Switchable Catalysis Publication

Matt has just co-authored a publication in Journal of the American Chemical Society with the Miller group at UNC resulting from some of his sabbatical work. The paper describes a powerful approach to switchable catalysis, where hydrogen bonding of a pendant crown ether to a bound ammine ligand can serve as a gate to catalysis that opens in the presence of cations that disrupt hydrogen bonding. The situation is analogous to biological systems, but this approach has not previously been demonstrated in synthetic systems. Congrats especially to Sebas, also to other Miller group members for their fantastic work!

Congrats to group alumni!

We are fast approaching the end of the academic year, which means congrats are in order to our graduating research students, who have been so awesome these past few years! So, thanks and congrats to Wenlai Han, Emma Watson, Ellie Vandel, Helen Jin-Lee, and Jackson Cleveland!

Congrats are also in order to group alumni as they move on to next steps:

  • Wenlai Han is heading to MIT to begin graduate work in Chemistry
  • Ellie Vandel is heading to UIUC to begin graduate work in Chemistry
  • Jackson Cleveland is starting a PhD in Materials Science at University of Minnesota
  • Emma Watson will be starting a research associate position at Carleton with Dan Maxbauer in Geology
  • Jack Williams ’21 will be starting graduate study in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry at Wisconsin
  • And, Luke Westawker ’20 (UIUC, Mirica Group) has recently been awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship

Again, congrats all around and thanks to all for your amazing work supporting our research at Carleton!

New NSF Grant!

The Whited Lab has been awarded an NSF grant for $356k to support our research into use of metal/silicon bonds to support cooperative catalysis. In the project, “RUI: CAS-SC: Promoting Group-Transfer Reactions at Metal/Main-Group Bonds,” we will target cut-and-paste-style reactions where reactive chemical fragments can be stitched onto inexpensive and readily abundant substrates to afford products with applications in both bulk- and fine-chemicals. This approach also seeks to replace expensive and toxic metals with earth-abundant ones in catalysis, and thus contributes to the Critical Aspects of Sustainability – Innovative Solutions to Sustainable Chemistry (CAS-SC) initiative.


This is the time of year when we thank and congratulate Whited lab alumni! Congrats to Ben Brewster, who is graduating and will be starting in the Chemistry PhD program at University of Wisconsin in the fall! Also a slightly belated congrats to Irene Stoutland ’21, who is already at UW-Madison working in the Blackwell lab and was recently awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!


Hot Paper!

Our recent paper on using cobalt silylenes as platforms for group-transfer reactions has been designated as a “Hot Paper” by Angewandte Chemie! This is awesome news, congratulations to all involved! The paper is also dedicated to the memory of Prof. Bob Grubbs, a true luminary in chemistry and a caring mentor to many generations of students, postdocs, and faculty (including Matt).

Cooperative Catalysis

We are so excited that our recent work demonstrating a powerful new approach to catalysis using metal/main-group bonds has been published in Angewandte Chemie! We show that an unsaturated Co=Si (cobalt silylene) linkage provides two distinct and orthogonal sites for substrate binding, allowing nitrene-group transfer from an organic azide to carbon monoxide while avoiding interference between the substrates since CO does not bind to silicon. Congrats to undergraduate students Wenlai Han ’23, Helen Jin-Lee ’23, Zach DiNardo ’22, Emma Watson ’23, and Jim Zhang ’18 for their fantastic work, and thanks to collaborator Prof. Dani Kohen!