Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Faculty: Michael Young, Ph.D.

Michael YoungAssociate Professor 
Office: WO 3266B
Phone: (419) 530-1524

Professional Background:
B.S. 2006: Western Carolina University
M.S. 2008: Western Carolina University
Ph.D. 2014: University of California – Riverside
Postdoctoral: University of Texas – Austin

Group Website

Research Interests
Organic, Organometallic, Green Chemistry

Research Synopsis:
Research in the Young lab will focus on applying supramolecular principles towards greener transition metal catalysis with a special emphasis on C-H functionalization. Our goals can be divided into three major areas:

1. Hydrogen bond-directing strategies for allowing late-stage functionalization of complex molecules: In this area we intend to develop a library of catalysts that will allow us to functionalize specific C-H bonds on complex substrates using simple oxygen and sulfur-based endogenous functional groups as handles. This will allow us to begin with sustainable, naturally-derived substrates to prepare new derivatives for biological screening and ultimately to produce new compounds of therapeutic interest with considerably less waste than traditional de novo strategies.

2. Kinetic stabilization of reactive metals: Low valent, low coordinate transition metals are often highly reactive in a variety of catalytic systems. This also means they can readily decompose or undergo side reactions unless they have bulky ligands to protect them. These ligands often require lengthy syntheses, and are usually not recyclable. If instead these transition metals are protected inside of a supramolecular host, it should be possible to kinetically stabilize them without the need for a bulky ligand periphery. Our goal here will be to support these highly reactive complexes inside of metal-organic frameworks. This can both extend the catalytic function of the transition metal, while the ligands themselves should enjoy better recycling than their contemporary counterparts.

3. Polymer precursors from sustainable sources via bimetallic C-H/small molecule activation: Nylon-type polymers are highly valued for their strength and versatility, yet the synthesis of the monomers for these compounds typically require harsh conditions and reagents, not to mention significant amounts of energy. Our goal will be to convert renewable substrates, such as triacyl glycerols and their constituent fatty acids into polyacid or aminoacid species that may allow more sustainable nylon polymers. To do this we will target catalysts that can activate C-H bonds while subsequently activating CO2 or ammonia.

Last Updated: 6/27/22