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  • 04/04/17

    Professor Que receives 2017 American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry

Regents Professor Lawrence “Larry” Que Jr. received the 2017 American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry, Tuesday, April 4, at the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.
Regents Professor Lawrence “Larry” Que Jr. received the 2017 American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry, Tuesday, April 4, at the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.

Regents Professor Lawrence “Larry” Que Jr. received the 2017 American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry, Tuesday, April 14 at the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco. He was recognized for his many contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry that have profoundly impacted the understanding of the nature and reactivity of high-valent iron centers.

Que’s research is aimed at elucidating the oxygen activation mechanisms of nonheme iron enzymes, designing functional models for such enzymes, trapping and characterizing reaction intermediates, and developing bio-inspired oxidation catalysts for green chemistry applications. His research efforts have strongly influenced the way scientists think about the activation of dioxygen by iron centers in non-porphyrin ligand environments and the nature and properties of the high-valent iron-oxo species involved in these oxidations. His accomplishments have placed him among the most important practitioners of bioinorganic chemistry in the world with ramifications in biochemistry, homogeneous and heterogeneous oxidation catalysis, and organic synthesis methodology. 

Some highlights from his research in the area of high-valent iron-oxo chemistry in nonheme ligand environments include:

  • reporting the first crystal structure of an iron(IV)-oxo complex, which led to the reporting of more than 60 iron(IV)-oxo complexes by his and other groups;
  • obtaining the first crystal structure of an iron(IV)-oxo complex in its elusive high-spin state found in nonheme iron enzymes;
  • incorporating a halide ligand into the high-spin iron(IV)-oxo complex and generating a species that halogenates cyclohexane in high yield, serving as an excellent functional model for nonheme iron halogenases;
  • introducing the famous Fe(III)Fe(IV) diamond core complex, which has enriched the understanding of how high-valent diferryl complexes may differ from their mononuclear counterparts;
  • showing that the Fe(III)Fe(IV) complex can be oxidized to the Fe(IV)Fe(IV) state by using a more electron-rich version of the original supporting tripodal ligand;
  • opening the Fe(III)Fe(IV) diamond core by anions to afford X–FeIII–O–FeIV=O derivatives, resulting in a remarkable 107-fold increase in C–H bond cleavage reactivity, leading to the conjecture that the diamond core MMO-Q, the active species of the enzyme methane monooxygenase, may undergo a similar core opening to be able to hydroxylate methane. 

Que also has made significant advances in the area of bio-inspired oxidation catalysis, most notably in identifying nonheme iron catalysts that use H2O2 as oxidant and are capable of stereospecific alkane hydroxylation and enantioselective olefin cis-dihydroxylation, the latter being the first example of an iron-catalyzed transformation. 

He has published nearly 500 papers in books and top journals such as Science, Nature Chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, Inorganic Chemistry, and Biochemistry. These papers have collectively garnered more than 37,000 citations (Google Scholar), corresponding to an h-index of 102. Since 1984, Que has accepted more than 130 invitations to speak at national and international meetings, including 20 plenary or keynote presentations, and has presented more than 230 seminars at academic and industrial institutions. He also has seven patents.

In addition to his research, Professor Que is an outstanding teacher and mentor. Forty-five students have received their doctorates under his tutelage, and he has served as research adviser to 80 post-doctoral associates. Fifty of his former group members hold academic positions in colleges, universities or research institutes. In recognition of his teaching and mentorship, he has been honored with the University of Minnesota’s Award for Outstanding Contributions in Post-Baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.

His research accomplishments have been recognized by the Japan Society of Coordination Chemistry International Award (2015); John C. Bailar Jr. Medal (2012); Royal Society of Chemistry Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms Award (2011); American Chemical Society Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry (2008); and Frontiers in Biological Chemistry Award from the Max-Planck-Institut für Bioanorganishe Chemie (2005).

He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to his outstanding research and mentoring contributions, Que has contributed to the inorganic chemistry community by organizing national and international meetings and serving as chief editor of the Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry since 2000. 

Que earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Louis Pignolet and did postdoctoral research with Richard Holm at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Eckard Münck at the Gray Freshwater Biological Institute of the University of Minnesota. He joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota in 1983.