Prof Craig Butts

Reader in Structural and Mechanistic Chemistry

Following my BSc(Hons) at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1991-93) I conducted a PhD with Professor Michael Hartshorn studying the photonitration of aromatics with tetranitromethane (1994-1996). During my PhD I developed a strong interest in both mechanistic determination but also chemical structure elucidation and it is the latter of these which has driven my research interests since. While isolating and characterising well over 100 new compounds in two and a half years, I spent a great deal of time in the NMR and X-ray labs. A post-doctoral appointment (1996-1999) in the research group of Professor Roger Alder exposed me somewhat to the ‘dark-side’ of chemical synthesis, preparing and characterising a range of increasingly unstable “stable” carbenes – finding the limits of stability as well as determining the details of their structure and properties was a challenge reliant on NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography.

I was appointed to Lectureships in Physical, and subsequently Organic, chemistry at the University of Exeter (1999-2005) where I developed interests in the application of Physical Organic methods to emerging chemical fields – specifically fullerene and ionic liquid chemistry. In 2005 I moved to the University of Bristol (RIP Exeter Chemistry). Finding myself with a few million pounds worth of NMR instrumentation in my hands, I have developed my research interests further, extracting subtle structural and dynamic features of molecules in solution – and as you’ll see on these pages, we’ve come a fair way from Kansas (or at least Canterbury) now Toto…..