Personal profile

Research overview

My main interest is in free radicals and the development of organic syntheses and novel materials based on these species. Early work was concerned with the addition of free radicals to alkenes. Currently, my research centres in (i) the development of free radical synthetic methods based on derivatives of oximes (ii)  photoredox methods with carboxylic acids (iii) boron-containing radicals (iv) the enhancement of acidity and promotion of heterolytic dissociation by radicals.  These methods show promise for environmentally friendly organic preparations. Studies of radical structures and reactions by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance spectroscopy and computational methods are being successfully applied to aid in understanding radical mechanisms.

Other expertise

gas chromatographic (GC) analysis of oil shales and other aspects of organic geochemistry; coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) of complex mixtures, particularly halogenated compounds; halogenation and perchlorination of organic and organometallic molecules

Future research

Design and 'green' production of new pharmaceuticals.  Reactions N-heterocyclic carbene boranes.   Kinetics and mechanisms of radical ring closures, rearrangements and cascades.  Computational study of how radicals enhance the release of nucleophiles and carbo-cations.

Industrial relevance

analytical science; organic synthesis; polymer science.

Academic/Professional Qualification

B.Sc., Chemistry, University of Sheffield; Ph.D., University of St Andrews; D.Sc., University of Sheffield; Chartered Chemist, Royal Society of Chemistry


John C. WALTON joined the faculty of Dundee University in 1967 and moved to St. Andrews University in 1970, rising to full professor in 1997 and becoming Research Professor in 2007.  He has worked on the application of physical organic methods to organic mechanisms and is known for EPR spectroscopic studies of many kind of radicals.   Recently he has been developing radical-mediated synthetic protocols including those based around: “pro-aromatic” cyclohexadienyl reagents, oxime derivatives, photoredox methods employing titanium dioxide and for research on radical enhancement of heterolysis.  He has published over 300 articles in learned journals as well as 3 books.   He was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry silver medal for Organic Reaction Mechanisms in 1994 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1995. 



Profile Keywords

Biological relevance of selected free radicals; free-radical kinetic and mechanistic studies; computational study of radical behaviour


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