Each member of the department's faculty oversees a research programme, many of which are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the American Chemical Society (ACS). Faculty engage in local collaborations with researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Universities of Wisconsin as well as national collaborations with faculty at other universities and researchers at national laboratories.

Dr. Dmitri BabikovDr. Dmitri Babikov

The Babikov Lab develops quantum theory and conducts computer modelling of molecular collision processes that involve the exchange of translational, rotational, and vibrational energy between collision partners. These processes are important for the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, atmospheres of other planets, astrochemistry of interstellar medium, chemical evolution of forming stars and for other astrophysical objects such as comets. Students learn how to use theoretical tools of quantum mechanics and how to run computer simulations using high-performance computer systems at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. Another direction of research is in quantum computing, where we develop new methods for the modelling of molecular processes using some of the first quantum computers, such as D-Wave Systems quantum annealer.


Dr. ClarkDr. Joe Clark

The Clark Group engages in new reaction discovery to enable the synthesis of novel pharmaceuticals and natural products. At the core of our research program is the development of selective transition metal-catalyzed reactions. Researchers will be involved in reaction discovery, ligand/catalyst synthesis, ligand/catalyst optimization, reaction optimization and reaction development with the ultimate goal of applying new organic transformations to complex molecule synthesis. Furthermore, we utilize modern and powerful molecular rotational spectroscopy techniques to determine the product compositions in select reactions under investigation. This will facilitate the transformation of new reaction discovery into practical methods for modern organic synthesis.


Dr. Adam Fiedler Dr. Adam Fiedler

The Fiedler Lab is motivated by two related and complementary objectives.  The first goal is to gain fundamental insights into metalloenzyme catalysis through a combination of synthetic coordination chemistry, multiple spectroscopic techniques, and computational modeling.  This biomimetic approach requires the development of synthetic active-site models capable of providing fundamental insights into the structure and reactivity of metalloenzymes, specifically those involved in O2 activation and nitrile hydration. Secondly, the Fiedler group seeks to synthesize and characterize coordination complexes with unique electronic structures and magnetic properties. These complexes, which are often inspired by the biomimetic efforts, feature redox-active (“non-innocent”) ligands and/or transition metals ions that possess sizable magnetic anisotropy.  Analysis of these complexes requires application of cutting-edge spectroscopic and computational methods.  

Dr. Eric HusemanDr. Eric Huseman

The Huseman Lab is a synthetic organic chemistry group specializing in the development of new methods for carbohydrate synthesis and modification. Carbohydrates play pivotal roles in biological processes such as metabolism, protein folding, and cell-to-cell communication. They feature prominently in pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer. Structurally, carbohydrates are stereochemically complex and rich in heteroatoms (namely oxygen). These factors complicate their chemical manipulation and, ultimately, the study of their biological properties. As synthetic chemists, we view these structural challenges as opportunities to develop new chemistry that will facilitate biological studies and medicinal chemistry campaigns.


Dr. KedemDr. Ofer Kedem

The Kedem Lab develops and explores complex functional nanomaterials. Our goal is to create nanoscale systems with advanced capabilities, such as highly selective catalysts, monolayer-based reaction networks, or self-propelling particles. By understanding how to improve and control the behavior of nanomaterials, we ultimately aim to develop autonomous nanoscale systems which can communicate, regulate reactions, propel themselves, and transport cargo. In this quest we are often inspired by biological mechanisms, utilize techniques from varied fields of chemistry, and take a physical chemistry approach to create and characterize new active structures.


Dr. Scott ReidDr. Scott Reid

The Reid Lab's current experimental research is at the intersection of physical and analytical chemistry, and is focused on the study of intermolecular interactions, which are key to many processes in chemistry. Using tools of laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry, we investigate the properties of size-selected clusters and elucidate reaction dynamics which happen upon electronic excitation or ionization. We are also interested in the formation of larger structures such as gas hydrates, which are structures of ice that form and are stabilized by the inclusion of small molecular weight compounds, and in a separate project are examining the formation and decomposition of gas hydrates using cryogenic methods combined with mass spectrometry. In addition to these projects, we also have interests in chemistry education research, and have published on the flipped classroom and other strategies designed to improve student success in introductory chemistry courses.


Nick ReiterDr. Nicholas Reiter

The Reiter Lab performs discovery-based biochemistry on RNA-protein (ribonucleoprotein) interactions. We use biophysical methods to understand how RNA and RNA-protein complexes can function as enzymes in biology. Three goals of the lab are to: 1) define the structure and conformational motions of catalytic RNA molecules at the atomic level, 2) examine how specific nucleic acid structures, termed quadruplexes, influence chromatin remodeling enzyme complexes and impact protein interaction networks, and 3) investigate how intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) of proteins influence gene expression. We integrate structural biology approaches (x-ray crystallography, NMR, computational, and electron microscopy) with cell-based biochemical methods to gain insight into the structure-function relationships of RNA-based metalloenzymes and cancer-associated carbon methyl regulatory enzymes. Our goal is to use this information to develop selective therapeutics that target disease processes.


Dr. WangDr. Dian Wang

The Wang Lab conducts research on catalyst development and mechanistic studies of new chemical transformations that have the potential to solve important problems directly related to pharmaceuticals, commodity chemicals, and renewable energy. In particular, we will focus on exploring new modes of chemical bond activation and their applications in organic synthesis and catalytic small molecule activation. Our approaches include (1) harnessing light-driven, excited-state reactivity of metal complexes for bond formations with new selectivity patterns, (2) leveraging the high modularity of transition metal catalysts for the fine tuning of the kinetics and thermodynamics of key bond-breaking steps, and (3) elucidating the mechanism of successful bond-activating strategies to provide guidance for the development of advanced catalysis.


Dr. Chae YiDr. Chae Yi

The Yi Group is aware of increasing environmental pollutions resulted from industrial chemical processes, one of the urgent challenges in catalysis research centers on the development of sustainable catalytic coupling methods by using readily available biomass-based reagents without generating wasteful byproducts. Transition metal catalyzed coupling methods via unreactive bond activation constitute step-efficient and sustainable synthetic protocols for forming functionalized products directly from readily available substrates that have enormous potentials for various chemical processes ranging from reforming biomass feedstocks to synthesis of complex organic molecules. Our research group has been focused on the development of step-efficient and sustainable catalytic coupling processes via unreactive C–H, C–C and C–N bond activation. Our group’s current research efforts are centered on the development of new catalytic coupling methods via unreactive C–H bond activation and to utilize these catalytic methods for the synthesis of biologically active target molecules. We also devote our efforts to devise new catalytic deaminative coupling methods via C–N bond activation and their applications for asymmetric synthesis of chiral products. We seek to develop novel catalytic coupling methods via C–C bond activation and their synthetic applications for high-valued target molecules of pharmacological importance. We employ various kinetic and spectroscopic techniques to probe detailed mechanisms that are essential for the development of next generation of catalytic methods for sustainable synthesis of complex organic molecules.