efficacies to overcome drug resistant bacterial anomalies in vitro. Other projects in Ahmed laboratory focus on the development of FDA approved colloidal carriers for co-delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs in cancer tissues.


Dr. Marya Ahmed is an Assistant Professor in Department of Chemistry and Faculty of Sustainable Design and Engineering at University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. She acquired her Ph.D in Chemical Engineering, from University of Alberta, Canada, with expertise in synthesis of polymeric vectors for gene delivery. She worked as postdoctoral fellow, in the Department of Chemical Engineering at California Institute of Technology USA, and at University of Toronto, Canada. Her interdisciplinary research interests overlap the fields of biomaterials (polymers, peptide and nanoparticles) synthesis and evaluation of their anticancer and antibacterial efficacies in vitro and in vivo, in murine cancer models.

Past Chemistry Speaker Tours