Miller Group

Aisling Ní Cheallaigh undertook a BSc. In Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology at University College Dublin (UCD) and graduated with first class honours. Upon receipt of a prestigious IRCSET scholarship she began her postgraduate studies through which she obtained a Ph.D. in Synthetic Carbohydrate Chemistry with Prof Stefan Oscarson. Following completion of her PhD she moved to the University of Manchester to the labs of Prof Nigel Scrutton and Dr John Gardiner and carried out a 2 year PDRA position in organic synthesis of monoterpenoid derivatives for use in a synthetic biology programme. She then spent a year in industry as a Senior Scientist in Chemical Development at AstraZeneca. She has recently returned to academia to a PDRA position with Prof. Stefan Oscarson at University College Dublin working on the synthesis of human and bacterial oligosaccharides.

Research Group

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Ren photo
Dr Imlirenla Pongener

Ren is from Nagaland, India. She completed her BSc from Christ University Bangalore, India. In 2014, she moved to Dublin, Ireland to do an MSc in Chemistry from University College Dublin during which she carried out a research project on organocatalysis in the McGarrigle group. She then pursued her PhD in the McGarrigle group and her work focused on Methodology Development for Stereoselective Glycosylations. After completing her PhD in 2019, she continued as a PDRA in the McGarrigle group during which she worked on Beta-Mannosylations.

PhD students

4th Year

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Mieke Guinan

Mieke was born in Dublin, Ireland where she undertook a B.A. in Medicinal Chemistry in Trinity College, University of Dublin. Her research interests centre on the early drug discovery process, particularly synthetic medicinal chemistry. Her final year project involved the design of two families of analogous piperidine and piperazine guanidinium compounds as potential therapeutics against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, microbial assays of these compounds and subsequent analysis of the SAR. Mieke joined the group in September 2017 where she is focusing on a project involving the design and synthesis of nucleoside analogues to target viral diseases.

3rd Year

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Caecilie Benckendorff

Caecilie is from Aarhus, Denmark. She moved to the UK in 2010, and began her studies at the University of Aberdeen in 2013, where she graduated in 2018 with a first class MChem degree. Her final year MChem project was undertaken at the University of Bergen, which involved the synthesis for ligands for riboswitches – a newly discovered novel target for antibiotics. During her project, she successfully synthesised the compound Ribocil C, and one analogue. Caecilie joined the group in September 2018, where her research focus on the design and synthesis of nucleoside analogues.

2nd Year

Jack Porter

Jack is from Burnley, Lancashire and studied at Sheffield Hallam University where he graduated in 2019 with a MChem degree. His final year research project focused on the design and synthesis of third generation photosensitisers for use in photodynamic therapy, with the aim of overcoming current drawbacks such as limited bioavailability. This involved the synthesis of A3B type porphyrins that allow for conjugation of property enhancing ligands. Jack joined the group in September 2019, where his research will focus on the synthesis of modified glucose building blocks for biopolymer assembly, in conjunction with CRODA.

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Alice Wahart

Alice is from Poitiers (France) and studied at the University of Orléans where she graduated in 2019 with a Masters degree in Molecular Chemistry. Her final Masters project was undertaken at the University of St Andrews (Scotland), which involved the synthesis of the 1,4-thiazine by flash vacuum pyrolysis – this molecule has never been reproduced since its discovery in 1948 by C. Barkendus and P.S. Landis (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1948, 70, 684-685). Alice joined the group in October 2019, where her research will focus on the synthesis of modified mannose building blocks for polymer assembly, in conjunction with CRODA.

1st Year

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Hannah Wootton

Hannah is from Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire where she obtained a first class MChem degree from Keele University in 2019. At Keele, she undertook a final year research project which focused on the chemical synthesis of a non-self sugar-nucleotide tool for probing a bacterial biosynthesis enzyme. After graduation, she spent a year in industry as an Associate Scientist at Cyprotex where she planned and conducted ADME assays for compounds in the preclinical stages of pharmaceutical drug discovery. Hannah joined the group in September 2020 where her research focus investigates the chemical synthesis of oligosaccharide targets alongside new ligation technologies for their conjugation to fluorophores.

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Conor O'Shea

Conor is from Cavan, Ireland. He studied in University College Dublin where he graduated in 2020 with a B.A. of science majoring in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His final year research project involved synthesising catalysts in order to obtain more stereoselective control in glycosylation reactions.

Sean Evans

Sean is from Liverpool and studied Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, graduating in 2018. He returned to St Andrews to complete an MSc (Res) advancing a synthesis towards the communesin natural products. Sean joined the group in January 2021 where his research will focus on using chemoenzymatic approaches to explore polysaccharide structure-property relationships, in conjunction with Unilever.

MChem 2020

Jamie Payton Chemical synthesis of a fluorinated glucosyl ceramide

Lorna Scholl Chemical synthesis of a fluorinated nucleoside analogue precursor

Group Alumni


Dr Meenakshi Singh
PDRA (2020-2021) working on oligosaccharide synthesis.

Dr Aisling Ní Cheallaigh
PDRA (2017-2019) working on the synthesis of oligosaccharide targets. Visiting researcher from Stefan Oscarson's group at UCD. Now Research Fellow at Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub, MIB.

Dr Sanaz Ahmadipour
EPSRC funded PDRA (2016-2019) working on the synthesis of sugar-nucleotide analogues. Now PDRA with Rob Field @ MIB.


Dr Laura Beswick PhD (2016-2019), Chemoenzymatic synthesis of sugar-nucleotide analogues: tools to probe a strategic dehydrogenase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Now Research Scientist at ThermoFischer.

Dr Eleni Dinitriou PhD (2016-2019), Chemical synthesis of modified D-mannuronate building blocks: prospects for modified alginates. Now Research Scientist at Aptuit/Evotech UK.



Jamie Payton (MChem) Chemical synthesis of a fluorinated glucosyl ceramide

Lorna Scholl (MChem) Chemical Synthesis of Precursors Towards the Synthesis of Fluorinated Carbocyclic Nucleoside Analogues. Now Scientist at Cyprotex


Lloyd Murphy (MChem) Chemical synthesis of a sulfoxide nucleoside analogue. Now PhD with Lianne Willems @ York

Alex Compton (MChem) Chemical synthesis of a 6’,6’-difluorinated nucleoside analogue


Mitchell Loach (MChem) Chemical synthesis of a C6-homologue of mannose 1-phosphate.

Hannah Wooton (MChem) Chemical synthesis of a non-self alginate building block. Now PhD with GJM @ Keele.


Katie Huxley (MChem) Towards a chemical synthesis of phenyl-5-nitro-α-D-lyxopyranoside. Now PhD with Lianne Willems @ York.


Jonathan Dolan (MChem) Chemical Synthesis of GDP-D-ManA. Now PhD with Bruce Turnbull @ Leeds.

Jak Buxton (MChem) Synthesis of modified mannuronate building blocks.


Xiaotong Sun (MSc)
Glycosylation methodology development for uronate building blocks

Shi Jiali (MSc) Anomeric activation methodology development for the assembly of complex oligosaccharides.

Nathan Scott (MChem)
Glycosylation methodology development for uronate building blocks

Rhys Curzon (MChem) Synthesis of modified mannuronate donors.

Summer Students


Hannah Wooton (RSC Undergraduate Research Bursary) Mimetic sugar nucleotides to probe a strategic bacterial dehydrogenase enzyme


Thomas Hailes (RSC Undergraduate Research Bursary) Carbohydrate mimetic building blocks for β-1,4-alginate assembly.