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Organic Chemistry Seminar Series: Mary Watson – University of Delaware
October 2 | 3:45 pm - 4:45 pm
About the Speaker:
Mary P. Watson was born in Massachusetts in 1977 and grew up in Tampa, FL. She completed an A.B. in Chemistry at Harvard University in 2000. During college, she performed undergraduate research with Prof. David A. Evans at Harvard, as well as with Prof. Kenneth B. Wagener at the University of Florida. Under the direction of Prof. Larry E. Overman, she earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 2006 from the University of California, Irvine, working on the development and mechanistic investigation of the palladium(II)-catalyzed asymmetric allylic imidate rearrangement. During the course of this work, she had the opportunity to collaborate with Prof. Robert G. Bergman at the University of California, Berkeley, where she performed kinetic and computational studies. From 2006–2009, she was a National Institutes of Health NRSA postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in Professor Eric N. Jacobsen’s research group, where she developed a nickel-catalyzed method for olefin arylcyanation via activation of C–CN bonds.
In July 2009, she joined the faculty at the University of Delaware, where she has been working with her research group to develop new catalytic methods for the synthesis of organic molecules. Her research has received generous support from the University of Delaware Research Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, the National Institutes of Health (R01, R35, and COBRE programs), the National Science Foundation, Pfizer, and the Department of Energy (EFRC). The impact of her research program has been recognized with the 2023 ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science, a Rising Star award from the Women Chemists’ Committee of the American Chemical Society, a Delaware ACS Section Award, inclusion in the 2017 J. Am. Chem. Soc. Young Investigator Virtual Issue, and as a 2023 ACS Fellow. Mary was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016 and to Professor in 2018 and currently serves as a co-organizer of the annual Empowering Women in Organic Chemistry conference, a responsible editor for Organic Reactions, an Advisory Board Member of OrganicLinks, and the proud mom of two daughters and a Bernese mountain dog.
The Watson group’s research focuses on the discovery of new methods for organic synthesis. They develop non-traditional electrophiles for transition metal-catalyzed reactions with an eye towards enantioselectivity, stereospecificity, and new feedstocks for cross-couplings. Their goal is greater efficiency and novel bond constructions in the synthesis of valuable molecules.