Diene Semihydrogenation

Dr. Brian C. Goess Dr. Brian C. GoessDepartment of Chemistry
Furman University
Regioselective Semihydrogenation of Dienes

Dr. Brian Goess is a synthetic organic chemist whose research project dealing with a general strategy for the direct regioselective semihydrogenation of dienes has been supported by an ACS-PRF Undergraduate (UR) Grant. Dr. Goess, an assistant Professor at Furman University, indicates that prior to his work there was no "generalized strategy for the direct regioselective selective semihydrogenation of dienes that is selective for the more highly substituted alkene of a differentially substituted diene." Not only will his work facilitate a number of complex synthesis problems, but also as it is a very facile, useful synthesis that can be done in "one pot," it has led to the development of the teaching tool of an undergraduate chemistry laboratory exercise. The laboratory exercise which is being used at Furman University is also being published in the Journal of Chemical Education.

To explain the synthesis process he developed and the significance of his work, Dr. Goess suggests that you imagine a reaction path which leads to "intermediates with two similar parts but only one [needs to be selected] to undergo the next reaction." As he analogizes, it is a problem like "putting a pie in the oven, baking one half and leaving the other half unbaked." Dr. Goess’ research has led to a method that not only is a general strategy for resolving this complex problem, but also allows for a series of reactions to be accomplished without removing the reaction mixture from the reaction pot and/or isolating intermediate reaction products. He states that the method will solve many research problems including "problems you haven’t even imagined" yet.

Dr. Goess, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard, cites many benefits in addition to the scientific accomplishment that have flowed from the ACS-PRF Grant. These include the fact that undergraduate students leave Furman with an "authentic synthetic organic experience" and that ACS-PRF Grants have facilitated his career development including getting tenure, a University supported sabbatical, and an NSF-RUI Grant.

The present ACS-PRF grant is Dr. Goess’s second ACS-PRF grant. He drafted his first PRF grant as he was preparing to interview for his first academic position, and received a new investigator grant. He states that composing a description of his proposed research in the funding agency format forced him to "focus on the proposed research, think critically about the project, and organize." Not only did this assist him in successful interviews and obtaining the position at Furman, but upon receiving the appointment, he filed the ACS-PRF grant application and received funding. He further states that for young faculty members "knowing that PRF is willing to take a risk in supporting them is an incredibly motivating force."

Grant #50719-UR1: Read Goess' Annual Report