Professor Sally Brooker

Professor Sally Brooker

Transition Metal and Macrocyclic Chemistry

 sbrooker {at}
Postal address:
 Department of Chemistry, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Street address for deliveries:
 Department of Chemistry, Union Place West, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand

Interested in doing a PhD or postdoc? then please read on

*Excellent domestic and international applicants for PhD study welcome at any time
(NB. continually assessed; all candidates treated as domestic)*

Brookers Bunch

Brooker's Bunch 2015

Recent news

Sally gives the inaugural Curtis Lecture

Sally awarded the University of Otago's Distinguished Research Medal for 2015 (Media Release - PDF) (Otago Bulletin - pdf)

Dr Nick White appointed to lectureship at ANU in 2015

Dr Matthew Cowan successful postdoc in Colorado

New Versalab magnetometer installed in February 2015

Current Brooker Bunch member Hannah Davidson awarded 400 Level chemistry prizes

Sally meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Nov 2014)

Sally's Radio NZ interview with Alison Balance (Dec 2013)

Dr Nick White's Killam postdoctoral fellowship at Prof Mark MacLachlan's lab (UBC)

Marsden grant awarded (2014-2016)

Sebastien Dhers wins a poster prize at ECMM in Karlsruhe (Oct 2013)

Sally Brooker presents the opening plenary lecture at ECMM in Karlsruhe (Oct 2013)

Dr Raf Kulmaczewski has just accepted a 5 year postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Malcolm Halcrow at the University of Leeds, UK, starting in June 2013.

New dual source Agilent X-ray diffractometer installed (Jan 2013)

Three of the Brookers Bunch graduate PhD on the same day! (Dec 2012)

Ex BB member Nick White completes his DPhil at Oxford (2012)

Humphrey Feltham's Single Molecule Magnet is featured on the Bragg centenary stamp sheet (2012)

Dr Jon Kitchen appointed to lectureship at Southampton

2012 International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry

was held at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Sunday 29 January to Thursday 2 February 2012. See photos

AMN-4: on Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, 8-12 February 2009 Dunedin

Student lecture and poster prize winners:

Check out the crystal gazing movie stars from Brookers Bunch:

Research interests

Recent publications

Professional background

Brooker's Bunch - who we are and how to join us

Handy connections

Images of the department's single crystal x-ray diffractometers

Research interests

My research group is currently working in the following areas:

  1. Designer heterocycle-containing and diphenylamine-containing ligands (including macrocycles) and coordination complexes: design, synthesis, crystal structure determinations, redox and magnetic properties
  2. Spin crossover complexes - towards nanoswitches and memory devices. We measure magnetic data in house (and Mössbauer spectroscopy 4.6-300 K via in house collaboration with Dr Guy Jameson)
  3. Single Molecule Magnets (SMMs): one-pot self-assembly of soluble stable 3d-4f tetrametallic SMMs, by formation of a large organic Schiff-base macrocyclic ligands with differing coordination pockets, N2O2 for 3d and central O6 for 4f, and differing ring sizes (in collaboration with Prof Annie Powell, KIT; detailed magnetic studies with Dr Rodolphe Clerac, Bordeaux)
  4. Attachment of magnetically interesting complexes to nanoparticles (in house collaboration with Dr Carla Meledandri)
  5. Green polymerisation catalysts for (i) controlled polymerisation of rac-lactide (from biomass not oil building blocks), and (ii) co-polymersiation of CO2 with epoxide (in collaboration with Prof Charlotte Williams, Imperial College London)
  6. Self-assembly of communicating arrays of transition metal ions - grids vs side-by-side complexes
  7. Thiolate-containing ligands - models for hydrogenases (2H+ + 2e- = H2)
  8. Functional models of the Mn4Ca cluster, the oxygen evolving complex (OEC), otherwise known as the water oxidation catalyst (WOC), of green plants (2H2O = O2 + 4H+ + 4e-)
  9. Lanthanide cages as a new generation of luminescent 'probes', in collaboration with Drs Jean Fleming (Anatomy and Structural Biology) and Sally McCormick (Biochemistry).

Get more information about these research interests.

Team members can gain familiarity with a wide range of skills and techniques:

  1. Multistep organic synthesis of designer ligands, including heterocyclic chemistry (some in collaboration, in house, with Dr Bill Hawkins or Prof Dave Larsen)
  2. Macrocyclic chemistry (both direct and template synthesis, and transmetallations)
  3. Coordination chemistry (mostly of 3d TMs but also of heavier TMs and 4f)
  4. All new compounds are characterised by the usual standard methods (microanalysis, NMR, MS, IR etc)
  5. Crystallisation methods (see our 2015 CCR paper: DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2015.03.012) and X-ray structure determinations on the resulting single crystals (hands-on from data collection to solving and refining to publication standards)
  6. Wide range of physical characterisation methods, as appropriate for the particular designer complex: including by, in house, Versalab magnetometer, DSC, TGA, UV-Vis, CV/bulk electrolysis, Mössbauer, etc
  7. Additional, specialist, characterisation as necessary, by one of our many international or local collaborators, further extends our breadth of experience.

Recent publications

2015 (to date)








Get full publication list

 Front covers

Professional Background

BSc(Hons) First class, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
PhD, with Professor V. McKee, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Postdoctoral Fellow, with Professor G.M. Sheldrick, Göttingen Universität, Göttingen, Germany 
Offered a 1990-1992 British Ramsay Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)
Appointed as a Lecturer, University of Otago, New Zealand
Claude McCarthy Fellowship
Sabbatical leave as a Humboldt Fellow, with Professor K. Wieghardt, MPI für Strahlenchemie, Mülheim, Germany 
Bilateral Research Activities Programme award
Easterfield Medal (NZIC, RSC)
Sabbatical leave: Visiting Professorship at Queens University Belfast with Professor Jane Nelson; Royal Society of Chemistry Journals Grant at Bristol University with Professor Mike Ward, Dr John Jeffery and Professor Jon McCleverty.
FACS Distinguished Young Chemist Award (Federation of Asian Chemical Societies)
Sabbatical leave: Visiting Professorship at the Centre for Functional Nanostructures, University of Karlsruhe with Professor Annie Powell.
MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Principal Investigator
Sabbatical leave (October): Visiting Professorship at the Centre for Functional Nanostructures, University of Karlsruhe with Professor Annie Powell.
Elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Francis Lions Memorial Lecturer, Sydney University Chemical Society
NZIC Maurice Wilkins Centre Prize for excellence in chemical research
Awarded the 2011 Royal Society of Chemistry Australasian Lectureship
Elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK)

Brooker's Bunch - who we are and how to join us

Who we are:

Meet Brooker's Bunch past and present.

Where we are:

See a little of the City of Dunedin, the University of Otago and surrounds.

How to join us:

A variety of opportunities for PhD and Postdoctoral research are available.

NOTE: International and New Zealand students interested in doing a PhD please read on