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Chemistry Guest Seminars

Organic Seminars 2018

Friday, Dec. 7, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122  boydston

Metal-Free Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization

Andrew J. Boydston

Associate Professor of Chemistry

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Research Group Web Page

Our research program aims to design molecular-level reactivity into macromolecular systems that can respond to external stimuli. This has provided a forum in which our teams push the boundaries of polymer chemistry and collectively integrate new reaction development, precision synthesis, materials science, and engineering. In the design of stimuli-responsive materials and systems, we approach problems with the mindset that chemistry is the “central science.” Accordingly, we emphasize discovery of more efficient synthetic techniques, establishment of structure-reactivity principles, and correlations between molecular structure and bulk (macroscopic) materials properties. Importantly, our goals and fullest potential are only realized through intensive collaborative efforts that integrate our breakthroughs in polymer chemistry with cutting-edge mechanical, chemical, and biological engineering. In each of the four main focus areas , there are examples of fundamental research challenges that have solutions rooted in new chemical breakthroughs, as well as collaborative efforts to transition from fundamental to applied research.

Publications (Group Page)

Publications (Google Scholar)

Author Metrics

h-index:  30   Total Articles: 55   Total Citations:  2665  (Web of Science, Nov. 2018)

h-index: 32  Total Citations:  3288 (Google Scholar Citations, Nov. 2018)

Friday, Nov. 30, 3:30 - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122  andrade

Synthesis of Bioactive Indole Alkaloids

Rodrigo B. Andrade

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Temple University

Research Group Web Page

Research in the Andrade Laboratory is inspired by Nature’s unrivaled capacity to produce myriad, complex chemical structures that possess unique biological activities.  We develop novel synthetic methodology to efficiently prepare structures of interest (i.e., synthesis), interrogate their molecular mechanisms of action in biological systems (i.e., chemical biology), and apply our findings to develop therapeutics (i.e., medicinal chemistry).

Current projects include the discovery of (1) Synthesis of novel antibiotics that address the problem bacterial resistance and (2) indole alkaloids that combat cancer via unique mechanisms of action.


Author Metrics

h-index:  16   Total Articles: 44   Total Citations:  1000  (Web of Science, Nov. 2018)

Monday, Nov. 5, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122 

Applications and Mechanism in Hydrogen Transfer Catalysis

Travis J. Williams

Associate Professor of Chemistry

University of Southern California

Research Group Web Page

New Approaches to Hydride Manipulation
We are developing new catalysts and conditions to manipulate hydrides such as various C-H and other X-H bonds. Particularly, we're interested in coordinatively directed hydride abstraction and new reactions for complex molecule synthesis that feature C-H activation. To achieve these goals, we will employ strategies of catalyst design, thus exploring novel organometallic and coordination chemistry, and target-oriented new organic reaction development.
Mechanistic Studies of the Shvo Bifunctional Catalyst. A major emphasis of our group has been to understand the reactivity of organometallic complexes that interact with target substrates through both their metal and ligand.

New Catalyst Development. Using the Shvo chemistry as a template, we have designed a new Ru, B scaffold for manipulation of hydride groups. This structural motif gave us the first example of an agnostic bond that is strong enough to displace a ligand from a coordinately saturated metal center, 8. We measured the thermochemistry of this displacement by NMR inversion recovery.

Dehydrogenation of Ammonia Borane. We have applied our catalyst systems to a number of reactions, most notably the dehydrogenation of ammonia borane, a prospective hydrogen storage material.

Mechanistic Elucidation. We are uncovering the mechanistic details of ammonia borane dehydrogenation as part of our ongoing project to understand and utilize hydride transfer reactions that are catalyzed by buifunctional transition metal complexes.

Chemical Probes for Biology and Medicine
Simultaneously and synergistically with our organometallic work, we are devising conceptually novel chemical tools for research and clinical use. Along these lines, we are currently developing the first ultrasound-activated MRI contrast agent.


Author Metrics

h-index:  22   Total Articles: 48   Total Citations:  1764  (Web of Science, Oct. 2018)

HHMI Seminar

Friday, October 26, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122  nelson

Design and Synthesis of Organic Semiconductors: From Bioinspired Organic Materials to Novel Electron Acceptors

Toby Nelson

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Oklahoma State University

Research Group Web Page

Professor Nelson’s research emphasizes the development of new organic semiconductors - electronic materials and their application in organic electronics, sensors and bioelectronics. His program covers design and synthesis of organic semiconductors, polymer chemistry, supramolecular materials, sustainable chemistry and development of bioinspired materials, biosensors and materials for energy applications. His current research interest emphasizes on the development of new bioinspired organic semiconductors based on the natural pigment, Eumelanin.


