One of the major issues facing humankind is the sustainable use of global resources. This is especially true in the field of chemical catalysis which faces the twin challenges of i) developing catalysts that are highly efficient in terms of energy use and product formation, and ii) the make-up of the catalysts themselves which should be composed of sustainable materials. As such our work has focused on using base-metals such as iron, cobalt, nickel, and manganese as a key catalytic component.
In order to influence the base metal in multi-electron reactions we have developed several ligand frameworks to support these transformations. For example, a multi-dentate nitrogen pyrrole ligand containing a hydrogen bonding secondary coordination sphere has influenced the catalytic reduction of oxyanions like perchlorate, nitrate, nitrite, and selenate with iron. Whereas an electron-rich bis(carbene) ligand on cobalt has been shown to mediate well-defined two-electron chemistry featuring oxidative addition and reduction elimination. The cobalt catalyst is capable of hydrosilylation, hydroboration, and hydrogenations of olefins, alkynes, and nitriles. The use of parahydrogen to describe the mechanism of olefin and alkyne hydrogenation as well as a parahydrogen induced polarization catalyst will be presented.
Taken together, the synergy of the ligand and metal center play an important role in the catalytic transformations of multi-electron and multi-proton transformations.
Bio: Professor Fout received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Gannon University in 2002 and a M.S. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2004. In 2009 she received her Ph.D. from Indiana University and was the 2010 recipient of the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Young Investigator Award for her research at Indiana. From 2009-2012 she was both a Mary Fieser and NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. Alison joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012. Her research has been recognized by several awards, including the NSF and DOE Early Career awards, the Sloan Research Fellowship, the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Emergent Investigator in Bioinorganic Chemistry Award.