RSC Prize Lecture: Professor William D. Jones

30 October 2017, 2.00 PM - 30 October 2017, 3.00 PM

Professor William D. Jones


"Why Do Weaker Metal-Carbon Bonds Lead to More Stable Complexes? What's Going On?"
Professor William D Jones, Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, New York


Over the past 20 years substantial progress has been made in the understanding of the activation of C-H and other strong bonds by reactive metal complexes in low oxidation states. This talk will present an overview of the use of pentamethylcyclopentadienyl and trispyrazolylborate rhodium complexes for the determination of thermodynamic factors that influence the activation of arene and alkane C-H bonds. Insights into bond strengths, kinetic and thermodynamic selectivities, and the nature of the intermediates involved will be examined. The influence of substituent effects on the thermodynamics of bond activations will also be analyzed. Trends in the effects of ligand donor strength on C-H activation will be examined. Recent work in acceptorless dehydrogenation reactions will also be presented. A novel route for conversion of ethanol to butanol will also be presented.


William D. Jones was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1953, and was inspired to work in inorganic chemistry as an undergraduate researcher with Mark S. Wrighton at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS, 1975). He obtained a Ph.D. degree in chemistry at California Institute of Technology (1979), working with Robert G. Bergman and completing his final year at Berkeley. He moved to the University of Wisconsin as an NSF postdoctoral fellow with 2004 ACS President Chuck Casey, and in 1980 accepted a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1984 and Professor in 1987, and is now the Charles F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry. Professor Jones has received several awards, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1984), a Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award (1985), a Royal Society Guest Research Fellowship (1988), a Fulbright-Hays Scholar (1988), a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow (1988), the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry (2003), and an ACS Cope Scholar Award (2009). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. He also has served as an Associate Editor for J. Am. Chem. Soc. since 2003. Professor Jones' research interests include organometallic research in strong C-X bond cleavage, catalysis, model studies, mechanisms, kinetics, thermodynamics, and synthetic applications.

Relevant publications

“Rhodium-Carbon Bond Energies in Tp'Rh(CNneopentyl)(CH2X)H: Quantifying Stabilization Effects in M-C Bonds,” Yunzhe Jiao, Meagan E. Evans, James Morris, William W. Brennessel, and William D. Jones. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 6994–7004. (DOE) doi: 10.1021/ja400966y

“Well-Defined Iron Catalysts for the Acceptorless Reversible Dehydrogenation-Hydrogenation of Alcohols and Ketones,” Sumit Chakraborty, Paraskevi O. Lagaditis, Moritz Förster, Elizabeth A. Bielinski, Nilay Hazari, Max C. Holthausen, William D. Jones and Sven Schneider, ACS Catal. 2014, 4, 3994-4003. (CETM-ESD) doi: 10.1021/cs5009656

“Highly Selective Formation of n-Butanol from Ethanol through the Guerbet Process: A Tandem Catalytic Approach,” Sumit Chakraborty, Paige E. Piszel, Cassandra E. Hayes, R. Tom Baker, and William D. Jones, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 14264-14267. (CENTC) DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b10257


Contact information

Professor Paul Pringle
School of Chemistry
Cantock's Close

Tel: +44 (0) 117 928 8114

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