Author Metrics

h-index:  8   Total Articles: 16   Total Citations:  450  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

Anslyn Iverson Sessler Lecture

Friday, October 19, 3:30 - 6:00pm, WEL 2.122  osuka

Synthetic Porphyrinoid Chemistry

Atsuhiro Osuka

Professor of Chemistry

Kyoto University

Research Group Web Page

Porphyrin is an intriguing π-conjugated molecule in light of its unique electrochemical and optical properties as well as a variety of its metal-complexes. For a long moment, a number of researchers have investigated the nature to create a new class of materials. On the other hand, our group has already developed our original porphyrin chemistry beyond the classical one , namely "Super" Porphyrin Chemistry. It is represented by "Discreat Giant Porphyrin Array", "Fully Conjugated Porphyrin Tape", "Expanded Porphyrin", "Subporphyrin", "Möbius Aromatic and Antiaromatic Molecules", and so on. The goal of our research is, with deepening this chemistry, to pioneer innovative π-conjugated molecules having an impact in a wide field such as organic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, coordination chemistry, and photophysical chemistry.


Author Metrics

h-index:  81   Total Publications: 741   Total Citations:  27,382  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

Anslyn Iverson Sessler Lecture

Friday, October 19, 3:30 - 6:00pm, WEL 2.122  dalcanale

A Journey in host-guest supramolecular polymers: from self-assembly to self-diagnostics

Enrico Dalcanale

Professor of Chemistry

University of Parma

Research Group Web Page 

The team interests are focused on the design and preparation of functional materials, using self-assembly and molecular recognition tools. Over the years the major themes have been: macrocyclic liquid crystals, self-assembled monolayers and LB films, metal-directed self-assembly of coordination cages, supramolecular sensors and adaptive polymers.

Publications (Google Scholar)

Author Metrics

h-index:  40  Total Articles:  175  Total Citations:  5645  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

h-index:  44    Total Citations:  6853  (Google Scholar, Sep. 2018)

Friday, October 8, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122 

π-Accepting NHC Derived from Imidazo[1,5-a]pyridine Skeleton: Characterizations and Catalytic Utilities

Fumitoshi Shibahara

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Gifu University, Japan

Mendeley Profile

Research interests are 1) Organic synthesis, 2) Asymmetric synthesis, and 3) Catalytic transformation of the bulk materials to the fine chemicals. 


Author Metrics

h-index:  25   Total Publications: 49   Total Citations:  1815 (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

Distinguished Alumni Series

Friday, Sept. 28, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122 

How Chemistry interfaces with enhanced oil recovery

Upali Weerasooriya

Director of Surfactant Development,

Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

University of Texas at Austin


Upali has commercialized several new surfactant processes. His research interests are in design, evaluation, and synthesis of surfactants. Upali pays special attention to commercial feasibility of new surfactant systems. 

Patents (Justia)

Author Metrics

h-index:  13   Total Publications: 30   Total Citations:  818 (Web of Science, Aug. 2018)

Novartis Lecture

Friday, Sept. 21, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122  donohoe

Metal catalysis: new reactions and new opportunities for organic synthesis

Timothy Donohoe

Professor of Chemistry

University of Oxford

Research Group Web Page

Our research interests are in synthetic organic chemistry and the contribution that this science can make to the fields of medicine and natural products. We concentrate on developing new methodologies for synthetic organic chemistry and asymmetric synthesis and then employing our chemistry to make biologically-important natural products. 


Author Metrics

h-index:  38   Total Publications: 162   Total Citations:  4234 (Web of Science, Aug. 2018)

Monday May 7, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122  john bower

Catalytic Chirality Generation: New Strategies for Organic Synthesis

John Bower

Professor of Chemistry

University of Bristol

Research Group Web Page

The group’s research interests lie broadly within the area of asymmetric catalysis with a particular focus on metal-catalysed processes and their application to heterocyclic chemistry. A special emphasis is placed on the development of green processes (i.e. atom economy, step economy and selectivity).

