Research Interests – Molecular Architecture

I am interested in “Synthetic Organic Chemistry”, now what exactly does that mean? Most people will have come across the Periodic Table of the Elements, and become aware that different elements will bond together to make different molecules or compounds. “Organic” compounds have the element carbon as the structural “backbone”, simple molecules like methane have only one carbon atom whereas more complex molecules can have hundreds or even thousands of carbon atoms. Now carbon by itself can be pretty boring (unless it’s in your wedding ring, or in a nanotube) so some other elements join into “the party” so to speak, the typical culprits being; Oxygen, Sulfur, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and the Halogens. The different combination of these elements and carbon make the different “families” of Organic compounds each containing specific “functional groups” (for examples alcohols C-O-H all with single bonds). Different “functional groups” have different physical, chemical and even biological properties.

So that in a nutshell is “Organic” chemistry, what about the “Synthetic” part? Think about a set of Lego, with a given set of blocks you can make a wide variety of different things. Essentially that is what I try to do, molecular architecture. I create new molecules through deliberate chemical reactions at specific places (putting Lego blocks together is a certain way). Why do I do this? Well why did we play with Lego? Because it is fun naturally. However as I mentioned before different molecules containing various functional groups will have different physical, chemical, and biological properties. I general I’ve tried to make new compounds for a specific reason, hopefully this reason is a benefit in some way to humanity. The functional group I am most interested in is the “Sulfonamide”, it has a notorious reputation of killing bacteria and viruses and can be found in numerous medications. In addition I have been working closely other members of The Department of Chemistry (Drs. Mark D. Berry, Sam Yan, and Adrian Weber) on some interesting molecules important in their research.