Today’s grad-school feature is Karl Scheidt of Northwestern. Northwestern’s been my dream school to attend since I was in high school; however some deep-seated laziness (and cost-based rationalizing) prevented me from ever filling out the application.
Anyway, in a nutshell, Scheidt’s group explores new methodologies for total synthesis of natural products. How inspiringly unique :-). That doesn’t mean there isn’t any interesting chemistry going on in the group, of course. They recently published a JOC communication describing an enantioselective synthesis of substituted cyclopentenes that proceeds through an N-heterocyclic carbene catalyst. Addition of the carbene to 1 promotes an aldol reaction that leads to the beta-lactone shown, which loses carbon dioxide to form the cyclopentene enantioselectively. A picture is worth a thousand words: