The projects in our group typically involve transition metal or main group organometallic chemistry but are diverse and cover a wide variety of synthetic and mechanistic work. The ideal-case research scheme consists of: 1) discovery of a new reaction or a structural environment; 2) demonstration of unusual reactivity, structural, or electronic novelty; 3) application of these findings to develop a new catalytic process. The training of students in our group is not built around a narrow research theme but instead aims to help students mature into problem-solving practicing synthetic chemists through exposure to diverse research experiences.
We dedicate significant efforts to designing new chelating ligands, particularly pincer-type ligands and tripodal ligands in order to influence structure and reactivity at the metal center in a desirable way. A new chemical reaction often involves a new way to break or make a challenging bond. We look for inventive ways to use transition metals and main group elements to cleave carbon-hydrogen and other bonds of interest, as well as to construct carbon-element bonds. Transition metal catalysts supported by our designer ligands can be used for catalytic reactions for organic synthesis: aryl-aryl coupling, hydrogenation, aldol-type coupling, C-H borylation, etc.
Rigid chelating ligands are also used in our group to discover structurally novel molecules: hypercoordinate main group complexes, group 4 alkylidenes and alkylidynes, metal complexes in unusual oxidation states. Through our work on carbon-fluorine bond activation we have gained significant expertise in working with highly electrophilic main group species (e.g., silylium cations) and complementary weakly coordinating anions. We now utilize this expertise for various applications of highly reactive cationic compounds across the periodic table. Our energy conversion chemistry centers around developing homogeneously catalyzed processes for conversion of simple feedstocks into chemical fuels. We are pursuing projects in biomass hydrogenation, as well as in catalysis of water and carbon dioxide electroreduction.
Ph. D., 2000, University of Kentucky
Postdoctoral Associate, 2000-2002, Indiana University