Dr Jonathan Sperry

PhD/BSc(Hons) (Exon.)

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Associate Professor


  • Feb 2017-present. Associate Professor in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Auckland. 
  • Feb 2014- 2019. RSNZ Rutherford Discovery Fellow
  • Feb 2012- Feb 2017. Senior Lecturer in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Auckland. 
  • Nov 2009- Feb 2012. Lecturer in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, University of Auckland
  • Mar 2006- Nov 2009. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Auckland, New Zealand, (RSNZ Marsden Fund, D.Prof. M. A. Brimble)
  • Oct 2002- Feb 2006. Ph.D Synthetic Organic Chemistry, University of Exeter, UK. Biomimetic Oxidations in Natural Product Synthesis (Prof. C. J. Moody)
  • 1999-2002. BSc (Hons) Biological and Medicinal Chemistry, 1st class. University of Exeter, UK. Final year project: A Diels Alder approach to Vitamin B6 analogues

Research | Current

****MSc and Ph.D SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE FOR 2017/2018**** Contact Jon if you are interested

BSc(Hons) / MSc

Several Honours and MSc projects are available for students starting in semesters 1 and 2. Please contact Jon for further information

Ph.D studies

A number of funding sources are available to support students into their PhD studies. The application processes are conducted through the University of Auckland, however please get in contact with Jon first to discuss the application. If you are an Australian or New Zealand student with a first class honours degree then you should be eligible for a scholarship.

If you are from outside Australasia, possess a stellar academic record and good English skills (TOEFL scores), I will endeavour to organise a scholarship for you.

If your country has a scholarship program then please contact Jon to see if we are able to support an application.

Our Research interests can be split into three main areas:

- Organic Synthesis -

C-H functionalization

Study of natural product synthesis as a platform for methods development.

Particular emphasis is placed on compounds that possess unprecedented architecture, biomimetic synthesis and novel reaction development.

- Medicinal chemistry -

Design and synthesis of novel biologically active entities based on leads from Nature.

The synthesis and biophysical analysis of isocitrate lyase (ICL) inhibitors for the treatment of latent tuberculosis - in collaboration with Dr Ivan Leung (University of Auckland)

Novel therapeutics targeting the PSA-NCAM complex - in collaboration with A/P Maurice Curtis (Centre for Brain Research)

- Sustainable Synthesis / Green Chemistry -

Biorenewable platform chemicals in the synthesis of fine and commodity chemicals, in collaboration with A/P Shinji Kudo (Kyushu University, Japan) and A/P Ning Yan (National University of Singapore)

Electrochemical and mechanochemical synthesis

Valorization of lignin

Green solvents and reagents.



Teaching | Current

  • CHEM 230
  • CHEM 260
  • CHEM 330
  • CHEM 360
  • CHEM 730
  • CHEM 735
  • CHEM 750

Postgraduate supervision


Dr Ashley Lindsay


Andrew Eastabrook (2014)

Ram Bhusal (2014)

Joshua Homer (2014)

Emma Davison (2015)

Se Hun Kim (2016)

Ryan Dixon (2016)

Ardalan Nabi (2016)

Trang Pham (2016)

Kirsty Anderson (2017)

Jessica Liyu (2017)

Maurycy Prystupa (2017)

Shi-Wei Kim (2017)

Annabelle Collins (2018)


Emily Russell

BSc (Hons)

Brodie Bailey

Junyang Xu

Interns/visiting students

Wijitra Waengdongbung



RSNZ Rutherford Discovery Fellowship 2014-2019

Thieme Chemistry Journal Award 2014

Deans Commendation 2002

Henry Normon Rydon Award 2001

Deans Commendation 2000


Associate Professor in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry

Rutherford Discovery Fellow


Areas of expertise

Organic and Sustainable Synthesis

Medicinal Chemistry

Heterocyclic Chemistry

Natural Products

Green Chemistry

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Chair: Auckland branch of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC)

Founding member of the Centre for Green Chemical Science (CGCS)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Homer, J. A., & Sperry, J. (2018). Synthesis of three tricholoma-derived indoles via an ortho-quinone methide. Arkivoc, 2018 (4), 6-12. 10.24820/ark.5550190.p010.475
  • Sperry, J., Yan, N., Sadiq, A., & Chen, X. (2017). Towards the Shell Biorefinery: Sustainable Synthesis of the Anti-Cancer Alkaloid Proximicin A from Chitin. ChemSusChem10.1002/cssc.201702356
  • Davison, E. K., & Sperry, J. (2017). Natural Products with Heteroatom-Rich Ring Systems. Journal of natural products, 80 (11), 3060-3079. 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00575
  • Nabi, A. A., Liyu, J., Lindsay, A. C., & Sperry, J. (2017). C4−H alkoxylation of 6-bromoindole and its application to the synthesis of breitfussin B. Tetrahedron10.1016/j.tet.2017.10.067
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ashley Lindsay
  • Homer, J. A., & Sperry, J. (2017). Mushroom-Derived Indole Alkaloids. Journal of natural products, 80 (7), 2178-2187. 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00390
  • Badrinarayanan, S., Squire, C. J., Sperry, J., & Brimble, M. A. (2017). Bioinspired total synthesis and stereochemical revision of the fungal metabolite pestalospirane B. Organic letters, 19 (13), 3414-3417. 10.1021/acs.orglett.7b01371
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christopher Squire, Margaret Brimble
  • Bhusal, R. P., Bashiri, G., Kwai, B. X. C., Sperry, J., & Leung, I. K. H. (2017). Targeting isocitrate lyase for the treatment of latent tuberculosis. Drug Discovery Today, 22 (7), 1008-1016. 10.1016/j.drudis.2017.04.012
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ivanhoe Leung, Ghader Bashiri, Ram Bhusal
  • Lindsay, A. C., & Sperry, J. (2017). Observations arising from a Beckmann rearrangement-Mannich cyclization approach to the azepinobisindole alkaloid iheyamine A. Tetrahedron, 73 (30), 4355-4362. 10.1016/j.tet.2017.05.093
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ashley Lindsay

Contact details

Primary location

Level 7, Room 727A
New Zealand