Catalytic Asymmetric alpha-Alkylation of Azlactones with Alkenes – Now In Press

For the past two years the Engle lab has been hard at work developing effective strategies to control enantioselectivity in catalytic directed alkene hydrofunctionalization and 1,2-difunctionalization. Today, a new method for enantioselective α-alkylation of azlactones with non-conjugated alkenes via Pd(II)/chiral phosphoric acid catalysis was accepted for publication in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (click here). This unique transformation enables preparation of highly functionalized quaternary α-amino acids. In collaboration with Prof. Peng Liu, we performed a series of detailed experimental and computational studies to elucidate a viable model to explain stereoinduction in which the CPA plays the dual role of coordinating to the incoming carbon nucleophile during reversible carbopalladation and then serving as a proton transfer mediator in the turnover-limiting protodepalladation step. Congrats to all of the authors from the Engle lab—Sri, Mingyu, Malkanthi, De-Wei, and Omar! Thanks too to Prof. Liu and Dr. Jason Chen from the Automated Synthesis facility at Scripps Research. In case anyone missed it, a pre-print of this work was published on ChemRxiv back in early November (click here).


Van wins 2019 WCC/Merck Research Award

Congrats to superstar G3 student and Van Tran on being selected for the 2019 WCC/Merck Research Award. The WCC/Merck award recognizes 8 outstanding female scientists across the country and provides them with the opportunity to present their research along with fellow awardees at a special session at the Fall ACS Meeting in San Diego. In the Engle lab, Van’s research has focused on nickel-catalyzed conjunctive cross coupling (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 10657) and on palladium-catalyzed strong-bond activation via β-X elimination (Nat. Chem. 2018, 10, 1126). Outside of the lab, Van serves as Advocacy Co-Chair for the Scripps Network for Women in Science (NWiS). Thanks to Merck for the their support, and way to go Van!


Xiaohan finishes her internship

Xiaohan finishes her six-month internship this week, just in time to return home to spend Chinese New Year with her family. Xiaohan gave an awesome wrap-up talk describing her work on enantioselective directed carboboration of alkenes, and then the lab sent her off in style with a celebratory Korean BBQ lunch. Xiaohan will receive her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry this spring from Nankai University, and she will then return to the US next fall to begin her PhD (exact location still TBD). Thanks for all of your contributions to the lab, Xiaohan! We will miss you!