UB chemist named ACS Arthur Cope Scholar

The national award recognizes Professor Sherry Chemler for her contributions to the field of organic chemistry

Release Date: October 24, 2016

Head shot of Sherry Chemler, professor of chemistry.

Sherry Chemler.

Chemler received the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in recognition of her valuable contributions to the field of organic chemistry.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has named Sherry R. Chemler, professor of chemistry in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, as a recipient of the 2017 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, which recognizes excellence in organic chemistry.

She will receive the award, which includes $5,000, a certificate and a $40,000 unrestricted research grant, at the ACS’ annual meeting next August in Washington, D.C.  

Chemler, PhD, joined the UB faculty in 2002 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. Her research has primarily focused on the development of new chemical reactions for the synthesis of chiral nitrogen and oxygen heterocycles — valuable organic compounds that enable drug discovery.  

Her research team, known as the Chemler Research Group, is comprised of 8-10 graduate students, 1-3 undergraduates and one postdoctoral fellow each semester. Its work, which is supported by both the National Institutes of Health and the ACS, focuses on developing and discovering new reactions for organic synthesis with the use of transition metal catalysis. The team also studies the effects of small organic molecules in a biological setting.  

In the lab, students apply readily available chiral copper complexes to serve as Earth-abundant catalysts in a range of remarkable transformations that involve regio and stereocontrolled addition of readily available amines and alcohols to alkenes — a series of unsaturated hydrocarbons containing a double bond.

These reactions involve reactive yet well-behaved organic radical intermediates that can participate in powerful C-H bond functionalization, among other couplings. The novelty of the copper-catalyzed alkene additions is very high.

The Chemler group discovered this unanticipated reactivity and has spent the past decade expanding the scope of the transformations, as well as studying the reaction mechanism in great detail.      

For the past 11 years, the research group has been funded by a National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant (NIH RO1) that provides support for the health-related research and development.

Chemler praises the students and collaborators she has worked with at UB to develop this research program.    

“It is very gratifying for our scientific contributions to be recognized by the American Chemical Society through this Cope Scholar Award,” she says. “I think this really helps underscore the broader impact and significance of our research efforts.”

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