Chemistry @ Dal
Dalhousie University

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Dr. Alison Thompson, Faculty of Science Killam Professor of Chemistry
Education: B.Sc. Hons I; I was an undergraduate at the University of Leicester in the UK (long before Leicester City won the Premier League); I gained my Ph.D. at the University of Sheffield in the UK with Dr. Varinder Aggawal; PDF in Strasbourg (Prof. Solladie-Cavallo) in France, and then UBC (Dr. David Dolphin) in Vancouver.

Research: In my Ph.D. I learned that if the product wasn't white and wasn't crystalline then it couldn't possibly be pure; this limited knowledge was turned on its head when I started working with polypyrroles - stunning oranges, purples, reds, and sometimes even black. My research group develops synthetic methodology to make new types of functional pyrroles and polypyrroles in elegant ways; we complex many of our polypyrroles and investigate their optical properties or bioactivity. We have many hundreds of pyrroles in our lab, but there is always the need for a few more.

Publications: Our publications link has my full record.

Fun Facts: I have two children; we have a dog; I ride my bike to work; I swim a lot; I enjoy making things from yarn or anything else that inspires - my current project is a crocheted blanket that resembles the landscape of a farm (brown ridges for a ploughed field, yellow corn field, blended green and yellow hay field, red for the barn; you get the idea).

Michael Beh, PhD Student
Education: HBSc Chemistry: I was an undergraduate at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON.

Research: I began working with dipyrrins, specifically F-BODIPY dyes. F-BODIPY compounds are brilliantly coloured both in solution and as solids, quite a sight what I was familiar with in organic chemistry. I started looking at the synthesis of these compounds and how sensitive they were to non-anhydrous conditions. I have since finished that project and moved on to two others dealing more with monopyrroles. One project is working towards building sulfur-bridged dipyrroles with the goal of synthesizing a sulfur-bridged tetrapyrrole. The other project focuses on a group of specifically substituted monopyrroles and the mechanism behind their formation.

Awards: NSHRF Scotia Support Grant, MSc Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship, Douglas E. Ryan Prize

Recent Conference Presentation: Robust Synthesis of FBODIPYs Beh, M.H.R.; Douglas, K.I.B.; House, K.T.E.; Murphy, A.C.; Sinclair, J.S.T.; Thomspon, A. 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, May 2017, Toronto, ON.

Robust Synthesis of F-BODIPYs. Michael Helmut Reynolds Beh, Katherine Isabelle Biehn Douglas, Kelsey Taylor Elver House, Alexandra Celeste Murphy, Jackson Scott Testemale Sinclair and Alison Thompson*. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2016, in press, OB-ART-10-2016-002238.R1.

Recent Conference Poster:
Mechanistic Studies in the Synthesis of Symmetrical Dipyrrins. Beh, M.H.R.; Lund, K.A.R.; Kajetanowicz, A.; Thompson, A. 99th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, June 2016, Halifax, NS.

Fun Facts: I'm a big fan of games, movies, and TV shows. I'm a big fan of hiking, canoeing, and camping. I bike to school everyday. Dogs are the best thing ever and cats are OK too I guess.

  Sarah Davies (Greening), PhD Student
Education: B.Sc. Chemistry; I was an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida (Dr. Howard Miles) and currently pursing graduate work with Dr. Alison Thompson, at Dalhousie University.

Research: At the University of Central Florida, I worked with the natural product, podocarpic acid. The work involved copper-catalyzed cross coupling reactions with thiols to develop novel compounds with potential as new drug leads. In the Thompson group, current work involves F-BODIPY synthesis and study of the photophysical properties of prodigiosenes, a synthetic analog to the natural, biologically active product, prodigiosin.

Awards: Anna Wilson Scholarship, Dalhousie President's Graduate Teaching Assistant Award

Recent Conference Presentation: 8th MNPC 2016 (Halifax, Canada). "Prodigiosene F-BODIPYs: Synthesis and Characterization"

Asymmetric diapyrrin and F-BODIPYs conjugated to terminal alkynes and alkenes. Figliola, C.; Robertson, K.; Greening, S; Thompson, A. J. Org. Chem., 2017

Recent Conference Posters:
Prodigiosene F-BODIPYs: Synthesis and Characterization. Greening, S.; Thompson, A. 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, May 2017, Toronto, ON.

Prodigiosene F-BODIPYs: Synthesis and Characterization. Davies, S.; Thompson, A. BHCRI/TFRI Cancer Research Conference in Atlantic Canada, November 2016, Halifax, NS.

Prodigiosene: A Synthetic Natural Product with Significant Biological Activity and Potential as a Molecular Probe. Greening, S.; Thompson, A. 99th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, June 2016, Halifax, NS.

Synthesis, Characterization & Photophysical Properties of Prodigiosene F-BODIPYs. Greening, S.; Thompson, A. 41st Annual Science Atlantic/CIC Student Chemistry Conference, June 2016, Halifax, NS.

