DePaul Research Highlighted in ACS Special Issue

The ACS journal Organometallics recently published a Special Virtual Issue focusing on Undergraduate Research in Organometallics. Two DePaul Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty members, Dr. Paul Vadola and Dr. Kyle Grice, had their papers included in this Special Virtual Issue!

According to the website of the special issue,

“This Virtual Issue features 24 organometallic chemistry papers from research groups at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) published in four core journals from 2014-2018: Organometallics, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Letters, and The Journal of Organic Chemistry. The PUI researchers featured here represent a broad spectrum of institutions across the U.S. and Canada, career levels of faculty, and areas of interest. But they all share the common purpose of the pursuit of high-quality research with undergraduates”.

“It’s clear from these highlighted reports that PUI researchers strive to maintain a presence in emerging frontier areas of organometallic research”.

“As the guest editors noted: “The research featured in this Virtual Issue is a testament to the high-level work that can be performed with undergraduates. …Research for undergraduates is often a transformative experience, providing a natural incubator for the next generation of organometallic chemists””.

Congratulations to Dr. Vadola and Dr. Grice and their students for having their work highlighted! Way to go DePaul Chemistry and Biochemistry undergraduate researchers! You can learn more about the research being performed by Drs. Grice and Vadola, as well as our other faculty, by visiting faculty bio pages.

Here are the citations to the papers that were highlighted:

Electrocatalytic Reduction of CO2 by Group 6 M(CO)6 Species without “Non-Innocent” Ligands
Kyle A. Grice* and Cesar Saucedo
Inorg. Chem., 2016, 55 (12), pp 6240–6246
DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b00875

Gold-Catalyzed Hydroarylation of N-Aryl Alkynamides for the Synthesis of 2-Quinolinones
Taylor Vacala, Lauren P. Bejcek, Chloé G. Williams, Alexandra C. Williamson, and Paul A. Vadola*
J. Org. Chem., 2017, 82 (5), pp 2558–2569
DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.6b02984


Publications from Faculty and Students

Research from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has produced several articles in several major journals in recent months. Undergraduate and graduate student coauthors were prominently involved in many of the studies.


In December of 2017, Prof. Kyle Grice and five DePaul student coauthors published a paper in New Journal of Chemistry studying the behavior of drug molecules, in collaboration with colleagues at Rosalind Franklin University and North Carolina State University.The research team used NMR, reactivity testing, absorbance spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, X-Ray crystallography, and computational methods to study the compounds. They determined that a C-S bond was very weak because of the favorable formation of a carbocation upon cleavage. This result may explain some of the biological activities of these molecules as well.

Prof. Paul Vadola and five DePaul students published an article in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in January reporting a catalytic redox-neutral method for the synthesis of spirolactams, proceeding through the dearomative spirocyclization of N-aryl alkynamides. They were able to achieve selective spirocylcization with 35-87% yields and broad substrate scope.

Profs. Caitlin Karver and Carey Southern published a collaborative paper in February 2018 in the journal Analytical Biochemistry , with four DePaul student coauthors. They were able to develop a new assay for monitoring inflammatory caspase activity, relying on energy transfer between a tryptophan coumarin amino acid side chains. This methodology will allow for C-terminal amino acids to be included in peptide substrates. They were able to find activity differences with minor sequence modifications on the C-terminus with one enzyme, and will be able to develop a substrate specificity/selectivity pattern for all of the inflammatory caspases in the future.

Profs. Kyle Grice  and Graham Griffin published a collaborative paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A in March of 2018, along with four DePaul student coauthors. Their study reveals the solution phase structure, electronic structure, and electronic dynamics of a metal-ligand complex that has applications in OLEDs and other organic electronic technologies.

Profs. Wendy Wolbach and Timothy French were co-authors on two papers recently published on a significant bio-mass burning episode 12,800 years ago (a cosmic impact caused a really really big fire!). Both papers were published in the Journal of Geology (second paper) and the articles got some press coverage as well!

Congratulations to all of the authors, we are very proud of their hard work and great achievements!

Undergrads, Present your Research at CAURS!



Every spring, the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS) is held at a location in Chicago and undergraduates from DePaul, IIT, U of Chicago, Northwestern, Loyola, and Roosevelt Universities present posters and talks.

Here’s the website for CAURS.

This year, we are delighted that CAURS will be held at DePaul in our student center. The event is all day April 15th, 2018. Put it on your calendar!

It’s free and everyone is welcome, but registration is required for all attendees. Undergraduates, if you would like to present, talk to your research advisor and then submit your information by March 31. If you would like to go and see the posters and talks but do not want to present, register as an observer. Faculty and graduate students can register to be judges if they would like to get involved beyond just being an observer.

Students get valuable experience presenting their work, networking with peers, and seeing what kinds of research is being done by undergraduates around the Chicagoland area. In addition, several awards are given out for the best posters and talks.

