Dr Lisa Ivy Pilkington

BA/BSc, BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD

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Senior Research Fellow



2009 BA/BSc Conjoint (majoring in Chemistry, Statistics and German, University of Auckland, NZ)

2010 BSc(Hons, First Class; Chemistry, University of Auckland, NZ)

2014 PhD (Chemistry, University of Auckland, NZ)

2016 MSc (Statistics, University of Oxford, UK)


Previous Appointments:

2014-2015 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (ACSRC and School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland, NZ). Supervised by Assoc. Prof David Barker and Dr Euphemia Leung.

2016-2018 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland, NZ). Supervised by Assoc. Prof David Barker and Assoc. Prof. Bruno Fedrizzi


Current Appointment: 

2018-current Lottery Health Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland, NZ). 



Research | Current

My research focuses on areas of organic and analytical chemistry and the use of data science in chemistry.

In organic chemistry, I am focussed on the synthesis of organic molecules for a number of purposes including assessing their role as potential therapeutic agents and in biological processes. This involves the adaptation of existing and creation of new synthetic methods to achieve the preparation of novel compound structures.

Past and present projects include: 

  • The synthesis and investigation of novel, selective inhibitors of the CYP1 family of enzymes as anticancer agents.
  • The synthesis of novel inhibitors of the PC-PLC enzyme and study of their efficacy as antiproliferative agents against human cancer.
  • The synthesis of polysulfide compounds to explore their role in biological processes, particularly in cell-signalling. 
  • The synthesis of bioactive thieno-pyridines and pyrroloquinolines - compounds that have been shown to inhibit a number of important enzymes involved in cell regulation and are being analysed for their antiproliferative activity. 
  • The asymmetric synthesis of 1,4-benzodioxane lignans - biologically active compounds that exhibit a range of activites including cytotoxicity and hepaprotective properties. 


In analytical chemistry and data science, my research is wide-ranging and includes:

  • Utilisation of statistical methods to explore the underlying differences and effects of various factors on an array of biological matrices including milk, honey and wine.
  • The investigation into the statistical modelling of the biological activities of ligands.

Teaching | Current





Postgraduate supervision

I currently supervise a number of postgraduate students for Honours, Masters and PhD.


Current students (PhD):

Natalie Haverkate (co-supervisor)

Mohinder Naiya (co-supervisor)

Emily Paulin (advisor)

Delsa Pulickal Joseph (advisor)

Shaun Rees (advisor)

Alex Lowery (advisor)

Jennifer Muhl (advisor)


2019-present - Rutherford Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

2019/2020 - New Zealand-China Emerging Researcher Fellowship

2019 - Highlighted and corresponding author in the 2019 RSC ChemComm Emerging Researchers Issue

2017 - Lottery Health Research Post-Doctoral Fellowship

2016 - L H Briggs Memorial Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis (Chemistry, University of Auckland) 

2015 - Gavin and Anne Kellaway Medical Research Fellowship

2015 - New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women Fellowship

2015 - Dean's List for Excellence (University of Auckland)

2011-2014 - University of Auckland Doctoral Scholar

2010 - University of Auckland Honours Scholarship

2009 - Statistic New Zealand Prize

2009 - Senior Prize in Statistics

2008,2009 - Faculty of Science Summer Scholarship

2008,2009 - Grace Kay Award

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Language Editor (Biocatalysis)

Faculty of Science Post Doctoral Society (Chair, Chemistry Department Rep.)


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Pilkington, L. I., Deed, R. C., Parish-Virtue, K., Huang, C.-W., Walker, M. E., Jiranek, V., ... Fedrizzi, B. (2019). Iterative synthetic strategies and gene deletant experiments enable the first identification of polysulfides in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 55 (60), 8868-8871. 10.1039/c9cc03020d
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Deed, David Barker, Bruno Fedrizzi, Katie Parish-Virtue
  • Luong, T. M., Pilkington, L. I., & Barker, D. (2019). Stereoselective Total Synthesis of (+)-Aristolactam GI. The Journal of organic chemistry, 84 (9), 5747-5756. 10.1021/acs.joc.9b00653
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker
  • Pilkington, L. I., Yang, X., Liu, M.-W., Hemar, Y., Brimble, M. A., & Reynisson, J. (2019). A Chemometric Analysis of Compounds from Native New Zealand Medicinal Flora. Chemistry, an Asian journal, 14 (8), 1117-1127. 10.1002/asia.201800803
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Brimble
  • Pilkington, L. I., Wagoner, J., Kline, T., Polyak, S. J., & Barker, D. (2018). 1,4-Benzodioxane Lignans: An Efficient, Asymmetric Synthesis of Flavonolignans and Study of Neolignan Cytotoxicity and Antiviral Profiles. Journal of natural products, 81 (12), 2630-2637. 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.8b00416
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker
  • Pilkington, L. I., van Rensburg, M., Reynisson, J., & Barker, D. (23/8/2018). Synthesis of novel, potent phosphatidyl-choline specific phospholipase C inhibitors. Poster presented at 256th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition: Nanoscience, Nanotechnology & Beyond, Boston, MA, USA. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker
  • Pilkington, L. I. (2018). Lignans: A Chemometric Analysis. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23 (7).10.3390/molecules23071666
  • Pilkington, L., Haverkate, N. A., van Rensburg, M., Reynisson, J., Leung, E., & Barker, D. (2016). Synthesis of 3-amino-2-carboxamide etrahydropyrrolo[2,3-b]quinolines. Synlett, 27 (20), 2811-2814. 10.1055/s-0036-1588619
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31430
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker, Euphemia Leung, Natalie Haverkate


Contact details

Primary office location

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

Web links