Department Seminars

Our department hosts guest speakers from the industry, research institutes, other universities, and from our own campus as part of a regular seminar series during the Fall and Winter terms. Everyone is welcome.

Improved Hydrogen Evolution Reactions Based on Ru(II) and Ir(III) Polypyridine Complexes

Who: Dr. Gary Hannan, Full Professor, Département de Chimie, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada

When: March 11, 2020 at 11:30 am

Where: D’Iorio Hall, room 214


Nature has been using sunlight as its main energy source to oxidize water and fix CO2 to produce carbohydrates for over a billion years. In the research field of molecular artificial photosynthesis, the main objective is to mimic nature by extracting electrons from water and reducing protons or other organic compounds (e.g., CO2) in order to store solar energy in chemical bonds.

London Dispersion Effects in Molecular Chemistry – Reconsidering Steric Effects

Who: Prof. Peter R. Schreiner, Institute of Organic Chemistry, Justus-Liebig University

When: February 27, 2020 at 11:30 am

Where: D’Iorio Hall, room 214


The Gecko can walk up a glass window because of the adhesion in hydrophobic setae on its toes that convey van der Waals (vdW) interactions with the surface. The attractive part of such vdW-interactions is an electron correlation effect referred to as London dispersion. Its role in the formation of condensed matter has been known since the work of van der Waals and London who related dispersion to polarizability. London dispersion has been underappreciated in molecular chemistry as a key element of structural stability, chemical reactivity, and catalysis.

Fagnou Educational Lecture - Multiblock Nanofibers from Organic Electronic Materials

Who: Prof. Zachary M. Hudson, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry at the University of British Columbia

When: February 12, 2020 at 11:30 am

Where: D’Iorio Hall, room 214


Techniques for the assembly of hierarchical nanostructures from soft matter have opened the door to many new applications of nanotechnology. Despite these achievements, nanoscale syntheses which rely on self-assembly can be highly dependent on conditions such as solvent and temperature if the integrity of the nanomaterial is to be maintained.

Fagnou Lecture - C-H and C-O Functionalization via Radical Chaperones

Who: Prof. David A. Nagib, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, USA

When: Jan. 15 2020, 11:30 am

Where: D’Iorio Hall, room 214


Our research is focused on harnessing the untapped reactivity of abundant chemical feedstocks to enable late-stage functionalization of medicinally relevant molecules. We have recently developed new approaches for selective C-H and C-O functionalization of alcohols, amines, and carbonyls, using a combination of radical (1e-) and closed shell (2e-) processes that act in concert with one another. These radical chaperone strategies have enabled discovery of new classes of reactivity to streamline the synthesis of complex molecules with biological and industrial significance.


Targeting Energy Solutions: From Fundamental to Applied Inorganic Redox Chemistry

Who: Prof. Gabriel Menard, UC Santa Barbara Chemistry and Biochemistry

When: Friday, January 10th 2020 at 2pm

Where: D’Iorio Hall, room 214


This talk will broadly focus on designing and investigating main-group and/or transition-metal based redox-active molecules, targeted for use in fundamentally new bond activation chemistry and energy applications. The first part will focus on the design of redox-active metal complexes bearing redox non-innocent ligands for use in either chemical or electrochemical energy storage applications. Here, the talk will mostly center on the design of new charge carriers for solution and slurry-based redox-flow battery applications for grid-scale energy storage. The second part will focus on our recent work investigating new cooperative main-group/transition metal reactivity involving P(+5)=O centers linked to V redox-active cores. Here, we have uncovered that coupling these partners can enable fundamentally new reactivity at the (typically innocent) P=O fragment mimicking a proposed proton-coupled electron transfer pathway involved in industrial alkane C–H activation chemistry. Lastly, our most recent results on an extension of this P=O chemistry will be presented which feature the applied, electrochemically-driven capture and release of U using cluster carborane chemistry.

