The Cowley group

The Cowley group work in the school of chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. We study fundamental main-group chemistry and develop its use for catalysis and new materials. Find out more about our grouplab, or recent papers.

Our Research

We are interested in fundamental main-group chemistry –  the synthesis of new molecular motifs, functional groups, or novel bonding situations. Just as importantly, we also apply our knowledge of main group chemistry to the development of new, sustainable catalytic or materials chemistry. More detailed summaries are available here.

Recent Publications

Aluminum Hydride Catalyzed Hydroboration of Alkynes Alessandro Bismuto, Stephen P. Thomas*, and Michael J. Cowley*, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.2016, 15356–15359, doi: 10.1002/anie.201609690.

Ligand coordination modulates reductive elimination from aluminium(III) Stephanie J. Urwin, David M. Rogers, Gary S. Nichol and Michael J. Cowley* Dalton Trans. 2016, 13695-13699, doi: 10.1039/C6DT02698B.

Base-stabilized phosphinidene boranes via silylium-ion abstraction Amy N. Price and Michael J. Cowley* Chem. Eur. J.2016, 6248–6252, doi: 10.1002/chem.201600836.

Join Us

If you’re interested in joining the group, then please get in touch. Whether you are an Edinburgh undergraduate, a potential graduate student, or looking for a post-doctoral position, we are always looking for motivated people to join us. Undergraduate students should contact Dr Michael Cowley to discuss opportunities. Graduate Students have opportunities to join the group in 2019/2020 (contact Dr Michael Cowley directly). Other positions are listed on the University of Edinburgh Scholarships and Student Funding website. If you are looking for a postdoctoral position, then we will advertise funded positions as they become available. If you are interested in applying for funding to work in the group, possible sources of funding are listed here.


We are looking for a PhD student to start 2017/2018

We are looking for PhD candidates for a joint project with the group of Dr Stephen Moggach, also here at the University of Edinburgh. The project will use molecular precursors to elemental silicon together with metal-organic frameworks  to create new nanostructured forms of silicon, and will involve lots of interesting techniques including inert atmosphere synthesis, crystallography (including at high …

New arrivals

Welcome to Sarah White, who starts an MChem project in our group, and also to Verene Chou, who is a visiting student from NTU in Singapore. Sarah will work on preparing new P/N-based ligands, and Verene is going to prepare some new bulky amides.

New Paper – Ligand coordination modulates reductive elimination from aluminium(III)

Stephanie’s work on oxidative addition and reductive elimination was recently published. The paper is open-access and available at Dalton Transactions. Abstract: Oxidative addition of inert bonds at low-valent main-group centres is becoming a major class of reactivity for these species. The reverse reaction, reductive elimination, is possible in some cases but far rarer. Here, we present …