Richard Payne graduated from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2002. In 2003, he was awarded a Gates Scholarship to undertake his PhD at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Chris Abell. After completing his PhD, he moved to The Scripps Research Institute with a Lindemann Postdoctoral Fellowship and worked in the laboratory of Professor Chi-Huey Wong. In 2008, he started his career at the University of Sydney as a Lecturer of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology within the School of Chemistry and since 2015 he has been Professor of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His research focuses on utilising the tools of synthetic chemistry to address problems of biological and medicinal significance. His lab has pioneered the development of a number of synthetic technologies (based on the reactivity of sulfur and selenium) for the ligation-based assembly of large polypeptides and proteins. These methodologies have been employed in the total chemical synthesis of a number of modified proteins to understand structure-function and for the elucidation of new drug leads for a range of diseases. His lab has also used a number of peptidic natural products as starting points for the development of new drug leads for infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis and malaria. His research is highly collaborative; 80% of the papers from his group are co-authored by researchers from other fields from 15 different countries. He has been awarded more than 20 prizes for his research including the Prime Minister’s Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year (Malcolm McIntosh Prize) in 2016. He is a passionate teacher of undergraduates and is heavily involved in outreach activities to promote the subject of chemistry. He is also a dedicated supervisor and mentor of early career researchers. Over the past 5 years ten former members of his group have secured positions in academia, while 12 are employed in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector.