Dr. Reggie Mills wins CCUCC Chemistry Doctoral Award

March 11, 2022 by Dan Haves

Dr. Reggie Mills (PhD '20) is the winner of this year's CCUCC Chemistry Doctoral Award, presented by the Chemical Institute of Canada. 

"It is a huge honour for me, and I am grateful to the CCUCC," says Dr. Mills. "I know the award is a recognition of my Ph.D. work and thesis, but I also believe it is a recognition of the Department and of the Rousseaux Group. I think this award speaks to the learning and experience I had in the Department, and to the exceptional training I received from Sophie, especially since I had never stepped foot in a synthetic chemistry lab before joining her group."

"I know that my cohort, both at U of T and across Canada, were all very talented and deserving as well, which I think is a reflection of the awesome research being done in Toronto and Canada. I am definitely proud to be acknowledged in this context."

He completed his BSc at the University of Toronto in 2015, having worked with Prof. Aaron Wheeler (Chemistry), Prof. Amber Ross (Philosophy), and Prof. Ulrich Tepass (Cell and Systems Biology). From 2015–2020, he was a graduate student in chemistry at the University of Toronto in the lab of Prof. Sophie Rousseaux, where he developed new C–O and C–C functionalization reactions relevant to cyclopropanol chemistry, nitrile chemistry, and nickel catalysis.

"I am thrilled that Reggie’s doctoral work has been recognized with the 2022 CCUCC Chemistry Doctoral Award," says Rousseaux. "This award is richly deserved and recognizes all of the curiosity, creativity, and determination that Reggie showed throughout his PhD studies. I have no doubt that he will continue to make an impact on our field in the future."

Dr. Mills is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University in the lab of Prof. Paul Chirik, where he studies cobalt-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions.

"The transition to postdoctoral life in Princeton was intimidating at first. My family lives in Toronto so it was a big change to move away—it was also compounded because I started in January of 2021 when the Canadian border was closed to personal travel, and I wasn’t able to visit until that June.

"As a small town, Princeton is also a big change in pace from Toronto! In Toronto, I would walk to lab, and virtually everything I wanted or needed was accessible by walking, taking transit, or Uber, whereas in NJ there are places you literally cannot get to unless you have a car. At the Chirik lab, I quickly learned that I was working with a great group of really talented people, and I was able to make really close and supportive friends.

"I am also lucky that Paul is a supportive PI. My project is in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, who are some of the smartest and best chemists on the planet, so it is a great position to be in. I am excited every day by the chemistry I do, and the training I am obtaining is what I had hoped for in a postdoctoral position."