  • asymmetric catalysis
  • heterocyclic chemistry
  • total synthesis
  • mechanism
  • medicinal chemistry


Author Metrics

h-index:  29   Total Publications: 61   Total Citations:  2109  (Web of Science, Apr 2018)

Distinguished Alumni Lecture

Friday, May 4, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122 

The synthesis and applications of controlled macromolecular architectures: some investigations of cyclic and dendritic polymers

Scott Grayson

Associate Professor

Tulane University

Research Group Web Page

The research in the Grayson group covers a range of fields, from fundamental exploration of polymer architecture, to investigations of their medical or materials applications.  Our research group has developed new synthetic techniques for making high purity cyclic polymers, and have investigated the unique physical properties of these polymers, with respect to exact linear analogs.   These physical studies have largely been carried out through collaboration and have included investigations of degradation, crystallization, size in solution, gas phase conformations, etc. 


Author Metrics

h-index:  26   Total Publications: 80   Total Citations:  3743  (Web of Science, Apr 2018)

Mahler Lecture

Wednesday, April 25, 3:30 - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122  itami

Tuning Metallocorroles Properties for Catalyzing Energy- and Medicine-Relevant Processes

Zeev Gross


Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

Research Group Web Page

The research in our group is focused on the rational design of new corrole complexes for multiple purposes. After tuning their chemical and photophysical properties by selective synthesis protocols that we devise, the corrole derivatives are introduced as key elements for a variety of applications: catalysis, small molecule activation, catalytic oxidation/reduction of water, drug development, and more.  The tools applied by the research group include organic and inorganic synthesis, physical-organic methodologies, advanced spectroscopy, and electrochemistry, as well as biochemical protocols. Our 1999 discovery on the synthesis of what remains the most stable and accessible corrole to date created an enormous flurry of research activity on corrole-chelated metal complexes. This is reflected in the transition from what used to be no more than a scientific curiosity to a highly vibrant field. As of 2017, 150 out of the 180 publications that we have published are on corroles and we hold 7 patents on these molecules and their utility.  On top of fundamental research, we are promoting practical aspects in the fields of asymmetric catalysis, alternative energy, and drug development.

Publications  (Word Doc)

Author Metrics

h-index:  54   Total Publications: 180   Total Citations:  8610  (Web of Science, Mar. 2018)

Highly Cited in Field:  3 papers

Rowland Pettit Centennial Visiting Professorship

Thursday, April 20, 3:30 - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122  itami

Exploring molecular nanocarbon science

Kenichiro Itami


Nagoya University

Research Group Web Page

Our group has pioneered an increasingly general synthesis platform for a range of functional molecules including molecular nanocarbons, π-conjugated organic materials, pharmaceuticals, and small molecules for plant biology and chronobiology. The uniqueness of our approach can be seen from the fact that most of the game-changing functional molecules that we have created were rapidly synthesized or discovered by our unique and powerful C-H activation catalysts and reactions.  During the last 10 years in Nagoya, the Itami group has focused on addressing some of the grand challenges in the chemistry of arene-assembled molecules. Our endeavors have led to (i) the development of new catalysts for C-H activation/coupling; (ii) the rapid synthesis of pharmaceuticals and natural products; (iii) the discovery of new synthetic bio-molecules particularly for plant biology and chronobiology; (iv) the development of optoelectronic π-materials; and (v) the controlled bottom-up synthesis of nanocarbons such as carbon nanotubes, graphene nanoribbons, and three-dimensional nanocarbons.


ResearcherID:  B-5110-2011

Author Metrics

h-index:  59   Total Publications: 257   Total Citations:  12,560  (Web of Science, Mar. 2018)

Highly Cited in Field:  20 papers

Monday, April 16, 3:30 - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122  ngai

Development of Novel Chemical Tools for Accessing Unexplored Chemical Space

Ming-Yu Ngai

Assistant Professor

Stony Brook University

Research Group Web Page

PhD, UT Austin, 2008 (Krische)

The Ngai lab focuses on (i) developing novel and practical synthetic methodologies to address unmet challenges in organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry, and (ii) identifying and developing new radiotracers for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging to elucidate disease mechanisms, identify drug targets, assess treatment efficacy, and accelerate drug discovery and development.  Our research programs are multidisciplinary, covering organic and organometallic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, photochemistry, radiochemistry, and biomedical imaging.



