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  • Donald A. Watson, Professor

    University of Delaware
    202 Lammot DuPont Laboratory
    Newark, DE 19716
    (302) 831-8728


    (b. 1976) B.S., 1998 University of California, San Diego; Ph.D., 2004 University of California, Irvine; NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 2004 – 2006, University of California, Berkeley; Postdoctoral Fellow, 2006 – 2009, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Research Overview

    The D. A. Watson Group is focused on the invention of new chemical reactions and their applications in organic synthesis. We choose to work in this area as organic chemistry is central to modern scientific endeavor, including in such critical areas as the treatment of human disease (providing the tools to synthesize new medicines), understanding of biological processes (providing probes and methods to interrogate biochemical pathways), and the development of advanced materials (providing the building blocks from which they are derived). Advancements in these areas, as well as many others, require new, complex organic molecules and the ability to prepare them. Our group works to invent new, more efficient methods to prepare compounds, which help drive advancements across the spectrum of modern science.

    Transition-metal catalysis plays a central role in our work, and lies at the heart of many of the methods that we have invented. Our approach combines expertise in catalyst development and organometallic chemistry with insight deep insight into the needs of organic synthesis and complex molecule construction. In this context, we have been particularly focused on the invention of new methods to introduce heteroatoms into non-aromatic organic molecules. The products of these reactions are important intermediates in chemical synthesis, as well as critical structural elements in biologically active molecules.Further details about our work, as well as information about current projects, can be found on our research website:

    Representative Publications

    • McAtee, J. R.; Yap, G. P. A.; Watson, D. A. "Rational Design of a Second Generation Catalyst for Preparation of Allylsilanes Using the Silyl-Heck Reaction" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 10166-10172.
    • Reid, W. B.; Spillane, J. J.; Krause, S. B.; Watson, D. A. "Direct Synthesis of Alkenyl Boronic Esters from Unfunctionalized Alkenes: A Boryl-Heck Reaction" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 5539-5542.
    • Shuler, S. A.; Yin, G.; Krause, S. B.; Vesper, C. M.; Watson, D. A. "Synthesis of Secondary Unsaturated Lactams via an Aza-Heck Reaction" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 13830-13833.
    • Cinderella, A. P.; Vulovic, B.; Watson, D. A. "Palladium-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling of Silyl Electrophiles with Alkylzinc Halides: A Silyl-Negishi Reaction" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 7741-7744.
    • Rezazadeh, S.; Devannah, V.; Watson, D. A. "Nickel-Catalyzed C-Alkylation of Nitroalkanes with Unactivated Alkyl Iodides" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 8110-8113.



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  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 102 Brown Laboratory
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-1247
  • Undergraduate Program Inquiries 302-831-2465