Christian R. Goldsmith
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer (UPO)

Research Areas: Inorganic

Office: 371 Chemistry Building

Address: 179 Chemistry Building
Auburn, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-6463

Fax: (334) 844-6959


Curriculum vitae

Research Page

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NIH Postdoctoral Fellow
2004 - 2007
Ph.D., Stanford University
A.B., Harvard University

Professional Employment
Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Auburn University
2021 - present
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Auburn University
2013 - 2021
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Auburn University
2007 - 2013
Post-doctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2004 - 2007
Graduate Research Assistant
1998 - 2003

Honors and Awards
COSAM Young Faculty Scholar Award
Outstanding COSAM Advisor Award
National Institutes of Health Post-doctoral Fellowship
Franklin Veatch Memorial Fellowship
Stanford Graduate Fellowship

Professional Activities
Member: American Chemical Society, 1998- present
Secretary for Auburn Local Section, 2012- 2014
Councilor for Auburn Local Section, 2016- present

Research and Teaching Interests

My research features a great deal of synthetic inorganic chemistry, but my lab’s work draws heavily from the fields of organic chemistry and biochemistry. My research group is developing small molecule sensors for reactive oxygen species and homogeneous catalysts for the oxidation of hydrocarbons and the degradation of superoxide.

Small Molecule Sensors for Reactive Oxygen Species:

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in a huge number of health conditions, including numerous inflammatory, cardiovascular, and neurological pathologies (e.g. Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases). The ability to monitor aberrant oxidative activity within living subjects would be a tremendous boon for medicine, with the potential to improve both diagnostic and treatment options for the associated diseases. 

Recent work from my lab has produced a series of redox-active contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Activation by hydrogen peroxide, the most prevalent ROS in biology, enhances the contrast. We are currently exploring mononuclear manganese(II) and iron(II) complexes with redox-active ligands as sensors. Upon oxidation, the relaxivity of the compound increases, providing a signal that can be detected and quantified by MRI.  

Catalysts for Reactive Oxygen Species Degradation

Superoxide dismutases (SODs) are enzymes that catalyze the degradation of superoxide, another ROS. Small molecule mimics of SODs can potentially be used to treat the many health conditions associated with oxidative stress.

The manganese(II) complexes that were developed for hydrogen peroxide sensing have been found to catalytically degrade superoxide and/or hydrogen peroxide. The redox-active ligands are responsible for much of this activity, and we have found that we can substitute other metals for the manganese to prepare SOD and catalase mimics with similar, or even improved, activity.

Catalysts for Hydrocarbon Oxidation

Industry has long been searching for more affordable and sustainable means to prepare fine chemicals from petroleum-based hydrocarbon starting materials.

We have recently been using non-traditional metals to catalyze the oxidation of hydrocarbons by a variety of oxidants. The metals that we use are earth-abundant; this lowers the cost while improving the sustainability of the resultant catalyst. Recent examples include using gallium(III) complexes with N-donor ligands to accelerate the epoxidation of alkenes by peracids and using cobalt(II) complexes as catalysts of the oxidation of weak C-H bonds by iodosobenzene and meta-chloroperbenzoic acid.

Selected Publications


  • Karbalaei, S.; Franke, A.; Oppelt, J.; Aziz, T.; Jordan, A.; Pokkuluri, P. R.; Schwartz, D. D.; Ivanović-Burmazović, I.; Goldsmith, C. R. “A Macrocyclic Quinol-Containing Ligand Enables High Catalase Activity even with a Redox-Inactive Metal at the Expense of the Ability to Mimic Superoxide Dismutase,” Chem. Sci. 2023, 14, 9910-9922.
  • Obisesan, S. V.; Rose, C.; Farnum, B. H.; Goldsmith, C. R. “A Co(II) Complex with a Covalently Attached Pendent Quinol Selectively Reduces O2 to H2O.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 22826-22830.
  • Moore, J. L.; Oppelt, J.; Senft, L.; Franke, A.; Scheitler, A.; Dukes, M. W.; Alix, H. B.; Saunders, A. C; Karbalaei, S.; Schwartz, D. D.; Ivanović-Burmazović, I.; Goldsmith, C. R. “Diquinol Functionality Boosts the Superoxide Dismutase Mimicry of a Zn(II) Complex with a Redox-Active Ligand while Maintaining Catalyst Stability and Enhanced Activity in Phosphate Solution.” Inorg. Chem. 2022, 61, 19983-19997.
  • Karbalaei, S.; Franke, A.; Jordan, A; Rose, C.; Pokkuluri, P. R.; Beyers, R. J.; Zahl, A.; Ivanović-Burmazović, I.; Goldsmith, C. R. “A Highly Water- and Air-Stable Iron-Containing MRI Contrast Agent Sensor for H2O2.” Chem. Eur. J. 2022, 28, e202201179.
  • Senft, L.; Moore, J. L.; Franke, A.; Fisher, K. R.; Scheitler, A.; Zahl, A.; Puchta, R.; Fehn, D.; Ison, S.; Sader, S.; Ivanović-Burmazović, I.; Goldsmith, C. R. “Quinol-Containing Ligands Enable High Superoxide Dismutase Activity by Modulating Coordination Number, Charge, Oxidation States and Stability of Manganese Complexes through Redox Cycling.” Chem. Sci. 2021, 12, 10483-10500.
  • Karbalaei, S.; Knecht, E.; Franke, A.; Zahl, A.; Saunders, A. C.; Pokkuluri, P. R.; Beyers, R. J.; Ivanović-Burmazović, I.; Goldsmith, C. R. “A Macrocyclic Ligand Framework Improves Both the Stability and T1-Weighted MRI Response of Quinol-Containing H2O2 Sensors.” Inorg. Chem. 2021, 60, 8368-8379. (featured article)
  • Ward, M. B.; Yu, M.; Scheitler, A.; Zillmann, A. S.; Gorden, J. D.; Schwartz, D. D.; Ivanović-Burmazović, I.; Goldsmith, C. R. “Superoxide Dismutase Activity Enabled by a Redox-Active Ligand rather than Metal.” Nature Chem. 2018, 10, 1207-1212.
  • Kenkel, I.; Franke, A.; Dürr, D.; Zahl, A.; Dücker-Benfer, C.; Langer, J.; Filipović, M. R.; Yu, M.; Puchta, R.; Fiedler, S. R.; Shores, M. P.; Goldsmith, C. R., Ivanović-Burmazović, I. “Switching between Inner- and Outer-Sphere PCET Mechanisms of Small Molecule Activation. Superoxide Dismutation and Oxygen/Superoxide Reduction Reactivity Deriving from the Same Manganese Complex.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 1472-1484.

Last updated: 09/20/2023