William Jones is known for his research in organometallic chemistry including C-H bond activation, strong C-X bond cleavage, catalysis, model studies, mechanisms, kinetics, thermodynamics, and synthetic applications. Jones was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was inspired to work in inorganic chemistry as an undergraduate researcher with Mark S. Wrighton at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in chemistry at California Institute of Technology working with Robert G. Bergmanin 1979. He moved to the University of Wisconsin as an NSF postdoctoral fellow with Chuck Casey and in 1980 began as Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1984 and Professor in 1987, and is now the Charles F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry. Jones served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society from 2003-2020. Jones was the recipient of a Humboldt Research Award (2018), and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2010). He is also a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2021) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

William Jones's research projects examine several topics of widespread interest in organometallic chemistry. He has been a leader in the area of activation of C-H bonds in substituted and unsubstituted hydrocarbons, where he established the fundamentals of the relationship between C-H bond strengths and metal-carbon bond strengths. He has also elucidated details of the cleavage of carbon-carbon bonds in alkynes, nitriles, and strained biphenylene rings. He has examined fundamental aspects of C-S bond cleavage and hydrogenation of thiophenes, as models for the industrial hydrodesulfurization of crude oil. Jones has found several routes for the cleavage of C-F bonds in hydrofluorocarbons and replacement of fluorine with hydrogen. He has provided insights into the electrophilic activation and functionalization of directed substrates, and the electrophilic activation of non-activated substrates. Jones has found new methods for the catalytic hydrogenation and dehydrogenation of heterocycles as hydrogen-storing fuels. He has also found novel tandem catalyst systems for the conversion of ethanol into butanol. These projects all involve synthetic and mechanistic studies involving organometallic compounds.

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Section 14: Chemistry