World-class research at the frontiers of chemical synthesis and reaction development
The organic chemistry division is home to many outstanding faculty who continue to push the frontiers of science. While the focus of our efforts are in traditional research areas such as chemical synthesis and reaction development, many of our interests and applications involve a highly interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. Students can expect a highly engaging, intellectually rewarding and collaborative research environment that will prepare them well for their future careers.
Research in the Aron lab is focused on the discovery and applications of reactions involving small molecules
These efforts are focused on two classes of transformations with applications in three areas: (1). Biomimetic amino acid derivatizations that we are using to access conformationally-constrained peptides of medical significance, and (2). Three-component condensations that we are using to access (a). Ligands for organometallic complexes useful for carbon dioxide fixation and C-H activation as well as (b). Fluorescent sensors useful for cellular imaging applications.
Zachary D. Aron
Graduate students receive a broad base of education in synthetic organic chemistry
Our research seeks to advance the fundamental understanding of reaction processes, new reagents, and novel reactivity. We devise efficient strategies for rapid assembly of molecular complexity. A substantial number of our publications describe developments of new methodology applicable to all areas of organic synthesis. We also undertake studies devoted to the target-oriented synthesis of recently discovered, biologically significant natural products. Our laboratories have published successful total syntheses of terpenes, alkaloids, antibiotics and macrolides which illustrate complex arrangements of stereochemistry and polyfunctionality. These projects are designed to enhance the knowledge, skill and creativity of the future Ph.D. A few examples are illustrated as above:
Our group is finding new ways to make and analyze sugars and sugar-containing materials to dissect their important roles...
...especially in defenses against disease, in plants, animals, and humans. One major long-term goal is to rationally design biomaterials and therapeutic interventions such as vaccines based on a deeper knowledge of these carbohydrate interactions. Most recently, we have created the first automated solution-phase method to readily synthesize oligosaccharides using methodologies that we are applying to other biologically active molecules. This automated method circumvents key problems encountered with the solid-phase approaches that allowed commercial automated synthesis of other biopolymers like DNA and peptides.
Research in the Brown lab is directed towards the development of new and important chemical reactions...
...(which include new catalysts/reagents) for the stereoselective preparation of small organic molecules. Representative research problems include: (1) development of new ways to prepare chiral beta-lactams and related N-containing heterocycles through novel enantioselective cycloaddition reactions, and (2) exploring new strategies for the stereoselective synthesis of highly substituted alkenes. All of these research problems have direct application toward the synthesis of biologically relevant molecules, contribute to our fundamental understanding of reaction mechanism, and introduce new concepts in organic chemistry.
Research in the Cook group focuses on the creation of biologically relevant small molecules...
...through the synthesis of natural and unnatural molecules with the potential to illuminate living systems. Paramount to our goal is the development of new strategies and catalysts for the efficient synthesis of small molecules, with an emphasis on the application of these methods to the total synthesis of complex natural products. Natural products have played a critical role in scientific discovery over the last several decades. Advancements in the areas of reaction development, mechanistic theory and spectroscopy are only matched by the contributions of natural product research to medicine, biology and pharmacology. It is because of these major contributions that total synthesis has been referred to as a “mature” discipline. Although the field may be more advanced than other fledgling areas of chemistry, countless exciting discoveries still remain, and researchers in the Cook group labor to bring them to light.
Research in the VanNieuwenhze lab is focused on developing a detailed understanding of bacterial cell wall biosynthetic pathways...
...and how peptide antibiotics may inhibit these processes. Toward this end, our current research focuses on two distinct aspects of antibiotic research: (1) We are developing methods for covalent modification of bacterial cell surfaces with small molecule probes for use in cellular imaging, diagnostics development, and potential therapeutic applications, and (2) we are actively carrying out synthetic studies on novel peptide antibiotics that interfere with peptidoglycan biosynthesis in an effort to uncover the relationship(s) between molecular structure, biological activity, and antibiotic mode-of-action.
4th year Graduate Student
My decision to attend graduate school to further my academic pursuits was motivated by my interest in the scientific challenge of research and curiosity in understanding the behavior of materials. Specifically, I chose to attend IU because of the quality of education offered in its Ph.D. program, well-equipped research facilities, and interactions with professors and graduate students during recruiting weekend.
At IU, I have had the opportunity to conduct research in an academic environment which encourages the freedom to pursue my ideas for projects under the guidance of my advisor, while having access to other professors and graduate students' experiences. The professors are great individuals who have shown consideration and interest in educating their students, and this has provided a solid foundation for me to grow as an independent scientist. My experiences as a graduate student have been phenomenal and I am very pleased to have chosen IU as my academic home.