Asymmetric Catalysis in the Excited State

Who: Prof. Paolo Melchiorre, ICIQ - Avinguda Països Catalans, 16 43007 (Tarragona, Spain), ICREA - Pg. Lluís Companys 23, 08010 (Barcelona, Spain)

When: Dec 18 2019, 1pm

Where: STEM Complex, room 224


The chemical reactivity of electronically excited molecules differs fundamentally from that in the ground state. This is the underlying reactivity concept of photochemistry, which has traditionally allowed the development of unique chemical transformations not achievable via conventional ground-state pathways. For example, an excited-state molecule is both a better electron-donor (i.e. a better reductant) and electron-acceptor (i.e. a better oxidant) than in the ground state. This explains why the light excitation of organic molecules can unlock unconventional reactivity manifolds. In this context, our laboratory has been exploring the potential of some organocatalytic and organometallic intermediates to directly reach an electronically excited state upon visible-light absorption to then switch on novel catalytic functions that are unavailable to ground-state organocatalysis. Studying the mechanism of these photochemical approaches allowed us to expand the synthetic possibilities offered by the excited-state reactivity of organocatalytic intermediates.

Structural underpinnings of ionotropic glutamate receptor activation

Dr. Derek Bowie

Who: Dr. Derek Bowie, Full Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

When: Dec 11 2019, 11:30am – Joins us at 11:15am to meet the speaker and to have a coffee

Where: D’Iorio Hall 214


The Bowie Lab uses a combination of techniques to study ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), GABA-A receptors and more recently, Na+ channels. All ion-channel families are widespread in the vertebrate brain and fulfill many important roles in healthy individuals as well as being implicated in disease states associated with postnatal development (e.g. autism, schizophrenia), cerebral insult (e.g. stroke, epilepsy) and aging disorders (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinsonism).

Shining light on the dark matter of natural products: Structure and function of colibactin

Who: Prof. Seth Herzon, Yale University, Department of Chemistry, New Haven, CT 06520-8107, USA

When: Nov 27 2019, 11:30am – Join us at 11:15am to meet the speaker and to have a coffee

Where: D’Iorio Hall 214


The classical paradigm of large-scale production, isolation, and structural analysis has given us our understanding of almost all known natural products. Yet, advances in metabolomics, bioinformatics, and genetics point to the existence of a parallel natural products universe comprised of metastable, ultra-low abundance metabolites. This dark universe is likely to be far larger than the realm of known compounds, but the chemicals in this space are beyond the reach of classical isolation approaches. A new paradigm is required to find the structures and functions encoded here.

Polyfluorinated carbohydrates: Stereoselective synthesis, conformation, lipophilicity, and biological evaluations

Who: Prof. Denis Giguère, Département de Chimie, 1045 av. De la Médecine, Université Laval, Québec City, QC, Canada G1V 0A6

When: Nov 20 2019, 11:30am – Join us at 11:15am to meet the speaker and to have a coffee

Where: D’Iorio Hall 214


Carbohydrates bearing a fluorine atom in place of a hydroxyl group have found applications as mechanistic probes or to study lectin-carbohydrate interactions. Polyfluorinated carbohydrates could represent a good strategy to improve protein-carbohydrate affinities via desolvation together with attractive dipolar interactions mediated by polar C-F bonds.

Quantum dynamics of confined molecules

Who: Pierre-Nicholas Roy, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Quantum Molecular Dynamics, Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Canada

When: Nov. 14 2019, 2:00 pm

Where: Biosciences Complex, room 140


Molecular assemblies are often described using classical concepts and simulated using Newtonian dynamics or Classical Monte Carlo methods. At low temperatures, this classical description fails to capture the nature of the dynamics of molecules, and a quantum description is required in order to explain and predict the outcome of experiments. In this context, the Feynman path integral formulation of quantum mechanics is a very powerful tool that is amenable to large-scale simulations

Dispersion Interactions in DFT and Application to Molecular Crystal-Structure Prediction

Who: Erin Johnson, Dalhousie University, Department of Chemistry, Halifax (NS), Canada.

When: Nov 11 2019, 11:30am – Join us at 11:15am to meet the speaker and to have a coffee

Where: D’Iorio Hall 214


The exchange-hole dipole moment (XDM) method is a density-functional model of London dispersion based upon second-order perturbation theory. The XDM dispersion coefficients are non-empirical and depend directly on the electron density and related properties, allowing variation of the atomic dispersion coefficients with changing chemical environment. XDM offers simultaneous high accuracy for a diverse range of chemical systems, such as intermolecular complexes, layered materials, surface adsorption, and molecular crystals. In this talk, recent applications of XDM will be presented, with a focus on the use of low-cost and composite approaches for molecular crystal-structure prediction (CSP). In particular, the application of composite methods to chiral helicenes, which have applications in organic electronics, and to selected pharmaceutical compounds will be illustrated. Finally, the effect of the density-functional delocalisation error on CSP is highlighted for organic acid-base co-crystals.

