Lehigh Valley

“Improving Our Community Through Chemistry”

868th LVACS Meeting at Albright College

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Thursday October 20, 2016 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Albright College, Reading, PA  (map)


Mary P. Watson, Ph.D., University of Delaware, Department of Chemistry

Title: Stereospecific, Nickel-Catalyzed Cross Couplings of Alkyl Electrophiles


Transition metal-catalyzed cross coupling reactions have revolutionized organic synthesis, particularly the construction of bonds to sp2-hybridized carbons. However, the discovery of analogous reactions of Csp3 electrophiles have lagged behind, despite their potential to deliver a range of important targets, including chiral molecules in high enantiopurity. In particular, di- and tri-aryl alkanes are important molecules in organic synthesis. Stereospecific cross couplings of benzylic electrophiles with organometallic reagents provide a highly efficient and powerful route to these molecules, particularly if the benzylic electrophiles can be prepared in exceptional enantiopurity. To this end, we have developed stereospecific, nickel-catalyzed cross couplings of both benzylic amine and benzylic alcohol derivatives. These reactions proceed with high levels of stereochemical fidelity; employ air-stable, functional group tolerance coupling partners, such as aryl boronic acids; and display excellent functional group tolerance. This strategy is also effective for the arylation of allylic electrophiles, and the use of alternative coupling partners. The optimization, scope, and mechanistic studies of these reactions will be presented.


Mary P. Watson was born in Massachusetts in 1977 and grew up in Tampa, FL. She completed an A.B. in Chemistry at Harvard University in 2000. During college, she performed undergraduate research with Prof. David A. Evans at Harvard, as well as with Prof. Kenneth B. Wagener at the University of Florida.

Under the direction of Prof. Larry E. Overman, she earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 2006 from the University of California, Irvine. Her doctoral thesis focused on the development and mechanistic investigation of the palladium(II)-catalyzed asymmetric allylic imidate rearrangement. During the course of this work, she had the opportunity to collaborate with Prof. Robert G. Bergman at the University of California, Berkeley, where she performed kinetic and computational studies.

From 2006–2009, she was a National Institutes of Health NRSA postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in Professor Eric N. Jacobsen’s research group. During her postdoc, she developed a nickel-catalyzed method for olefin arylcyanation via activation of C–CN bonds.

In July 2009 she joined the faculty at the University of Delaware, and she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. Her research group is working to develop new catalytic methods for the synthesis of organic molecules. In particular, they utilize transition metal catalysts to efficiently prepare highly enantioenriched products. Her research has received generously support from the University of Delaware Research Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, the National Institutes of Health (R01 and COBRE programs), and the National Science Foundation (Early Career Award). The impact of her research program has been recognized with a Rising Star award from the Women Chemists’ Committee of the American Chemical Society and a Thieme Chemistry Journal Award. Mary and her husband are also proud parents of 3.5 year old twin girls.



Assorted Dinner Rolls w/ Butter

Mixed Greens Garden Salad w/ Balsamic Dressing

Chicken Breast topped with Goat Cheese, Red Pepper Sauce*






Baked Tilapia with Pesto Sauce*

Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes

Garlic Seasoned Green Beans

Baked Apple Strudel w/ Bourbon Sauce





*Please specify a choice of entrée, vegetarian entrée by request


Price: $25.00 (includes social hour); $15 for students and retirees

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Time: 5:30-social hour (Science Center Lobby)

6:15-dinner/business meeting (Science Center Lobby)

7:30-speaker (Science Center Lecture Hall)

Place: Albright College

Directions: To campus: http://www.albright.edu/about/directions.html

Campus map: http://www.albright.edu/about/Printable-Map.pdf

Contact: Reservations by 4:00 P.M. Thursday, October 13, 2016 through

Pam Artz: (610) 921-7741; partz@albright.edu

(E-mail is preferred with LVACS as the subject). Please specify a choice of entrée and any dietary restrictions.


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Call for Applications - Spring 2018 GSSPC in New Orleans!

LVACS Meetings:

March 22, Muhlenberg College  MEETING CANCELLED

April 17, Desales University (Undergraduate Research Poster Session and Student Awards)

July 26, Iron Pigs


March 15:  Diversity in the Chemical Sciences, Lehigh University (details in March Octagon)

NanoMarm, June 3