Adam Johnson conducts research in the field of asymmetric catalysis and organometallic coordination chemistry. His research group studies the conversion of straight chain organic molecules (aminoallenes) into nitrogen containing rings (pyrrolidines). These products and their synthesis are of potential interest for medical applications, as many pharmaceuticals have these nitrogen containing rings.
The undergraduate students in his research laboratory synthesize ligands derived from naturally occurring amino acids. These ligands are then bonded to titanium or tantalum precursors. The resulting complexes are used as catalysts for the carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bond formation to make the desired products.
Johnson has been at Harvey Mudd since 1999 and has worked with more than 42 undergraduate students. In addition to his chemical research program, he has also published on pedagogy in inorganic chemistry and is co-founder and member of the Leadership Council for the Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists and its website, the Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource.