Our research interests and expertise center around synthetic and mechanistic inorganic chemistry applied to organic synthesis and bioinorganic systems. We develop new synthetically useful C-H functionalization reactions based on synthetic and mechanistic studies of reactive copper intermediates. For instance, our group has isolated the first copper carbene and nitrene complexes that participate in C-C and C-N bond forming reactions. The detailed study of these and related reactive copper complexes has led to a host of new, synthetically useful C-H → C-N, C-O, and C-C bond forming reactions. Further efforts in green chemistry involve the use of “frustrated Lewis pairs” for the metal-free functionalization of hydrocarbons using only main group elements. We also examine the reactivity of nitric oxide, an important signaling molecule in Nature, and its biological relatives at synthetic complexes inspired by copper enzymes. These studies aid in the understanding of the molecular events involved in the processing of nitric oxide in biological systems
As a natural extension of our work, we also aim to involve students in research very early on in their academic careers. From hosting visiting high school students and undergraduates through the American Chemical Society's Project SEED and the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs, to our outreach through regional foundations such as the Higher Achievement, we strive to bring the excitement of science and discovery to a new generation of scientists.
We believe that research should not be done in a vacuum. As a result, we’ve increased the scope and depth of our work through active collaborations with US and international research groups, that offer computational, spectroscopic, and additional support. Also, we regularly host visitors from the US and abroad for short stays. Coupled with regular attendance at national and international conferences, this atmosphere offers many opportunities for students in our group to closely interact with scientists from around the world.