Professor Christopher C. Cummins

Christopher ``Kit'' Colin Cummins was born in Boston, Massachusetts on February 28, 1966. After a childhood divided between New Orleans, Louisiana and Bloomington, Minnesota, he undertook a major in Chemistry at Middlebury College where Susan E. Kegley bestowed upon him an introduction to the research area of organometallic chemistry. James P. Collman supervised Kit's undergraduate research in metalloporphyrin chemistry at Stanford University, where Kit studied briefly before transferring to Cornell University. At Cornell Kit was influenced by several gifted faculty members, most notably Peter T. Wolczanski, whose teachings in the art of ligand design and early transition metal chemistry were most formative. Kit's work in the Wolczanski group led in 1988 to his first scientific publication, that work being devoted to an investigation of methane and benzene activation by an imidozirconium transient. Graduating from Cornell with an A.B. degree in 1989, Kit enrolled in the Ph.D. program in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied under the guidance of Richard R. Schrock. Kit's thesis work was devoted both to the synthesis of block copolymer materials using ring-opening metathesis polymerization, and to synthesis and reactivity studies involving triamidoamine complexes. Graduating from MIT in 1993, Kit accepted an invitation from that same Institute to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry. He then established a research program devoted to the implementation of N-tert-hydrocarbylanilide ligands in coordination chemistry, the aim being to stabilize unsaturated metal fragments and thereby to uncover novel reactivity patterns. In 1995 were realized manifestations of this concept including nitrous oxide N-N bond cleavage, terminal organoazide complexation, terminal phosphide complexes from white phosphorus activation, nitric oxide splitting, and a dinitrogen cleavage reaction. MIT promoted Kit in 1996 to the rank of Professor, the title he holds currently.

Research by the Cummins group continues to be devoted to the application of ligand design concepts in coordination chemistry, the designs being intended to facilitate synthetic access to new inorganic functionality. Reactivity studies and mechanistic investigations ensue from successful synthesis of the latter variety. The Cummins research group typically numbers approximately twelve individuals including undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral associates.

Honors garnered by Kit in recognition of his group's research accomplishments include the 1998 ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, the 1998 Alan T. Waterman Award, selection in 1999 for Technology Review magazine's TR100, and selection in 2000 for Discover Magazine's Discover 20. Kit was a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellow (1995-2000) and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow (1997-2000). Named Lectures given by Kit include the 1995 E. Bright Wilson Prize Lecture at Harvard, and the Fall 2000 Reilly Lectures at the University of Notre Dame.

Subjects co-taught by Kit in the MIT Chemistry curriculum are 5.03, Principles of Inorganic Chemistry I, and 5.04, Principles of Inorganic Chemistry II. Kit is the Department of Chemistry's UROP coordinator, and also serves on the Institute's Committee for Academic Performance (CAP). Other educational, outreach, or service activities in which Kit is involved include his service on the ACS Society Committee for Education (SOCED).