Research

Our group is generally interested in developing new methods for stereoselective and catalytic carbon-carbon bond formation. Some examples of active research areas in our group are described below:

Photoredox Catalysis for Umpolung C–C Bond Forming Reactions

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With the ultimate goal of finding new catalytic reactivity for C–C bond forming umpolung reactions, we are investigating the transition-metal mediated synthesis of ketyl radicals. These nucleophilic radicals, which are generated by the single electron reduction of carbonyl compounds, are capable of forming new carbon-carbon bonds with many traditional electrophiles. Opportunities in this area range from photoredox catalysis to single-electron reducing metals such as titanium(III) or samarium(II).
See: Foy, N. J.; Forbes, K. C.; Crooke, A. M.; Gruber, M. D.; Cannon, J. S. Org. Lett. 201820, 5727

Auxiliary-Directed Enolate Alkylation

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New stereoselective syntheses of carbon–carbon bonds are in constant demand. We are working to develop the use of sulfinamide auxiliaries as an alternative strategy to access amino acid derivatives. These reactions provide high diastereoselectivity in the formation of new C–C bonds in the synthesis of unnatural amino acids. This work has the advantage of the large family of reactions available to enolate nucleophiles, and we hope to apply this approach to an array of diastereoselective reactions.
See: Dwulet, N. C.; Zolfaghari, T. Z.; Brown, M. L.; Cannon, J. S. J. Org. Chem. 201883, 11510

Computational Evaluation of Organic Reaction Mechanisms and Selectivities

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The utility and practical application of quantum mechanical theory to synthetic organic chemistry is growing at a rapid pace. We employ theoretical methods to understand underlying catalytic reactivity and aid in their development of new catalysts with improved reactivity and selectivity. The low cost and increasing accuracy of theory make it invaluable for modern methodology development.

Stereoselective Total Synthesis of Natural Products

New reaction methodologies must be tested in complex settings to examine the frontiers of their utility. Natural products not only provide inspiration for the development of new reactions, but are also the ideal testing ground for new methods.