Author Metrics

h-index:  13   Total Publications:  22   Total Citations:  1099  (Web of Science, Mar. 2018)

Friday, April 13, 3:30 - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122 nate lynd

N-Al Catalysts for Living Polymerization of Epoxides to Functional Polyethers

Nate Lynd

Assistant Professor

McKetta Dept. of Chemical Engineering, UT Austin

Lynd Polymer Group

We carry out fundamental and applied research in polymer science guided by the principles of simplicity, sustainability, and relevance to key technological challenges in chemical engineering for the 21st century in energy, environment, security, and materials for healthcare. Synthesis is the primary tool that we use to answer fundamental questions, and bring to bear in applied research projects. However, modeling efforts may be used to facilitate materials design, and to provide context for the interpretation of data. Particularly, we are engaged in research efforts that create and utilize new functional and reactive polyether materials and block polymers. Newer work is built on a foundation of novel techniques for advanced copolymer structure determination and detailed mechanistic understanding which facilitate the compositional control of structure-property-processing relationships.

Publications (Google Scholar)

Author Metrics

h-index:  24   Total Publications:  59   Total Citations:  1734  (Web of Science, Feb. 2018)

h-index:  24  Total Publications:  61  Total Citations: 1764  (Scopus, Feb. 2018)

h-index:  26  Total Citations:  2126 (Google Scholar, Feb. 2018)

Friday, March 16, 3:30 - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122  doron pappo

Mechanistically Driven Catalyst Design for Oxidative Coupling Reactions

Doron Pappo

Associate Professor

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Research Group Web Page

Dr. Pappo's research interests are focused on organic synthesis, with particular emphasis on mechanistically driven catalyst design for selective oxidative coupling reactions. 

Publications (Google Scholar)

Author Metrics

h-index:  12   Total Publications:  29   Total Citations:  548  (Web of Science, Feb. 2018)

h-index:  12  Total Publications:  29  Total Citations:  572  (Scopus, Feb. 2018)

h-index:  14  Total Citations:  640  (Google Scholar Citations, Feb. 2018)

Monday, February 19, 1:00pm - 2:00pm, NHB 1.720  michaelis

Synthetic Applications of Enzyme-Inspired Catalysts

David Michaelis

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Brigham Young University

Research Group Web Page

  • Polymer-supported nanoparticle catalysts
  • Electrophilic Catalysis with Heterobimetallic Complexes
  • α-Helical Peptide Scaffolds as Modular, Tunable, Enzyme-Like Catalysts for Multistep Synthesis

Research interests include: Organic synthesis, catalysis, natural product total synthesis, inorganic synthesis, polymer chemistry, biocatalysis.



Author Metrics

h-index:  11   Total Publications:  18   Total Citations:  517  (Web of Science, Feb. 2018)

h-index:  11  Total Publications:  19  Total Citations:  536  (Scopus, Feb. 2018)

Vista Lecture

Friday, February 16, 3:30pm - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122  lee cronin

Exploring Transition in Chemical Complexity

Lee Cronin

Professor of Chemistry

University of Glasgow

Research Group Web Page

Research in the Cronin Group is motivated by the fascination for complex chemical systems, and the desire to construct complex functional molecular architectures that are not based on biologically derived building blocks.



Author Metrics

h-index:  59   Total Publications:  324   Total Citations:  14,409  (Web of Science, Jan. 2018)

highly citedHighly Cited:  7 papers

Faculty Recruiting Seminar  David Romney

Wednesday, February 14, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122

Evolvable Catalysts for Organic Synthesis

David K. Romney

Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemical/Bioengineering


F.H. Arnold Group Web Site

PhD, Yale, 2015

Arnold Group:  Enzyme activity; Target-oriented biocatalysis; Protein engineering.

Publications (Google Scholar)


Author Metrics

h-index:  8   Total Citations:  182  (Google Scholar Citations, Jan. 2018)

Faculty Recruiting Seminar 

Monday, February 12, 3:30pm - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122

Mechanistic Studies of Catalytic Reactions in Solution and on Surfaces: C–H Functionalization and Hydroamination Reactions

Amanda K. Cook-Sneathen

Postdoctoral Fellow, Inorganic Chemistry

ETH Zurich

Copéret Group Web Site

PhD, Michigan, 2015

Copéret Group:  The controlled functionalization of surfaces is essential for defining the properties of materials used in catalysis, imaging, or microelectronics. Our group works on the surface chemistry of oxides, metallic nanoparticles, and hybrid organic-inorganic materials. In particular, the focus of our research is to master the molecular structures and related properties of supported single-site and nanoparticle catalysts. More recently, we have extended these strategies to applications involving imaging (luminescence and nuclear magnetic resonance) and microelectronic devices. Since our research requires detailed molecular understanding of the surface chemistry of materials, we use a combination of spectroscopic methods (IR, UV-Vis, XPS, XAFS, EPR, and solid-state NMR, etc.), computational chemistry (on molecular and periodic systems), and testing the properties of the materials. The overarching goal is to develop catalysts and devices through rational design.

