Research Interests

My research program is directed toward the discovery of fundamentally and practically important catalytic reactions, and the definition of new reactivity principles. Through the discovery and development of chiral Schiff base complexes of main group and transition metals and of novel organic catalysts, my group has uncovered effective methods for a wide variety of enantioselective catalytic oxidation, hydrolytic, and carbon-carbon bond-forming reactions. These discoveries have led to the first practical catalysts for asymmetric epoxidation of unfunctionalized olefins, hydrolytic kinetic resolution of epoxides, hetero-Diels-Alder reactions, Strecker reactions, and Pictet-Spengler reactions. We apply detailed mechanistic studies of these processes, and have uncovered important general principles that have been adopted widely in the field of organic chemistry. These include the concepts of electronic tuning of enantioselectivity, privileged chiral catalysts, cooperative bimetallic catalysis, and small-molecule H-bonding catalysts. The methods developed by my group have been applied to crucially important targets by academic and industrial chemists throughout the world and have had a major impact on how organic synthesis is done. The (salen)Mn-catalyzed epoxidation reaction was implemented by Merck and applied in the commercial synthesis of the HIV protease inhibitor Crixivan (registered). The hydrolytic kinetic resolution reaction is applied on multi-metric ton scale to the preparation of several chiral epoxides, including propylene oxide and epichlorohydrin.

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Section 14: Chemistry