Dr Rhys Murphy

PhD (Organic Chemistry, Flinders University), BSc (Hons I) (Enhanced Program)
Postdoctoral Fellow (Organic Chemistry)
College of Science
T: +61 2 6125 4039, Building 138, Level 3, Room 3.110

Areas of expertise

  • Organic Chemistry 0305
  • Organic Chemical Synthesis 030503
  • Nanochemistry And Supramolecular Chemistry 030302
  • Medicinal And Biomolecular Chemistry 0304
  • Analytical Chemistry 0301
  • Physical Organic Chemistry 030505
  • Instrumental Methods (Excl. Immunological And Bioassay Methods) 030105
  • Immunological And Bioassay Methods 030104

Research interests

  • Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • Supramolecular and host-guest chemistry (molecular tweezers).
  • Porphyrins and polycyclic (polynorbornyl) compounds.
  • Medicinal and biomolecular chemistry; small molecule enzyme inhibitors, amino acid derivatives, diagnostic medical imaging agents/radiotracers (stable isotope analogues of PET scan drugs).
  • Deuterium-labelling chemistry and labelled compound characterisation, including hydrothermal exchange reactions under metal catalysis on D2O at high pressure and temperature, as well as by multi-step synthesis.
  • Microwave reactor and Parr reactor organic synthesis, including high pressure and high temperature.
  • Spectroscopic characterisation techniques including NMR and UV-Vis (both at variable temperature, host-guest titrations).
  • Determination of host-guest binding models and calculation of binding constants from spectral data.
  • Molecular modelling.
  • Mass Spectrometry.
  • in vitro metabolic assays.
  • Nanotechnology (organic chemistry and surface chemistry).


Rhys commenced as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Prof Michelle Coote’s group in March 2021, investigating the pH-switchable electrostatic catalysis of chemical reactions.

He was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2017-2020 at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) as part of the National Deuteration Facility led by Dr Tamim Darwish and Prof Peter Holden. This involved hydrogen-deuterium exchange to synthesise deuterium-labelled organic compounds of interest to industry and of benefit to society, and exploration of their altered properties due to the kinetic isotope effect (e.g. improved metabolic stability of deuterated radiotracers required for diagnostic medical imaging such as PET, changes to hydrogen bonding and speciation of beta-diketone sunscreen agents and the impact of this on UV photostability). Prior to this, Rhys was a Research Officer 2015-2017 in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Flinders University with Prof Arduino Mangoni and Dr Benjamin Lewis, where he synthesised small molecule inhibitors for the enzyme DDAH, indirectly involved in the regulation of nitric oxide, and with the group exploring these compounds for their application to neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

Rhys completed his PhD in supramolecular and synthetic organic chemistry in 2016 at Flinders University with Assoc Prof Martin Johnston. This involved the design and synthesis of molecular tweezers utilising bis-porphyrin receptors with rigid polycyclic/polynorbornyl backbones, and examination of their host-guest chemistry with diamino ligands by curve fitting of NMR and UV-Vis spectroscopic titration data to determine speciation and calculate binding constants. This included analysis of a unique two binding site tweezer which exhibited a rarely observed type of cooperativity in artificial receptors known as interannular cooperativity.

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Updated:  28 January 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers