Organic Syntheses Inc. Grant Funds Summer Chemistry Research

Harvey Mudd College chemistry professor David Vosburg has been selected to receive a grant from Organic Syntheses Inc. The $8,000 award, for summer research at a principally undergraduate institution, provides salary for a summer research student as well as materials and supplies.

“We aim to perform organic syntheses that are beautiful and good, green and clever,” says Vosburg, who researches biomimetic cyclizations, natural product synthesis, green chemistry and self-assembly with his students. “We are using eco-friendly, multicomponent reactions that convert three or four separate chemicals into a single, more complex molecule in one step. We will be testing these cascade reactions with and without catalysts to construct new compounds that are structurally related to pharmaceutically relevant triazolobenzodiazepines.

This is Vosburg’s second grant from Organic Syntheses Inc. He used a 2017 grant to support summer research student Emily Shimizu ’20, who is now a chemistry PhD student at UC Irvine. Emily is the first author on a 2019 journal article, “Aqueous Dearomatization/Diels–Alder Cascade to a Grandifloracin Precursor,” that resulted from this work. Vosburg is the only person to have been selected to receive the grant twice.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing, Vosburg is excited to have students in his lab (in person) this summer, and he offers this preview of the work they’ll be doing: “Students in the Vosburg lab will be actively involved in planning and performing reactions, monitoring reaction progress and isolating and purifying products. They’ll also perform spectroscopic characterization of new compounds using a variety of instrumental techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. For crystalline products, we may also determine their molecular structures using X-ray crystallography. We also anticipate testing the antibacterial properties of new compounds in collaboration with Professor Hendrik Szurmant at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona.”

If good progress is made this summer, additional funding will be available from Organic Syntheses Inc. for summer 2022.