Research 2019

The primary focus of the Wickens group is the discovery of new catalytic principles that can be leveraged to precisely control chemical reactions. Despite our understanding of the relationship between molecular structure and reactivity, many chemicals remain impractical to access by relying on intrinsic reactivity patterns. Our group aims to develop catalysts that fundamentally alter small molecule reactivity to enable practical transformations of simple precursors to valuable products. In particular, we are interested in the discovery of general platforms capable of taming highly reactive intermediates, such as open shell species, for catalyst-controlled site- and stereoselective transformations. Detailed mechanistic studies not only drives the development of these new catalytic reactions but also offers an opportunity to uncover general principles that govern the interplay between reactivity and selectivity. Each of the projects we pursue balances the identification of novel strategies to create and control reactivity with the introduction of useful new synthetic methodologies. Students working in the Wickens group can expect to explore the frontier of organometallic catalysis and organocatalysis while developing advanced skills in organic and inorganic synthesis as well as in mechanistic analysis.