Department of Chemistry

In the 2000-2001 academic year, the Chemistry Department continued its strong programs in research and undergraduate and graduate education. Associated with the department currently are 257 graduate students, 120 postdoctoral researchers, and 64 undergraduate chemistry majors.

As of July 1, 2001, the Chemistry Department Faculty will comprise full-time faculty members including 6 Assistant, 3 Associate, and 21 Full Professors including one Institute Professor and three TBA slots. Joseph Sadighi will join the Department as an Assistant Professor on July 1, 2001. In December 2000, Professor Robert J. Silbey was named Dean of the School of Science.

Faculty Awards and Honors

Professor Moungi G. Bawendi received the Wilson Prize, Harvard University Chemistry Department (2000), and the Sackler Prize, Administered by Tel Aviv University, (2001).

Professor Klaus Biemann received the 2001 ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry sponsored by Fisher Scientific Co.

Professor Stephen L. Buchwald was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Jianshu Cao received the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award.

Professor Christopher C. Cummins was named a "Discover 20" Scientist by Discover Magazine.

Professor Catherine L. Drennan received the Surdna Foundation Research Award, and the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Chair.

Professor Robert W. Field was named Haslam and Dewey Professor of Chemistry.

Professor Gregory C. Fu received the 2001 Springer Award in Organometallic Chemistry.

Professor Barbara Imperiali was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Timothy F. Jamison received the 3M Innovation Award, and the 2001 Synthesis-Synlett Journals Award.

Professor Alexander M. Klibanov received the Merck Distinguished Lectureship, Rutgers University, and a Citation for one of the 20 top papers published in the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Journal over the last forty years. He also was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Stephen J. Lippard was named a Baker Lecturer, Cornell University, and received an Honorary D.Sc. Degree from Haverford College.

Professor Mario J. Molina received an Honorary Degree (Doctor Honoris Causa) from Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru and honorary degrees from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Peru, Universidad de las Americas (Puebla, Mexico), Trinity College, and University of Miami. He also was elected a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican.

Professor Peter Seeberger received the CaP CURE Research Award, and was selected by the MIT Sigma XI Chapter to give the 2001 Sigma XI Lecture.

Professor Richard Schrock received the ACS Cope Scholar Award.

Professor Dietmar Seyferth was elected to U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Timothy M. Swager received the ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award and the Vladimir Karapetoff Award.

Professor Harald J. Schwalbe received the Hoechst FoundationKarl-Winnacker Award, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Gerhard-Hess Prize, and the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. He was named a Pew Scholar for Biomedical Sciences.

Professor Jeffrey I. Steinfeld was named Chair of the American Chemical Society's Committee on Environmental Improvement.

Professor Andrei Tokmakoff received the 2000 Packard Fellowship.

Professor Gerald N. Wogan was appointed as Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund Lecture and received the Merit Award for Research Excellence that accompanies the Lectureship.

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Infrastructure Developments

Phase III renovations for the Schrock and Cummins groups on the third and fourth floors of Building 6 were completed in September 2000. In keeping with the requirement to enhance safety of the researchers the renovated spaces feature student desk areas that are isolated from the laboratories. The scope of work included the installation of new fume hoods, casework, and epoxy flooring. Local chillers were installed in the new labs to supply chilled fluid to the fume hoods and island benches. The new mechanical systems in the labs and desk areas include specialty exhausts for chemical and flammable storage cabinets and vacuum pumps.

The Schrock group moved back from swing space on the first floor of Building 18, clearing the way for the Danheiser Group to occupy the space during Phase One of the Building 18 renovation project. The Danheiser group moved into the space in late November 2000. The Cummins group moved back from swing space in the former Seyferth labs on the second and third floors of Building 2, allowing this space to be used by Professor Jamison. The Jamison group will use the area as swing space during the Phases Two and Three of Building 18 project. The Jamison group moved into this space in December. This move marked the official start of Phase one of the Building 18 project. The space on the third floor of Building 2 was outfitted to serve as temporary space for Professor Sadighi who arrived July 1.

The comprehensive renovation program for Building 18 is underway. Construction of the mock-up lab was completed in September. The mock-up lab was used to finalize the design of the labs and student areas. The project began officially with the shutdown of mechanical shaft number 1 in December 2000. The faculty remaining in the south end offices in Building 18 are expected to move to the temporary faculty offices later this summer or fall. The new labs and desk areas will begin to be occupied in sequence of events termed stratified phasing. This process consists of vacating a space, completing the construction at the phase boundaries followed by a group into space. This process will allow for construction of areas at construction boundaries to be completed with the least disruption to the researchers. Most of the mechanical systems in Building 18 also have been renovated in 2001. This includes the electrical substation, air handling units, chilled water system and other mechanical systems. Phase Two is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2001 and Phase Three in summer of 2002.

