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B.R.S.M — An organic chemistry blog

Radical Reactions in Organic Synthesis: From Natural Product Synthesis to Methodology Development - Lectures - SUSTC

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Something Deeply Wrong With Chemistry » Chemistry …

I agree that a PhD in organic synthesis is not necessarily preparing you for bench organic synthesis alone – if synthesis goes to China, the corresponding project leaders in the US still have to understand chemistry. So we need more OChem PhDs than actual bench chemists… Whether there’s too many is a different question, of course.
But a more important point to me is that a PhD thesis should be more than education. It should aim to solve an interesting scientific problem and advance the knowledge of the scientific community. Some natural products efforts might not necessarily fall into this category.

A short documentary-style film that introduces total synthesis to a general audience

Interestingly, despite the hugely varied interests and specializations of the groups involved, all five of the successful total syntheses reported to date have constructed the molecule’s prominent bicyclo[2.2.2]octane ring system using the venerable Diels–Alder reaction (often in conjunction with the similarly tried-and-true tactic of oxidative dearomatization to establish the diene). That said, the number of Diels–Alder variants employed is impressive, and you could almost imagine giving a short lecture course on the reaction using nothing but examples from synthetic studies on maoecrystal V. I’ve tried to illustrate the variety below.

Gilbert Stork, 1921-2017 | In the Pipeline

B.R.S.M. — A blog about total synthesis, organic synthesis and chemical history

Prof. Stork was one of the great organic synthetic chemists. He was born in Belgium and came to the US in 1939 when his family emigrated in the nick of time, and got his PhD at Wisconsin in 1945. He took a position at Harvard the next year, and moved to Columbia in 1953, where he stayed for the rest of his career (which is equal to the rest of his life – Stork became an emeritus professor, but as that above example shows, he never truly “retired”). (PDF) of his career in organic chemistry from the Baran group at Scripps, and even if you’re not in the field, you can imagine that in over fifty solid years of high-level work you can cover an awful lot of ground. He was one of the last links, perhaps the last, to the heroic age of organic synthesis. All those famous names from the mid-20th century? He knew them; he was one of them.

Stork did total synthesis of natural products, taking on very hard problems and solving them elegantly. I think it’s fair to say that R. B. Woodward’s achievements and reputation always cast some shade in his direction, but there are very few others in his league. Prof. Stork also made a number of contributions to mechanistic understanding of reactions, and added no small number of transformations of his own to the list. Enamines, silyl protecting groups, radical cyclizations, stereospecific synthesis in general – his fingerprints are all over these and more, all of them fundamental classes of compounds and operations in organic synthesis.

Some Very Peculiar NMR Spectra in Organic Letters

DIBAL is a bulky aluminum hydride reagent that is useful for reducing esters down to aldehydes

For the past five years at UW-Madison, I have conducted my PhD research with Professor Weiping Tang. We focus on natural product synthesis and method development. During my first three years, I started to think about my post-PhD options: industry versus academia? I had an idea of what academia was like but was not sure if it was the right path. To get a better idea of industrial world, I applied for a summer internship at Procter & Gamble and spent three months in Cincinnati. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the “real world” at a fortune 500 company. It was the first time I was exposed to the real business world. What surprised me was the amount of time spent on business meetings and discussions alongside the more applicable and basic research. It was an eye-opening opportunity. At the end of my internship, I decided that going to industry was the right choice for me because of the business assets, more applicable research, and higher sense of accomplishment. An additional aspect that shaped my decision to enter into industry over academia is how resources are managed. In industry, I felt I had what was needed to succeed in my synthesis. The lab was properly equipped with reagents, tools, and supplies and my time was generally valued. Conversely, there is a constant pressure to save money in academia. Sometimes this means that a PI must hire another postdoc to provide additional publications in pursuit of more grants and ultimately, the tenure of the PI. One glaring example is disposable test tubes. In graduate school we would clean our test tubes and reuse them. However, in industry test tubes are consumables. Furthermore, in academia, even if a reagent was not of high quality or consistency, the price was the deciding factor during purchasing.

I agree with a lot of the other comments.
I did a PHD in organic synthesis out of interest for doing research in the subject and believing that Masters/Bsc were becoming devalued. However, it’s turned out to be an employment dead end, due to the lack of jobs in that field and being overqualified for everything else.
Furthermore, based on my experiences a lot of phds handed out aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. If you start a PhD in this area than you’re almost guaranteed to be awarded it, regardless of whether your supervisor has helped you out by doing most of the hard work in terms of strategy and writing the thesis. On this basis effectively you are there as a lab slave to further the academic career of your supervisor, but of what benefit to you. Several wasted years of your life with no real earnings and a title that will make it harder for you to get a job in science than before you started out.

An example of what is currently wrong with chemistry culture, even though it is dated
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Of the 110 postdocs in the program, Pond says, 13 are chemists working in computer-aided drug design, synthetic organic chemistry, and analytical chemistry. The remainder of the postdocs in the program have degrees in biology, bioengineering, physics, and other areas.

Remembering organic chemistry legend Robert Burns …

Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of Whitesides or his opinions on most topics.
One major flaw in his thinking (this time) is that he assumes that the purpose of getting a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry is to do synthetic organic chemistry at the bench, post degree. To add to anonie’s point, above, the pharma industry (in particular) will continue to have a need for people trained in synthetic organic chemistry to oversee off-shore bench work.
Despite opinions of MBAs to the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that you cannot have project managers *successfully* oversee technical work performed in an external network for any length of time. (Unless the project managers are PhD chemists.) My $2.00 E-2.

C&EN wanted to introduce, or ..

“He was a master at using relatively simple reagents—an acid here, a base there, a little bit of heat there—not particularly exotic reagents, but once masterfully arrayed, voilà!” adds , a synthetic organic chemist at the University of Minnesota, who was a graduate student in Woodward’s laboratory from 1972 to 1976.

organic chemistry, synthesis, ..

Woodward’s work was less about inventing reactions, although he did do that on occasion. He didn’t, for example, design a reaction and then apply it over and over again to many natural products, a strategy that became common after Woodward’s death, says , a synthetic organic chemist at UC Berkeley. “Each target molecule instead represented a blank canvas and the unique peculiarities of the system helped dictate the overall strategy.”

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