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  • 02/18/19

    Courtney C. Roberts, Ph.D., joins Department of Chemistry faculty

Courtney C. Roberts, Ph.D., is joining the Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor, starting in mid-summer 2019.  

Currently, Roberts is a post-doctoral research fellow, working with Professor Melanie Sanford at the University of Michigan, and exploring C–H functionalization reactions using high valent Ni. She earned her doctorate in 2016 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was the first graduate student in the laboratory of Professor Simon Meek, where she developed rhodium olefin hydrofunctionalization catalysts using a new class of ligands called carbodicarbenes. Roberts also conducted research as an undergraduate at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. She worked with Minnesota alumnus Professor Joe Fritsch on developing ring-opening polymerization catalysts, and graduated with Cum Laude honors.

Students in the Roberts group will gain skills in both synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry as well as mechanistic studies. Roberts started her career as an inorganic/polymer chemist and continued it as organic/organometallic chemist and feels it is important to learn skills in multiple disciplines.

Roberts’ broad research interests include energy and catalysis, inorganic and organometallic chemistry, and organic chemistry, utilizing fundamental organometallic and inorganic chemistry to develop new organic reactions. Research in her group will focus on using readily available starting materials and designing new catalytic cycles in order to utilize them to generate more complex products. Projects include:

  • Project 1: C–C Coupling with Early Transition Metals - Early transition metals have long been known to perform facile C–H activation but these C–H activated intermediates are often underutilized. Work in Roberts’ group will be on the development of new C–C coupling reactions utilizing these intermediates.
  • Project 2: Radical Cross Electrophile Coupling - The group will be working on new methods for cross electrophile coupling to stereoselectively generate alkyl-alkyl bonds. Researchers will develop exciting new catalytic cycles for this transformation through understanding the relationship between fundamental organometallic chemistry to organic synthesis.
  • Project 3: Aryne Difunctionalization Catalysis - Arynes are potent electrophiles that are widely used in the synthesis of biologically active molecules. Reactions involving these intermediates are often plagued with poor selectivity. Researchers will use transition metal catalysis to control selectivity and expand the scope of possible difunctionalization reactions with arynes.

In addition to her research, Roberts brings a wealth of experience as a mentor, engaging in a number of mentorship, teaching, and leadership opportunities starting as an undergraduate. She is also first-author or co-author about more than 10 published research articles, and has made seven presentations on her research.

Outside of lab, Roberts enjoys cheering for University of North Carolina basketball and playing weekly trivia. She is excited to live in a city again and looks forward to cheering on the Golden Gophers.