Fun Facts: I love animals, reading & coloring. I currently have 3 cats & 2 dogs; my favorite author is Terry Goodkind; and I have to resist the urge to buy a new adult coloring book every time I see one in a shop. I also enjoy the sun (having lived many years in Florida) and board games.

Roberto Diaz-Rodriquez, Honours Undergraduate Student
Education: Entering my fourth year of a B.Sc. Honors in Chemistry at Dalhousie University.

Research: Currently investigating methodologies for attaching functional groups to the boron of aza-BODIPYs.

Awards: IB Renewable Scholarship

Fun Facts: Music is one of my great passions; I am a big fan of progressive metal, play a couple of instruments and enjoy making effects pedals for electric instruments in my free time. Bit of a geek and a huge League of Legends fan, and also love cycling.

  Luke Burke, Honors Undergraduate Student 
Education: I am going into my fourth year of a B.Sc (Honours in Chemistry) at Dalhousie University.

Research: My previous undergraduate research involved low temperature production of graphite as an anode material for Lithium ion batteries, and my current research is focused on a novel synthesis route for the production of symmetrical and non-symmetrical aza-dipyrrins.

M.N. Obrovac, Xiuyun Zhao, L.T. Burke, R.A. Dunlap, Reversible Lithium Insertion in Catalytically Graphitized Sugar Carbon, Electrochem. Commun., 60 (2015), 221-224.

Awards: NSERC USRA 2015, 2016, Kenneth and Dorothy Hayes Memorial Prize and Norbert Wolter Memorial Scholarship

Fun Facts: I enjoy playing hockey and tennis, as well as taking my dog to the lake and lounging on the beach.

Min Kim, Honors Undergraduate Student 
: I am going into fourth year (undergraduate) at Dalhousie University.

Research: Last year (summer of 2015), my project involved probing different reduction methods that could transform pyrrole aldehydes into amides. Also, I learned how to make pyrroles with different functional groups such as aldehydes, esters, and amides. Currently, I am working on the synthesis of various dipyrrins and BODIPYs from simple pyrroles.

Awards: Laing's Award, Faye Sobey Award, Canadian Society for Chemistry Silver Medal and Norbert Wolter Memorial Scholarship

Fun Facts: I play piano and enjoy watching The Voice!

Brandon Groves, PhD Student

Education: Dalhousie University: Ph.D. Organic Chemistry (Expected graduation, 2017), Thesis Title: "The Synthesis of Prodigiosene-Based Anticancer Reagents and Development of Reactions for Dipyrrin-Based Molecules"; St. Francis Xavier University: B. Sc. Chemistry with First Class Honours (2011), Thesis Title: "Exploration of Chiral Induction in Tetrabenzoate Diruthenium(II,III) Complexes via Chiral Diphosphine Ligands"

Research: My current research interests are broad, and are best described as focused on the chemistry of pyrrole and its extended frameworks (prodigiosenes, dipyrrins and F-BODIPYs). My most recently finalized projects include decarboxylative coupling of mono-pyrroles, manipulation of alpha-methyl substituted dipyrrins, and the synthesis of F-BODIPYs via use of Lawesson's reagent from mono-pyrrolic starting materials. My long-term goals involve training in the field of medicinal chemistry, with the goal of pursuing a career in pharmaceutical development.

Highly-substituted N-protected pyrroles under Pd-catalysed decarboxylative cross-coupling. Figliola, C; Groves, B. R.; Thompson, A. In Progress.

Reactivity of the 1-methyl functionality of dipyrrins. Groves, B. R; Thompson A. In Progress.

Synthesis and evaluation of folate-conjugated prodigiosenes. Figliola, C.; Marchal, E.; Groves, B. R.; Savoie, H.; Boyle R. W.; Thompson, A. Submitted to Bioconjugate Chem., April 2016.

Thionation reactions of 2-pyrrole carboxylates. Groves, B. R.; Smithen, D. A.; Cameron, T. S.; Thompson, A. RSC Adv., 2016, 6, 69691.

Recent Conference Presentation:
1. Groves, B. R.; Smithen, D. A. Cameron, T.S.; Thompson, A. "Thionation of a-Ester Pyrroles and Application in the Synthesis of F-BODIPYs." 99th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, 2016, Oral Presentation.

2. Groves, B. R.; Thompson, A. "Functionalization of a-Methyl Substituted Dipyrrins." 98th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, 2015, Poster Presentation.

Synthesis and Applications of Dipyrrins
Brandon's Papers, Conference Posters and Presentations

Bruce and Dorothy Rossetti Traineeship in Cancer Research: Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, September 2017 - September 2019 ($36,750 per annum).

Postgraduate Scholarship: NSERC, May 2014 - April 2017 ($17,500 per annum).

Level 2 Izaak Walton Killam Predoctoral Scholarship: Killam Trusts, September 2013 - September 2017 ($25,000 per annum).

Fun Facts: In my spare time, I enjoy playing tennis with my wife and-old step-daughter, as well as playing pick-up hockey as frequently as possible.
Travis Lundrigan, PhD Student

Synthesis and Applications of Dipyrrins
Travis's Papers, Conference Posters and Presentations