Publications (ResearcherID)


Author Metrics

h-index:  6  Total Publications:  7  Total Citations:  252  (ResearcherID, Jan. 2018)

Friday, February 9, 3:30pm - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122 

Mighty Chemistry of Bacterial Small Molecules

Bo Li

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

University of North Carolina

Research Group Web Page

Microbial small molecules, also known as secondary metabolites, were well known for their impressive therapeutic properties and diverse medicinal applications. They also serve important biological functions including self-defense and cell-cell signaling for the producing microbes. However, the physiological roles of many secondary metabolites remain poorly understood. Next-generation genome sequencing revealed that microbes harbor many uncharacterized biosynthetic operons, sometimes up to 25% of their genomes, for the biosynthesis of small molecules. It is unclear what molecules these operons make or what their functions are.  Our lab develops genome-mining strategies to identify and characterize new small molecules from microbes. We are particularly interested in microbes that are associated with eukaryotes and their small molecules that are likely involved in microbe-microbe or microbe-host interactions. Our goal is to explore and exploit the biological functions and therapeutic applications of these molecules.



Author Metrics

h-index:  9   Total Publications:  14   Total Citations:  595  (Web of Science, Jan. 2018)

Faculty Recruiting Seminar 

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2:00 - 3:00pm, NHB 1.720

Synthesis of soft materials for energy harvesting and conservation

Zachariah Page

Postdoctoral Researcher

UC Santa Barbara

Dr. Page's Website

Hawker Group Web Site

PhD, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst, 2015

Zak's research efforts have focused on synthesis and characterization of hydrophilic conjugated polymers, and their integration into organic photovoltaics, as well as the design of novel compounds for organic light emitting diodes, in-situ analysis of photochemical transformations, and 3D printing of  soft materials. Future research will be interdisciplinary in nature, including aspects of synthetic chemistry, materials science, and engineering and will expand upon knowledge gained during past research experiences. Tailored templating and photochemical approaches will be studied to generate well-defined soft materials and composites with interesting (opto)electronic and mechanical properties, with applications spanning bioelectronics, flexible electronics, and additive manufacturing.


Publications (Google Scholar Citations)

Author Metrics

h-index:  11    Total Citations:  679  (Google Scholar Citations. Feb. 2018)

h-index:  12  Total Publications:  34  Total Citations:  602 (Web of Science, Feb. 2018)

highly cited paperWeb of Science Highly Cited Paper:  Page, ZA et al.  Fulleropyrrolidine interlayers: tailoring electrodes to raise organic solar cell efficiency.  Science, 346(6208), 2014, 441-444.  DOI:  10.1126/science.1255826

Faculty Recruiting Seminar  Alison Wendlandt

Wednesday, January 31, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122

Mechanism-guided development of new, selective catalytic reactions

Alison Wendlandt

Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Harvard University

Eric Jacobsen Lab Research Web Page

PhD, Wisconsin, 2015

Jacobsen Lab:  Our program is dedicated to the discovery of practical catalytic reactions, and to the application of state-of-the art mechanistic and computational techniques to the analysis of those reactions. Over the past several years, we have sought and identified new classes of chiral catalysts, and several of these have found widespread application in industry and academia. These include metal-salen complexes for asymmetric epoxidation, conjugate additions, and hydrolytic kinetic resolution of epoxides; copper-diimine complexes for asymmetric aziridination; chromium-Schiff base complexes for a wide range of enantioselective pericyclic reactions; and organic hydrogen bond-donor catalysts for activation of neutral and cationic electrophiles. Our mechanistic analyses of these catalytic systems have helped uncover general principles for future catalyst design, including electronic tuning of enantioselectivity, cooperative homo- and hetero-bimetallic catalysis, hydrogen-bond donor asymmetric catalysis, and anion binding catalysis.


Publications (Jacobsen Group)

Author Metrics

h-index:  6  Total Publications:  6  Total Citations:  1044  (Web of Science, Dec. 2017)

highly citedHighly Cited Publication:  Wendlandt, AE; Suess, AM; Stahl, SS.  Copper-catalyzed aerobic C-H functionalizations: trends and mechanistic insights.  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 50(47), 2011, 11062-11087.  DOI:  10.1002/anie.201103945


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