April 12th, 2022 Webinar Speakers

Our next webinar will take place via the internet on Tuesday April 12th at 7 PM EDT/12 AM BST. Sign up on our mailing list to receive the Zoom link!

We hope to see/hear from you all at one of our sessions or as one of the next speakers. If you are an early career scientist and would like to present your research, don't hesitate to submit an abstract today! For now, please learn more about our current speakers and their research below. We also thank the generous support from Cell Reports Physical Science, Merck, Janssen, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Our featured speakers this week are Julia Knapp (Graduate Student, Northwestern University, USA), and Preshit Abhyankar (Graduate Student, SUNY University at Buffalo, USA). The guest moderator is Professor Vy Dong from UC Irvine.



Biography: Julia Knapp grew up in Maryland, USA and received her B.S. (2018) in chemistry and mathematics from Randolph-Macon College. There, she studied the activation of small molecules by water-soluble iridium and rhodium complexes under Prof. Serge Schreiner. She joined Prof. Omar Farha’s group at Northwestern University in November 2018; her research focuses on exploring properties of f-block elements through incorporation into metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). She is currently a visiting graduate student scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Inorganic Isotope and Actinide Chemistry Group.

Title of Talk: "Electron Transitions in a Ce(III)-Catecholate Metal-Organic Framework"

Abstract: A rare three-dimensional catecholate-based Ce(III) metal–organic framework (MOF), denoted as NU-1701, has been synthesized and crystallographically characterized. Density functional theory calculations highlight various possible electronic transitions that may present in NU-1701. These transitions are competitive and indicate increased lanthanide character of Ce(III).


Biography: I am Preshit Abhyankar, a 5th year PhD candidate in the Lacy Lab at SUNY Buffalo. I am from India and I completed my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in organic chemistry from Pune University. My PhD research has focused on dinuclear Mn(I) complexes. My work focuses on the mechanistic elucidation of the synthesis of these complexes and their reactions with hydrogen. Apart from chemistry I am a big Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars fan. I also love to hike, read, cook, try out new cuisines, and listen to Indian Classical music!

Title of Talk: "Investigating H2 activation in Mn(I)-phosphido complexes and their role as alkyne hydrogenation catalysts"

Abstract: First-row transition metal catalysts capable of replacing second- and third- row transition metals catalysts have been long investigated with the interest of developing sustainable chemistry. In recent times, this has led to the development of numerous first-row transition metal catalysts for homogenous hydrogenation. A majority of these catalysts function by activating H2 via metal-ligand cooperativity (MLC) where N, O, and C are the most common cooperating partners. In contrast, there are very few examples of MLC-type H2 activation in first-row transition metal phosphido complexes, although such examples with second- and third-row transition metals are more plentiful.

Although manganese-based phosphido complexes have been known since the early 1970s, H2 activation in these complexes has not been investigated. Furthermore, preliminary reports from the 1990s also indicate their potential as hydrogenation catalysts. We have investigated the coordination chemistry and H2 activation in such Mn–phosphido complexes. Our investigation implicates a slow ligand substitution as the first step in this process followed by facile H2 activation across the Mn–P bond. We note that the chemistry is greatly affected by the substituent on the phosphido moiety and have been able to exploit this to make the H2 activation more facile. We have also investigated the potential application of this H2 activation towards catalytic hydrogenation. A better understanding of catalyst speciation and identification of the active species can lead to catalysts with improved efficiency, and selectivity and could also open-up as yet untapped chemistry. Towards this end we have investigated the stoichiometric reactions of Mn–phosphido complexes and organic substrates under catalytically relevant conditions. Our investigations have led to the isolation of Mn(I)-phosphido complexes with unique reactivity and uncommon binding modes. This presentation details our investigations in this area and sheds light on potentially untapped avenues with Mn(I) hydrogenation catalysis.

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