“At IU, I have had the opportunity to conduct research in an academic environment which encourages the freedom to pursue my ideas.”
2nd year Graduate Student
I was initially drawn to Indiana by the quality of research and level of science being undertaken in the chemistry department. While I was already impressed by the research before visiting Bloomington, the faculty and technology of the department exceeded my expectations after seeing it firsthand. During my visitation weekend I was welcomed by the chemistry family and met several graduate students who described their wonderful and challenging graduate experience at Indiana.
Although I was excited to begin working on cutting edge science at Indiana, I was also very excited to move to Bloomington. I've found it is a great college town with lots of things to offer a new resident, such as myself. The community is hilly and beautiful, and has several great restaurants and bars to experience when I'm not working hard in science. Overall, my decision to come to Indiana has paid off greatly, and I'm excited for the years to come in Bloomington
“While I was already impressed by the research before visiting Bloomington, the faculty and technology of the department exceeded my expectations.”
2nd year Graduate Student
I came to IU's chemistry department after completing my B.S. in chemistry at Allegheny College. I made the decision to attend IU because everything about the university and Bloomington seemed to be all that I was looking for and something extra: the faculty, the facilities, the staff, the arts, the diversity and the restaurants.
After completing my first year of coursework and research, I transitioned to the MAT program to pursue my masters in teaching and become a licensed educator. I have the unique opportunity to also teach undergraduates in the process, which is invaluable experience. I have also appreciated the support from faculty and staff that I have received throughout the transition process. The Chemistry Department at IU has helped me along the path to achieve my goals in becoming a more knowledgeable scientist and valuable teacher.
“The Chemistry Department at IU has helped me along the path to achieve my goals in becoming a more knowledgeable scientist and valuable teacher.”
3rd year Graduate Student
As a third year student at Indiana University, I can't imagine receiving a degree from another institution. When choosing a graduate school, my decision was based on who I would work for, what facilities would be available to me (NMR, MS, etc), and my overall feeling about the department. Here at IU, all of my requirements were met and exceeded. The expert faculty and state of the art facilities have allowed for a collaborative environment with limitless possibilities for my project. I have also been fortunate to travel for conferences and to our collaborating lab in Michigan for experience and interaction with the top researchers in my field. Outside of lab I also enjoy Bloomington and try to enjoy as much of it as I can in my free time. The town is very active with lots of amazing restaurants, trails for hiking/biking, live music on the weekends and fun things to enjoy like the farmers market or our local winery/breweries. Choosing IU was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I am excited to be here for another three years.
“Choosing IU was one of the best decisions I've ever made.”
3rd year Graduate Student
Indiana University has been a wonderful place to pursue my graduate studies in analytical chemistry. The university provided me the amazing opportunity to work with world-renowned researchers who have shown a great willingness to help and mentor me in my academic pursuits with learning opportunities through both structured and casual conversations with faculty and peers alike. The facilities and cutting-edge research of the University is matched only by the proficiency and friendliness of the staff that enthusiastically assists graduate researchers in their endeavors. From labmates across the room to collaborators across the ocean, I have never found a shortage of knowledgeable people with varied skills, experience, and perspective with whom to discuss your research and successfully tackle the challenges of instrumentation development. Located in a quintessential college town and surrounded by the beautiful, rolling hills of southern Indiana, IU has not only surpassed my expectations in terms of academic and professional development, but also has provided a vibrant environment in which to live.
“The university provided me the amazing opportunity to work with world-renowned researchers who have shown a great willingness to mentor me.”
3rd year Graduate Student
Selecting a graduate school is one of the most important choices we make. I consider myself very fortunate to study chemistry at Indiana University. The faculty is inspiring and outstanding in all areas of chemical and biochemical research. They give the full breadth of the subjects and encourage researchers in multidisciplinary thought. The instrumentation facilities are well-equipped, and the chemistry library is well established with extensive scientific literature.
“The instrumentation facilities are well-equipped, and the chemistry library is well established with extensive scientific literature.”
2nd Year Graduate Student
IU chemistry was my program of choice when I decided to return to school after 2 years in the pharmaceutical industry. I was impressed by the diverse faculty and world class research facilities. I have found the faculty, students and support staff here to be friendly and approachable which encourages exchange of ideas and facilitates learning.
The department offers opportunities for multidisciplinary research in a congenial work environment. In my short time here I have fallen in love with the beauty and cultural diversity of Bloomington.
“I have found the faculty, students and support staff here to be friendly and approachable which encourages exchange of ideas and facilitates learning.”