Professor David Barker

BSc(Hons)/PhD (Sydney)



  • 2001 - University of Sydney, Australia, PhD, Organic Chemistry
  • 1997 - University of Sydney, Australia, BSc (Hons 1st Class), Honours in Organic Chemistry

Previous and current appointments

  • 2020- Professor, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland
  • 2016-2019 Assoicate Professor, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland
  • 2013-2015 Senior Lecturer (above the bar), School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland
  • 2009-2012 Senior Lecturer, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland
  • 2004-2008 Lecturer, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland
  • 2001-2003 National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia Research Associate, University of New South Wales

Research | Current

My research focuses on the synthesis of organic molecules and whilst doing so exploring fundamental chemical principles to aid the development of efficient synthetic methods, the preparation of novel molecular structures and to answer complex biological questions.

At present my research group is working on number of different research areas including, the development of new synthetic methodologies enabling he preparation of DNA-binding molecules, the synthesis of bioactive lignans (plant derived natural products) and the synthesis of novel treatments cancer. Along with this my research group is active in the development of new synthetic methods to prepare organic molecules rich in heteroatoms, such as nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. I also am active in a number of national and international multidisciplinary research projects working on areas such as the development of new polymeric materials, natural product synthesis and determination and the synthesis of labelled wine components for wine profiling.

My current research focuses on numerous areas including

  • Synthesis of lignan natural products. These natural products have potent biological active with a wide range of activites including cytotoxicity, acting as alpha-or beta-blocking agents useful in antidepression or antihypertension therapy. We are currently preparing a wide variety of molecules across a number of lignan subclasses.
  • Synthesis of bioactive heterocycles such as thienopyridines. These compounds have been shown to inhibit a number of important enzymes, such as phospholipases involved in cell regulation and are being analysed for their anticancer activity.
  • Synthesis of novel heterocyclic frameworks based on substituted pyrroles including the synthesis of complex bioactive marine natural products that contain substituted pyrroles.
  • Synthesis and modulation of bioactive compounds derived from grape material.
  • Synthesis of novel polymeric materials including advanced conducting polymers.
  • Synthesis of isotopically labelled natural products for use in quantitative analysis.
  • Synthesis of novel antibacterial water filters derived from naturally obtained materials.
  • Biofabrication of Sustainable Materials for Clean Water Technologies


Teaching | Current

I currently teach in the following courses: CHEM 253 (course co-ordinator), CHEM 330 (course co-ordinator), CHEM 390, CHEM 399 (course co-ordinator) and CHEM 735

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD Students

Natalie Haverkate PhD 2017-

Delsa Pulickal Joseph PhD 2017-

Mohinder Naiya PhD 2017-

Ziyao Wan PhD 2018- 

Andrew Twidle PhD 2018-

Shabnam Mosaferi PhD 2018-

Emily Paulin PhD 2018-

Shaun Rees PhD 2018-

Tuan Minh (Marcus) Luong PhD 2019-

Luka Posa PhD 2020-

Irene Kim PhD 2021-

Bill Jia PhD 2021-

Patrick Peou PhD 2021-


Previous Students


Sok Teng (Amy) Tong (2009), Kirsten Goodall (2010), Kevin Sparrow (2011), Gul Shahzada Khan (2011), Claire Rye (2011), Glenn Archibald (2011), Anupama Rao Gulur Srinivas (2013), Benjamin Dickson (2013), Emma Dickson (2013), Nora Dittrich (2014), Lisa Pilkington (2015), Michelle van Rensburg (2016), Mona Damavandi (2017), Eunkyung (Kelly) Jung (2017), Wai-Chi (Eddie) Chan (2017), Samuel Davidson (2018), Nina Duhamel (2018), Rueben White (2019), Rebecca Jelley, (2020), Min Wang (2020), Hua Lyu (2020), Stephen Lo (2020), Shi Min Tan (2021)


Christopher Ritchie (2005), Kirsten Goodall (2006), Anna Mai (2006), Joy Min-Chih Hung (2012), Soo-Min (Emma) Song (2012), Stephen Lo (2015), Harpreet Kaur Brar (2017), Natalie Haverkate (2017), Ziyao Wan (2017), Andrew Twidle (2018), Emily Paulin (2018), Tuan Minh (Marcus) Luong (2019), Hayden Jones-Moore (2019), Mikael Johannisson-Wallman (2019)


Areas of expertise

Organic synthesis, drug design, materials synthesis, polymer synthesis

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Associate Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute for. Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Editorial Board of MDPI Molecules and Heteroatom Chemistry

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • van Leeuwen, K. A., Nardin, T., Barker, D., Fedrizzi, B., Nicolini, G., & Larcher, R. (2020). A novel LC-HRMS method reveals cysteinyl and glutathionyl polysulfides in wine. Talanta, 21810.1016/j.talanta.2020.121105
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruno Fedrizzi
  • Akbarinejad, A., Hisey, C. L., Brewster, D., Ashraf, J., Chang, V., Sabet, S., ... Chamley, L. (2020). Novel Electrochemically Switchable, Flexible, Microporous Cloth that Selectively Captures, Releases, and Concentrates Intact Extracellular Vesicles. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 12 (35), 39005-39013. 10.1021/acsami.0c11908
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Williams, Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Yohanes Nursalim, Colin Hisey, Cherie Blenkiron, Larry Chamley, Clive Evans
  • Twidle, A. M., Suckling, D. M., Chhagan, A., Pilkington, L. I., Park, K. C., & Barker, D. (2020). Synthesis and Biological Testing of Ester Pheromone Analogues for Two Fruitworm Moths (Carposinidae). Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 68 (35), 9557-9567. 10.1021/acs.jafc.0c04131
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lisa Pilkington
  • Twidle, A. M., Barker, D., & Suckling, D. M. (2020). (7Z)-Tricosene Improves Pheromone Trap Catch of Raspberry Bud Moth, Heterocrossa rubophaga. Journal of chemical ecology, 46 (9), 830-834. 10.1007/s10886-020-01205-2
  • Jelley, R. E., Deed, R. C., Barker, D., Parish-Virtue, K., & Fedrizzi, B. (2020). Fermentation of Sauvignon blanc grape marc extract yields important wine aroma 3-sulfanylhexan-1-ol (3SH). LWT - Food Science and Technology, 13110.1016/j.lwt.2020.109653
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Deed, Rebecca Jelley, Bruno Fedrizzi
  • Mayer, A., Barker, D., Copp, B. R., & Miskelly, G. M. (2020). The HONO-methamphetamine adduct – An unexpected derivative. Forensic Chemistry, 20.10.1016/j.forc.2020.100276
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gordon Miskelly, Brent Copp
  • Barker, D., Lee, S., Varnava, K. G., Sparrow, K., van Rensburg, M., Deed, R. C., ... Sarojini, V. (2020). Synthesis and Antibacterial Analysis of Analogues of the Marine Alkaloid Pseudoceratidine. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25 (11).10.3390/molecules25112713
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brent Copp, Lisa Pilkington, Melissa Cadelis, Steven Li, Rebecca Deed
  • Broughton, C., Edwards, K., Whitehead, K., Van Rensburg, M., Pilkington, L., Reynisson, J., ... Dempsey-Hibbert, N. (2020). Novel synthetic thienopyridine derivatives induce tubulin disruption and cell cycle arrest in malignant B cells with level of activity related to their chemical structure. Paper presented at 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the British-Society-for-Haematology (BSH), Birmingham, ENGLAND. 27 April - 29 April 2020. BRITISH JOURNAL OF HAEMATOLOGY. (pp. 2).


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 6, Room 627B
New Zealand

Web links