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June seminar: Nessa Carson

The SUCS committee is pleased to announce that our in-person seminar schedule will resume from 2nd June, 2021 with our first talk given by Nessa Carson.

Time: 5.30-6.30pm with refreshments served from 5.00pm

Date: Wednesday 2nd June

Location: Chemistry LT3 and online

If you would like the zoom link so you can join us virtually, please email our secretary Dr William Jorgensen (


Sowing the seeds of discovery: Automated reaction optimization in agrochemistry

The Syngenta reaction optimization platform at Jealott’s Hill has been established to help agrochemical discovery projects to explore and improve reaction conditions. We use robotics and automation to optimize single transformations or discover library synthesis conditions to explore structure-activity relationships. Our modus operandi is to generate high-quality, quantitative data, to feed into machine learning models to inform future experimentation. We use a tailored approach (no unenlightened screening of whole reagent classes) for every screen to generate detailed data, including kinetic and mechanistic insights, to build the next generation of agrochemicals faster and better.

The agrochemistry discovery cycle is similar to that in pharma – cycles of DSTA (Design, Synthesize, Test, Analyse). Reaction optimization is concerned with the synthesis stage – how can we best optimize a single reaction step within a process, whether for yield, selectivity, sustainability, or any factor we want to improve? Robotics and software automation help us to run many parallel reactions simultaneously, and test chemical hypotheses fast.

Speaker biography

Nessa Carson was born in Warrington, England. She received her MChem degree from Oxford University, before completing postgraduate studies in catalysis and organic methodology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She started in industry as a synthetic chemist for AMRI, then moved within the company to run the high-throughput automation facility on behalf of Eli Lilly in Windlesham, working across both the discovery and process chemistry arenas. She then worked in process development using automation at Pfizer. Nessa started at Syngenta in 2020, working in synthesis, automation, and data management.

She maintains a website of useful chemistry resources,



This meeting is proudly sponsored by Dulux, Australia’s most trusted paint brand.