Curriculum Vitae
Group Members

Martin F. Semmelhack
361 Frick Laboratory
Princeton, NJ 08544
Lab #: 303
Office: 609-258-5501
Lab #1: 609-258-6164
Lab #2: 609-258-6165

Updated 3/12/07
Chrissy Carroll


Chemistry Department Graduate Student Course Catalog

CHM 531:Advanced Organic Chemistry

Geared toward graduate students interested in synthetic organic chemistry, the course covers general strategies for the stereocontrolled formation of carbon-carbon bonds as well as basic concepts in physical organic chemistry that shed light on regio- and stereo-control in organic reactions.

FRS 146
Chemistry in the Modern World
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You are doing organic chemistry as you read these words: your eyes are making a subtle structural change in cis-retinal to register the reflected light; your muscles are breaking bonds in sugar molecules to give you the energy needed to turn the page; your brain cells are being bridged by association with serotonin to record the information. These elements of biological organic chemistry are mirrored by the macroscopic aspects of organic chemistry that play a huge role in our “quality of life,” such as petroleum and energy, good drugs and bad drugs, food and nutrition, and chemical control in the environment. An educated person these days should have some ability to comprehend and evaluate new developments in organic chemistry especially as they relate to societal issues and policies. It is not necessary to be a chemist or have a strong background in math, physics, biology, or chemistry in order to understand these phenomena. In this seminar, basic concepts will be presented in the context of four topics in organic chemistry and the implications for “quality of life” will be part of the discussion. Laboratory experiments will be both real and virtual, seeing and handling organic molecules at macroscopic and molecular levels.

The topics include hydrocarbons, the organic molecules that permit energy generation and provide the raw materials for organic synthesis to make fibers, material, drugs, etc. We will explore issues such as petroleum depletion and alternative energy sources as well as our reliance on synthetic materials. Next, we will work with the main molecules of nature -- proteins, DNA, and carbohydrates -- made of repeating units of carbon structures with a few added oxygen and nitrogen atoms. We will do a case study of one large molecule which functions as a catalyst, an enzyme that holds two smaller molecules gently and causes them to combine.

Another topic will be pharmaceuticals -- the intersection of organic chemistry and biology. The focus will be on another case study: how to find a drug to stop a virus. The development of drugs to manage the HIV virus is one of the greatest pharmaceutical success stories in recent times, heavily based on frontier biological chemistry, and brings up strong societal issues. Last, we will examine the chemistry of herbicides and insecticides and explore their environmental effects. We will discuss the adverse effects of these persistent chemical structures on animal life, and we will learn how to test and measure those effects. We may also evaluate alternative approaches to insect control such as chemical communication among organisms.

In the lab, we will synthesize a drug (aspirin) and a high-energy molecule of the type that leads to light emission from fireflies. Other labs will be centered on computer work, where molecules such as the enzyme catalysts can be visualized and analyzed. There will be four qualitative laboratory reports.

Readings will be from popular and original literature, and there will be one paper submitted at the end of the term.

Chemistry Department