Research Areas Summary
Structure-function relationships are at the core of chemistry. How does the molecular structure of a molecule affect its function, and how can we design new compounds that fulfill a given function based on these principles? The research at Colby revolves around structure-function relationships in natural products, chemical synthesis, proteins, nucleic acids, transition metal complexes, and aquatic environmental chemistry.
- Prof. Rebecca Conry's group synthesizes new metal compounds that have the potential to
be catalysts and/or further our understanding of metal sites similar to those found in biological systems.
- Prof. Jeffrey Katz's research group focuses on the synthesis of naturally occurring organic compounds and the development of new chemical reactions. Of particular interest are transition-metal-catalyzed processes for the stereospecific formation of bonds between heteroatoms (such as nitrogen and oxygen) and sp2- and sp-hybridized carbon.
- Prof. Whitney King's students study the reactions of iron(II) and iron(III) in the environment. This work includes free-radical reactions of peroxide, hydroxyl radical, and superoxide. The interaction of iron complexes with sunlight produces free radical oxidizing agents that degrade organic matter. Prof. King has been studying small organic ligand binding to Fe(II) and Fe(III) and the photochemistry of those complexes.
- Prof. Julie Millard's group studies the structure of DNA in its interaction with cross-linking agents. Cross-linking agents can cause cancer, yet they are also used in cancer chemotherapy. Prof. Millard's group is currently interested in characterizing the reactions of diepoxide cross-linking agents with DNA.
- Prof. Tom Shattuck's group looks directly at structure-function relationships in molecular recognition; how do molecules recognize and bind to each other? Prof. Shattuck’s students also do work in
the conversion of forest bioproducts to useful fuels and chemical feedstocks.
The group uses surface techniques (SPR, QCM, and AFM), NMR, mass spectrometry,
HPLC, and calorimetry to study guest host binding and mesoporous thin films.
- Prof. Thamattoor's research interests are in the areas of physical organic, synthetic, and computational chemistry. He and his students are developing photochemical precursors for the generation and mechanistic study of unusual carbenes. A more recent interest is in the development of mild synthetic methods for the one-pot conversion of primary alcohols to a,b-unsaturated ketones. Such methods have been employed successfully at Colby for the synthesis of marine metabolites.
- Emeritus Prof. Brad Mundy's students search for new natural products in common Maine organisms, such as spruce needles and sphagnum moss. After isolating and testing new compounds for biological activity, the group's focus shifts to synthesizing the new compounds. The Mundy group has a long history in the development of synthetic strategies for natural products synthesis.
- Emeritus Prof. Wayne Smith studies transition metal complexes that might be used to replace nitroprusside in medicinal uses. His students are designing complexes that will release nitric oxide at the proper rate to control blood pressure.