I completed my PhD at The University of Sydney in 2005. I then undertook a series of postdoctoral positions at The University of Melbourne, The University of St Andrews (UK) and UNSW. In 2009, my independent career commenced with the award of a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. In 2011, I was appointed as a Lecturer in Chemistry at UNSW, and since then I have been promoted to Senior Lecturer (2014) and Associate Professor (2019). My research interests are broadly in the areas of organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry, with a frequent focus on fluorinated target molecules.
Research in the Hunter group focuses on natural products chemistry, peptidomimetics, bioactive molecules and synthetic methodology. A strong theme of organofluorine chemistry underpins several of these research areas.
Fluorine is a small element that packs a big punch. When fluorine atoms are incorporated into organic molecules, they can have a dramatic impact on the substances' physical and chemical properties, and this leads to a wealth of applications in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, liquid crystals and polymers. In the Hunter group we are particularly interested in developing new methods to synthesise organofluorine compounds, and in using fluorine atoms to control molecular conformation (a kind of "molecular origami"). The highly polarised C-F bond tends to align in very particular ways with adjacent functional groups, due to a variety of subtle stereoelectronic effects. In our lab, we harness these effects to produce novel bioactive molecules that are constrained into optimal 3D shapes, controlled by the precise positioning of fluorine atoms. The research is interdisciplinary in nature, and we collaborate extensively to analyse the biological properties of the molecules that we create.