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Chemistry Colloquium – NSF CAREER Awardee Brad Merner

Published: 09/25/2018

By: Maria Gebhardt

Dr. Bradley Merner, a 2017 recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, is a James E. Land Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University.  On September 20, he spoke to an audience of more than 70 people about New Strategies for Complex Molecule Synthesis Using Macrocyclic 1,4-Diketones as Key Building Blocks.

Dr. Merner spoke about the challenge of selective functionalization of a class of benzenoid macrocycles, known as cycloparaphenylenes, and the application of his group’s work to addressing this problem.  Prof. Merner also discussed how his group has developed a three-step protocol to create macrocyclic butane-1,4-diones. He then explained the process to streamline synthesis of macrocyclic, 1-4 diketones, their application to complex molecule synthesis, and the development of new strategies for longitudinal pi-extension of strained benzenoid systems, including an investigation of the Scholl Reaction.

He added that it takes seven hours to create just grams of these (macrocyclic 1,4-diketones) compounds in his lab.

After the lecture, Dr. Merner answered questions from the audience.  When asked about what he was looking forward to in this presentation, he said, “I am always excited to talk about chemistry.  The only things that make me happier than discussing my science is spending time with my wife and two children and running.”

Dr. Merner is part of this year’s Chemistry Colloquium series with future speakers including:

  • September 27, 2018 – Colloquium: Tim Wencewicz, Washington University in St. Louis
  • October 4, 2018 – Colloquium: Scott Lewis, University of South Florida
  • October 18, 2018 – Colloquium: Charles (Chuck) Henry, Colorado State University
  • October 25, 2018 – Colloquium: Jeff Johnson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • November 1, 2018 – Colloquium: Steve Maldonado, University of Michigan
  • November 8, 2018 – Colloquium: Jon Njardarson, University of Arizona
  • November 13, 2018 – Colloquium: Aaron Vannucci, University of South Carolina
  • November 15, 2018 – Colloquium: Angela Wilson, Michigan State University, National Science Foundation
  • November 29, 2018 – Colloquium: James Morken, Boston College
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