The Group

Ortu Group – Spring 2022

From left to right: Yuqing Shao, Yu Liu, Kale Cooke, Hannah Redmill, Fabrizio Ortu, Matthew Stevens and Alex Bowles.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Yu ‘Archie’ Liu (2022-present)
Yu Liu (Archie) is from Xi’an, an ancient capital city, in middle of P. R. China. He studied chemistry at Northwest University and graduated in 2013. He then undertook his postgraduate studies at both Northwest University and the University of Nottingham, obtaining master degree in 2015. He then joined Prof. Deborah Kays group as a Ph.D. student, focusing on the synthesis, characterisation and reactivity of low-coordinate first row transition metal complexes. Currently, he is working on the stabilisation of subvalent Group 2 complexes and low-oxidation lanthanide complexes in the Ortu Group.

Archie is a keen cyclist and his lifetime ambition is to join the Tour de France cycling race (without taking any performance enhancing drugs). He also likes to go to Germany to visit his family.

PhD students

Yuqing ‘Alex’ Shao (2021-2024)
Yuqing (Alex) hails from Shenyang, northeast China. She gained her master’s degree in physical chemistry in 2021 from the Dalian University of Technology, where she mainly focused on the design and functionalization of metal-organic amine catalysts and their photocatalytic application in small molecule reduction. Before that, she studied polymer science as an undergraduate at Northeast Forestry University in Harbin. She joined the group in 2021 to study Ce photocatalysis funded through a Dalian-Leicester CSC scholarship.

In her spare time, Alex likes playing badminton and climbing sometimes. She also pretends to love skateboard but still can’t do any cool tricks other than sliding. Her other hobbies include planting avocados and watching Modern Family over and over again.

Alex Bowles (2020-2024)
Alex carried out his final year MChem project in the group and graduated from the University of Leicester in 2020. He then returned for his PhD studies to work on low oxidation state alkaline earth and lanthanide chemistry. Alex’s main goal of his project is to maximise his contributions to the group, even if that is just showing the others the best pubs in town.

Alex hails from Baldock in North Hertforshire. Away from the lab, Alex has been a keen rugby player since a young age, formerly playing for the University on a Wednesday and still watching Tigers lose on a Saturday. Alex is also an enthusiastic home-brewer and brings a bit of chemistry into his kitchen at home for his weekend brews, thus making him a very popular addition to the group.

Matthew Stevens (2019-2023)
Matthew was born and bred in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames, part of Greater London. He studied chemistry at the University of York, graduating in 2019. He moved to Leicester for his PhD studies in synergic main group/lanthanide chemistry, which brings things to the present day. 

Matthew has a keen interest in all chemical synthesis, and has been known to dabble in hobby chemistry since starting secondary school. Achievements in this regard include preparing crude potassium cuprate(III) and extracting vanadium metal from its ore. Away from the academic front, Matthew enjoys Marvel films and reading sci-fi books, but also hiking on the Yorkshire moors or North Downs.

Undergraduate MChem students

Kale Cooke (2021-2022)
Kale is currently doing his final year MChem project working on Group 2 alkylidenes together with Matthew. After a long time away from the lab because of the pandemic, Kale is particularly enjoying hands-on chemistry and is taking Schlenk line chemistry like a duck to water (or dry THF, better). Kale is a Leicester man born and bred. He enjoys exploring the great outdoors doing wild trail-running and biking. He is also a big football fan, and can often be found watching non-league games somewhere in Leicestershire, occasionally celebrating a big upset in the early stages of the FA cup.

Hannah Redmill (2021-2022)
Hannah hails from Lincoln and is doing her final year MChem project alongside Alex, working on low oxidation state alkaline earth metallocene complexes. She has particularly enjoyed learning different aspects of inorganic chemistry in her degree so far, which is quite convenient since she ended up doing an organometallic chemistry project! Outside of studies, Hannah’s main interests are running, playing tennis as well as watching. Hannah is also a keen home baker and chef, where she aims to introduce a bit of kitchen chemistry into her recipes.

Group Alumni

Emily Spray – MChem student (2020/21)

Sara Pischedda – Erasmus+ visiting student (2020)

Group pictures

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