Professor of Chemistry; Louise and Jim Vanderslice and Family Chair, Vice Chairperson
Synthetic organic chemistry has undergone a paradigm shift over the past 15 years with new metal-catalyzed transformations enabling bond formation in ways that chemists previously only dreamed about. Realizing the impact that new catalytic asymmetric reactions will have on the continued evolution of organic synthesis, we have focused our research on the development of new processes and on studying their utility in complex molecule synthesis. Control of enantioselectivity is an overarching theme as adequate control of molecular shape is paramount in the design of effective therapeutics, materials, and commodity chemicals. Our progress towards these goals depends upon expertise in many areas of chemistry including organometallic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, and synthetic organic chemistry. Additionally, computational chemistry plays a central role in ligand design and in prediction of reaction outcomes.
Efforts in new reaction development are intimately intertwined with efforts in total synthesis of natural products. Our approaches to the natural products borrelidin, inostamycin, fraxinellone and dihydroxanthatin all served to highlight the utility of newly developed reactions and serve as a device to measure the limitations of catalytic methods. In addition to expanding the frontiers of chemistry, these studies prepare students for a variety of careers that involve the synthesis and manipulation of chemical structures.