W.M. Keck Science Professor Anna Wenzel Wins National Science Foundation Grant

Claremont, Calif. (February 23, 2012) — Assistant Professor of Chemistry Anna Wenzel has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation for her independent research project, “RUI: The Development and Application of Gold(I) Catalysts for Asymmetric Organic Transformations.” Wenzel teaches chemistry at Pitzer College’s W.M. Keck Science Department.

The research project responds to a growing demand for mild, selective and sustainable synthetic routes for the preparation of organic molecules, Wenzel said. The use of catalysis is a tenet of green chemistry since it promotes reaction efficiency and waste reduction in commercial processes. In particular, gold catalysis has the potential to dramatically improve the preparation of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and other materials, she said.

“The proposed research addresses a fundamental need for readily available, ‘user friendly’ catalysts,” Wenzel said.

In January, Wenzel and her research team also published an article in the journal Tetrahedron Letters titled “A Copper(II)-catalyzed Sequential Michael-Aldol Reaction for the Preparation of 1,2-Dihydroquinoline Carboxylic Acid Derivatives.” Dihydroquinolines represent a molecule class known to have a wide range of pharmaceutical applications, such as anti-malarial agents and nicotine agonists. In this report, undergraduate researchers discovered that a copper salt could effectively prepare dihydroquinolines in one step from readily accessible starting materials.

The W.M. Keck Science Department is a program of Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College and Scripps College.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About the W.M. Keck Science Department

The W.M. Keck Science Department is the interdisciplinary home to all biology, chemistry, and physics faculty for Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps colleges. The department is administered cooperatively and is housed within an 81,000-square-foot center located at the intersection of the three colleges. The department offers 13 discrete degree options, including dual-degree programs in partnership with schools of engineering and majors in conjunction with disciplines outside the sciences. The W.M. Keck Science Department provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary instruction in small class settings and numerous opportunities for students to conduct research.

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