Research


Our research interests are thematically based in different aspects of molecular recognition at the interface of organic/inorganic chemistry and chemical biology. By utilizing molecular confinement, encapsulation, self-assembly, and functional group complementarity we focus on using cooperative weak interactions to carry out diverse chemistry with aims in catalysis and sensing. Specifically, our research focuses on the development of fluorescent probes for biological analytes and on the self-assembly and allosteric regulation of transition metal catalysts for performing selective organic transformations. To attain these goals, our group makes use of synthetic organic, organometallic, and inorganic techniques as well as various spectroscopic and microscopy technologies.
Fluorescent probes for hydrogen sulfide
Numerous gaseous molecules, namely nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), are now accepted to be important signaling molecules in many aspects of biology. Despite this increased interest, current methods of H2S detection lack spatial or temporal resolution and only provide mean bulk measurements of this important molecule, consequently hindering the advancement of detailed studies of its biological function. The development of bright and selective fluorescent probes for H2S is a major requirement to increase our understanding of this important biological signaling molecule. To this end, we are developing new strategies for H2S detection based on the use of small molecule fluorescent probes to understand the emerging roles of hydrogen sulfide in biology.
Hydrogen sulfide
Multi-component self-assembled catalysts
Nature has evolved to seamlessly combine molecular recognition and catalysis to carry out remarkable transformations. Despite the concomitant and rapid growth of the fields of transition metal catalysis and supramolecular chemistry, the interface between these fields remains underexplored. Although the demand for efficient and selective catalysts has increased, chemists still lack the ability to accurately and reproducibly predict chemical selectivity a priori based on ligand structure, thus often requiring synthetically laborious libraries of ligands. By using principles from supramolecular chemistry and molecular recognition, we are developing diverse, self-assembling, multi-component ligands for use in transition metal catalysis. In addition to developing new synthetic methods, we also aim to understand the key mechanistic steps required for such self-assembly processes in their relation to allosteric catalytic regulation and autocatalysis.
Supramolecular catalysis