Mentor: Dr. Leslie Murray
College of Engineering
"I got involved in this research because chemistry fascinates me, and I wanted to see it from the cutting-edge perspective of academic research. The experience provides a great opportunity not only to learn about chemistry and the research process but also to spend my time productively working with a good group of people. My chemical engineering education is well supplemented by the stimulating experiences of exploring novel chemical syntheses and thinking abstractly about chemical reactivity."
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Chemical Reaction Engineering
UF University Scholars Program
Anderson Scholar with Highest Distinction
Florida Academic Top Scholar
Robert Byrd Scholar
Hobbies and Interests
- Computer Programming
- Gator Sports
Reduction Reactivity by Trinuclear Fe Complexes of a Macrobicyclic Tris-(β-diketiminate) Ligand
Multielectron reduction reactions of important small molecules like CO2 and N2 are currently difficult or infeasible due to high activation barriers and selectivity issues. Homogeneous catalysis by transition metal complexes is one promising option to improve the economy of such reactions. Enzymes that catalyze these reactions contain active sites that house multiple transition metal ions to provide the required redox equivalents and also enforce selectivity through precise positioning of ions and neighboring functional groups. For example, the nitrogenases feature an unusual cluster composed of Fe, S, and Mo or V that reduces N2 to NH3 at room temperature, among many other substrates. Recently proposed mechanisms invoke metal hydride intermediates, which subsequently eliminate dihydrogen to afford the reactive reduced cluster. We seek to develop synthetic complexes to unravel the enzyme mechanisms and to make practical insights into the catalysis of these reactions. We mimic the enzyme active sites by pre-organizing coordinatively unsaturated redox-active metal centers around a substrate binding site. Previously, I synthesized a macrobicyclic tris-(β-diketiminate) ligand, and our group has successfully isolated the corresponding triiron(II) tribromide and triiron(II) trihydride complexes. The reactivity of the triiron(I) complex – the synthesis and isolation of which are ongoing – and of the trihydride with various unsaturated small molecules (e.g., N2 and CO2) are currently being investigated. This work will not only contribute to understanding of the parameters that govern metal-ion redox cooperativity in biology, but is also anticipated to lead to novel reactivity and synthetic catalysts.