PhD California Institute of Technology, 2006
BS Gettysburg College, 2000
synthetic organic chemistry, organometallic catalysis, environmentally sustainable chemical synthesis
My students and I are interested in the broad field of synthetic organic chemistry, including the development of environmentally sustainable processes. Our three main areas of research include: 1) the synthesis of complex structures inspired by nature; 2) the application of transition metal catalysts to organic chemistry; and 3) the synthesis of organic polymers with photocleavable crosslinks.
We are currently developing air-stable (cyclopentadienone)iron di- and tricarbonyl compounds for use as transfer hydrogenation and dehydrogenation catalysts. Iron has a high natural abundance on earth, so these catalysts are more sustainable than those based on precious metals. We are also exploring the use of plant-based hydrogen donors and acceptors, which further increases the sustainability of these reactions. We discovered that these compounds catalyze a variety of oxidative and reductive transformations including alcohol oxidations, ketone and aldehyde reductions, oxidative cyclizations of diols, and selective epoxide ring-openings. Catalyst design is at the heart of our work, and we are constantly thriving to develop more active, air-stable iron catalysts. Additionally, we are interested in understanding the mechanism of these iron-catalyzed reactions to aid in further catalyst development.