Development of a new Molecular Therapy for Diseases From a Glycoscience Point of View

By Prof. Sachiko Sato, Research Centres for Infectious Diseases, CRCHU de Québec, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Canada

When: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 11:30 am

Where: D'Iorio Hall, room 214


The cell surface of any living organism is covered by thick sugar layers (~140nm), called glycocalyx. Thus, any molecules, microorganisms, or cells first encounter the glycocalyx before they physically interact with the target molecules or cells. Many biological regulations are directly or indirectly regulated by the interaction between oligo (or poly)-saccharides in the glycocalyx and sugar-binding proteins, lectins. In this talk, I will talk about our journey to understand the role of a lectin, called galectin-3 or Mac-2 in infectious diseases and muscular dystrophy. In the first part, I will briefly talk on the role of galectin-3 in the early migration of neutrophils to the site of infection. In the second part, I would like to present our recent results suggesting that a monosaccharide, N-acetylglucosamine increases myogenesis and the force production of muscle of Duchenne muscular dystrophy by augmenting the interaction between galectin-3 and its oligosaccharide ligands. Our findings raise the exciting therapeutic possibility that N-acetylglucosamine might be used as a therapy to mitigate the progression of the muscular dystrophy.

Fagnou Educational Lecture and Workshop

By Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science, The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


When: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 11:30 am

Where: D'Iorio Hall, room 214


When: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 4 pm

Where: CRX, room C030

Remote Functionalization

When: Monday, October 7, 2019 at 11:30 am

Where: D'Iorio Hall, room 214


Combining functionalization at a distant position from a reactive site with the creation of several consecutive stereogenic centers, including the formation of a quaternary carbon stereocenter, in acyclic system represents a pinnacle in organic synthesis. We will present the regioselective Heck arylation of terminal olefins as a distant trigger for the ring-opening of cyclopropanes. This Pd-catalyzed unfolding of strained cycle, driving force of the chain-walking process, remarkably proved its efficiency and versatility, as the reaction proceeded regardless of the molecular distance between the initiation (double bond) and termination (alcohol) sites. Moreover, employing stereodefined polysubstituted cyclopropane vaults allowed to access sophisticated stereo-enriched acyclic scaffolds in good yields. Conceptually, we demonstrated that merging catalytically a chain walking process with a selective C–C bond cleavage represents a powerful approach to construct linear skeleton possessing several stereogenic centers.

New Frontiers in MOFs: From Multi-Stimulus-Responsive Properties to Spintronics

When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

Where: D'Iorio Hall, room 214


Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are crystalline porous materials composed of metal clusters or ions connected by polytopic organic linkers. Their framework structures, pore environment, and functionality make them uniquely tunable by the choice and connection of metal and organic building blocks, allowing the design of innovative materials with customized properties.

Previous Seminars

Fagnou Lecture

Year Speaker
2018 Chris Chang
2018 David Harris
2017 Thomas Maimone
2016 Theo Agapie
2016 Theodore Betley
2015 Neil Garg
2015 Mircea Dinca
2014 Sarah Reisman
2014 Cathleen Crudden
2012 Adam Cohen
2012 Mark MacLachlan

Gilead Lecture

Year Speaker
2019 Cammie Lesser
2017 P.A. Evans
2015 Matt Shair

Lemieux Lecture

Year Speaker
2019 David Liu
2018 Lewis Kay
2016 Timothy Swager
2016 Timothy M. Swager
2016 Craig Crews
2015 Kyriacos C. Nicolaou
2014 Donna Blackmond
2013 Christophe Coperet
2012 Avelino Corma
2012 Eric Herbst
2011 Andrew Myers
2009 Karen Goldberg
2009 Scott Denmark
2007 Daniel Nocera
2005 Barbara Imperiali
2005 Radom
2004 Steve Lippard
2003 Paul Wender
2002 Mostafa El-Sayed
2001 C.N.R.  Rao
2001 Peter Schultz
1999 Allen J. Bard
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