Chemistry graduate student, Marcus Drover, was recently awarded a 2013 NSERC Vanier Scholarship for his project, entitled “Understanding Acetylene: Alkyne Functionalization via a Rhodium(I) Complex.” A vast number of chemical compounds contain nitrogen, including those required for everyday life e.g., amino and nucleic acids. In a laboratory setting, these chemicals are often generated through synthesis. Unfortunately, many synthetic procedures are replete with non-efficient, toxic, and wasteful steps. Consequently, better processes and methods are required for the synthesis of nitrogen-containing specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and bulk consumer products. Toward this end, we intend to prepare a family of new rhodium(I) catalysts aimed at the functionalization of simple, unsaturated molecules such as ethylene and acetylene – abundant and accessible two-carbon (C2) building blocks. If successful, this route will provide a novel method for the preparation of useful N-containing molecules from unactivated hydrocarbons: a naturally-occurring source of chemically useful ligands and reagents. We anticipate that these new methods would be applicable to the clean synthesis of lifesaving drugs, as well as important materials, which are encountered daily. This research is to be conducted under the co-supervision of Dr. Jennifer Love and Dr. Laurel Schafer at the UBC Chemistry Department.
Marcus, who is no stranger to organometallic chemistry, completed his B.Sc.H. with Prof. Fran Kerton at Memorial University of Newfoundland before starting his PhD at UBC in 2012. When asked about being awarded the Vanier scholarship, Marcus says “I am very humbled to have received a Vanier Canada Scholarship to pursue my doctoral studies here at UBC. Given the difficulty associated with obtaining funding and the high quality of research programs in Canada, I was very excited to have won”