Earth-abundant metals for sustainable organic synthesis, macrocyclic catalysts for selective organic reactions, metal recovery, natural product synthesis, photocatalysis, cell permeable reagents for chemical biology
Alkene metathesis and ene-yne metathesis
Macrocyclic and supramolecular catalysts
There are a number of unique projects in my group that center on metal-catalyzed organic reactions. For many years, my group developed new reactions based on ene-yne metathesis and endeavored to understand the complexities of the catalytic reaction through detailed kinetic and mechanistic studies. Our mechanistic studies in ene-yne metathesis have contributed to our current understanding of the reaction and allowed us to develop new applications such as those that create new rings, important for the synthesis of natural products and pharmaceuticals. In the metathesis chemistry, we needed a way to arrest metathesis reactions and to aid in the purification of the products. For that, we developed a quench method based on polar or solid-supported isocyanides, which trigger a Buchner reaction in the Grubbs catalysts. This method formed the basis for a recent patent to remove metals from reactions. This is important for the recovery and recycling of the metal catalyst and aids in the purification of products destined for chemical biology or medicinal chemistry studies. In recent years, my group has moved to new reactions for the synthetic elaboration of 1,3-dienes in an effort to increase their use in organic synthesis. Last, our longstanding interest in alkene and ene-yne metathesis led to a new program geared towards a unique class of macrocyclic catalysts which we designed for the purpose of carrying our selective, enzyme-like reactions in metal-catalyzed transformation. To enable catalysts to selectively react with one of many functional groups in a molecule is one of the premier problems in catalysis. Students in my group focus on their own independent projects and yet also have opportunities to collaborate with specialists in cancer research and chemical biology.