Research Overview

Research in the Lewis group focuses on identifying solutions to challenging synthetic problems through the development of new catalysts for a variety of key chemical transformations.  Small molecule transition metal catalysts, enzymes, and artificial metalloenzymes are being explored toward this end and comprise the three major areas of emphasis within the group.

Developing these new functional materials requires a dynamic and highly interdisciplinary research environment. There are opportunities for rigorous training in organic and organometallic synthesis, protein engineering and evolution, molecular biology, structural and biophysical characterization of proteins, and computational modeling. Students are encouraged to exploit all of these tools to develop new catalysts for fundamentally important chemical transformations.

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Project Areas

Protein Engineering and Directed Evolution

Enzymes are increasingly employed for chemical synthesis due to their high catalytic efficiency, high regio- and stereoselectivity, and extremely mild operating conditions. Perhaps the most attractive feature of these catalysts however, is their ability to be systematically optimized for a particular application using directed evolution (Fig. 1A). Thus, while the activity of a given enzyme may… Read More

Artificial Metalloenzymes

Many powerful reactions, particularly those catalyzed by non-biological metals, are not found in nature, so systems that combine the reactivity of metal catalysts with the evolvability and specificity of enzymes are highly sought after. To expand the scope of reactions are developing new classes of artificial metalloenzymes (ArMs), hybrid constructs comprised of protein scaffolds and… Read More

Transition Metal Catalysis

New catalytic methods to functionalize C-H bonds continue to emerge at a rapid pace due to the potential improvements in both atom and step efficiency that these transformations could exhibit over traditional synthetic approaches.  We are investigating the use of dual catalyst systems to enable remote functionalization of unactivated C-H bonds (Fig. 1A).  Ultimately, we… Read More