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In the fall of 2000, 65 students entered the graduate program of the Chemistry Department and from September 2000 through June 2001 the department awarded 40 Ph.D. degrees. The number of graduate students in our program is expected to continue to increase over the next few years as we rebuild the faculty to its normal level. In fall 2000 two new general chemistry subjects were introduced to replace Chemistry 5.11. Chemistry 5.111 ("Principles of Chemical Science") covers essentially the same range of topics as the former course, while the second course, 5.112, is faster paced and is intended for students with an unusually strong background in chemistry. A new biological chemistry restricted elective subject for chemistry majors, Chemistry 5.08, was introduced in the spring and presented by Professors Stern and Stubbe. In the area of graduate chemistry education, a number of changes in the system for advising and supervising graduate students went into effect this academic year. The aims of these changes include improving communication between students and faculty, reducing stress and ensuring that every student develops substantive relationships with faculty members besides their research supervisor. At the Senior Recognition Dinner in May, the recipients of the 2001 Undergraduate Chemistry Awards were announced:

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Research Highlights

Professor Moungi G. Bawendi's group, collaborating with Prof. Smith (EECS), demonstrated lasing using nanocrystal quantum dots coupled to a microcavity.

Rick Danheiser's group reported an efficient total synthesis of ascochlorin based on a convergent "benzannulation strategy" previously developed in their laboratory. Ascochlorin and related compounds have attracted attention as potential drugs for the treatment of hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and cancer.

Catherine L. Drennan's laboratory determined the first X-ray structure of a ribonucleotide reductase that requires coenzyme B12 for the conversion of ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the rate-limiting step in DNA biosynthesis.

John Essigmann's group has prepared a compound that consists of a DNA damaging nitrogen mustard linked to a ligand for the estrogen receptor. It shows selective toxicity for cancer cells that express the estrogen receptor and good bioavailability in tumor bearing animals.

Robert Field's research group has demonstrated new experimental and statistical pattern recognition techniques to characterize mechanisms of Intersystem Crossing in small polyatomic molecules. The experimental method exploits a pattern recognition technique in a first exploitation of "meta-patterns" (patterns of patterns) which has enabled measurement of the coupling strength between "bright state" and "doorway state" en route to the dense manifold of "dark states."

Gregory C. Fu's group has developed the first effective non-enzymatic acylation catalyst for the kinetic resolution of amines. Such a process could have utility in the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds.

In Robert G. Griffin lab high resolution solid state NMR techniques for determining the structure of peptides and proteins have matured to the point that they have completed their initial structure of molecule with an unknown structure.

Alexnder M. Klibanov's group has created polymeric surface coatings that kill airborne bacteria on contact. This methodology may prove generally useful in coating various consumer and medical products to make their surfaces antibacterial.

Stephen J. Lippard's group achieved the first hydrocarbon oxidation chemistry from a well defined methane monooxygenase model compound using air as the oxidant. They also imaged zinc in brain slices with a powerful fluorescent sensor.

Professor Keith A. Nelson developed methods for using large numbers of ultrashort light pulses that arrive at many specified sample locations and times for the generation, imaging, and control of coherent lattice waves that move at light-like speeds through crystalline solids.

The Daniel G. Nocera group achieved for the first time a photocatalytic HX-splitting cycle, driven at the molecular level. They used a two-electron mixed-valence dirhodium compound to photocatalyze the reduction of hydrohalic acid to hydrogen.

Richard R. Schrock's group accomplished a dramatic expansion of the use of enantiomerically pure molybdenum alkylidene complexes for enantioselective olefin metathesis reactions and developed new catalysts for "perfect" living polymerization of ordinary olefins.

Peter H. Seeberger's laboratory developed an automated oligosaccharide synthesizer that allows for the solid-phase assembly of biologically important carbohydrates. This technique has been used to make discoveries in the areas of tropical diseases, cancer vaccines and basic immunology.

Robert J. Silbey's group has theoretically analyzed the single molecule spectra of the light harvesting complex (LH2) consisting of 18 chlorophyl molecules and showed the importance of disorder in understanding the spectrum.

Timothy M. Swager's group developed a fundamental new paradigm for the organization of solutes in polymers and liquid crystals based on the minimization of free volume. This method is general and has the potential to produce higher performance displays, stronger materials, and novel mechanical properties.

Andrei Tokmakoff's group demonstrated the use of two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy, an optical analog of the methods used in magnetic resonance, as a method for capturing transient molecular structure in solution with a picosecond shutter speed.

Stephen J. Lippard

More information about the Department of Chemistry can be found online at

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