Thomas Hansen is a lecturer in organic chemistry at VU University Amsterdam. He teaches freshmen the basics of organic chemistry and master students synthetic strategies.

Why this research?

’I like making molecules. It is a very complex process and quite a puzzle to put together such a skeleton. There comes a time when you have managed to synthesise the whole skeleton. Step by step, the molecule becomes more complex. A nice bonus is that these complex molecules have multiple applications.’

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?

’As a young researcher, the biggest challenge is time management. I get a lot of satisfaction from teaching and I think research is cool. Educational activities like this eye-opener also take time. It is not always possible to cram it all into a day or a week. I think this is a stumbling block for many researchers.’

What molecule did you bring with you?

’Kopsin, a natural substance. I work with Eelco Ruijter, my professor, and we are interested in mimicking natural substances. It is particularly interesting to make heterocyclic compounds, i.e. with non-carbon atoms in the skeleton. The molecule I am holding in my hand is one of these. One of the PhD students recently completed this synthesis.’