We hope to see you all there!


Seminar Friday – Prof. James Devery from Loyola

This Friday, the seminar from 1-2 pm in McGowan South 103 will be a research presentation from Prof. James Devery from Loyola University. The seminar will be a very interesting report about Dr. Devery’s studies of catalytic synthesis relevant to complex organic molecules. All are welcome to come see it!


Collaborations within the Department

CollaborationIn the third and final post in our series on Connections and Collaborations, we are going to focus in on collaborations within the Chemistry department. Like many fields, chemistry is increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary. This is why it is important to learn about a variety of fields in chemistry and see the connections between them. Often, these collaborations spawn new ideas and approaches that would not have been discovered by one researcher alone.

DePaul Chemistry faculty continue to pursue research projects leveraging collaboration between multiple research groups, such as the examples highlighted below:

  • Dr. Ruben Parra and Dr. Lihua Jin are working on a study of the Cu2+ and Zn2+ binding affinities of selected chelate ligands.


  • Dr. Grice and Dr. Griffin are currently preparing a manuscript on the solution phase photochemistry of zinc bis-8-hydroxyquinolate, a material with potential applications in sensing, organic electronic technologies, and biological labelling.


  • Dr. French is currently pursuing several collaborative projects across many departments. Working with Dr. Sarah Read from Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, he developed a course in creating and presenting scientific posters. He is working with Dr. Murat Kahveci, also from DePaul Chemistry, on creating learning objects for physical chemistry, with results to presented at the DePaul Teaching and Learning Conference on May 5. He is also working on developing course materials for introductory calculus that are based on physics or chemistry applications, with Dr. David Sher of DePaul’s Mathematical Sciences department. Dr. French is also working with Dr. Sandy Virtue from the Psychology department on a collaborative project.


  • Dr. Karver and Dr. French are working together on a project to assess student understanding of pKa and identify sources of alternative conceptions related specifically to the pKa concept, and more broadly to acid/base chemistry.

Connections to the Chicago Area

ChicagoDePaul (1)

In our last post, we talked about research collaborations between DePaul Faculty and other researchers around the US and the World. In this post, we wanted to focus in to the city of Chicago and local areas. Part of DePaul’s mision is to engage Chicago and use the resources of this great city in our teaching and research, and the Chemistry Department is no exception!

We  have a strong connection to our local community here in the city of Chicago. Below are some highlights of recent and current programs.

  • Dr. Kyle Grice does outreach at DePaul Prep, a private Catholic high school in the area. He is also ACS Science coach, working with a local high school chemistry teacher. Through this program, the high school program received funding for supplies and equipment, and Dr. Grice also provides guidance and feedback on lab experiments.



  • Dr. Timothy French has launched a “Discover Chicago” course (incoming first year students take Discover or Explore Chicago courses in ther first quarter) entitled “Chicago: Food, Science, and Society”. The course will run as part of the Pathways Honors program in the coming fall quarter. Dr. French also works with the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, a CPS high school in the North Park neighborhood. He works with them on judging science fairs and preparing their science Olympiad team.


  • Several faculty members collaborate with researchers at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS). These projects also involve DePaul student researchers working on the projects.


  • DePaul chemistry students go to the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS) every year to present their research. If you are a student, consider going next year!

Research Connections Across the Globe

Research Connections

We wanted to highlight how the faculty in the Department of Chemistry have collaborations in research and teaching that span many different levels. These connections include those within the department as well as connections to other parts of the university, to Chicago, to the US, and even to the world. Let’s start with research collaboration on the national and global level and work our way back down to the local levels.

DePaul chemistry has a broad impact that extends well beyond our Lincoln Park campus! Below are just a few of the highlights of national and international research collaborations that DePaul chemistry faculty have been involved in.

  • Dr. Kyle Grice has several active collaborative research projects. Working with Dr. Alfredo Angeles-Boza from UConn, and collaborators from other institutions such as Brookhaven National Laboratory, he recently published a paper in the journal Inorganic Chemistry studying potential CO2 reduction catalysts by IR-SEC (Infrared-Spectroelectrochemistry) and bulk electrolysis ( He is also working with Prof. John Keith from the University of Pittsburgh on developing catalysts for CO2 reduction (


  • Dr. Grice is also co-developing a research-based study abroad program to Spain with Dr. Jason Bystriansky of the DePaul Biology Department. Details of the program will be discussed in a future Catalyst post.


  • Dr. Caitlin Karver recently published the synthesis and optimization of triaminopyrimidine compounds as inhibitors of caspases involved in inflammation ( Several of these compounds have been shipped to collaborators at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. There they will be tested for the activity in blood samples from patients with inflammatory conditions like Lupus.


  • Dr. Wendy Wolbach is a geochemist interested in studying environmental changes associated with meteorite impacts and mass extinctions. She searches for forms of elemental carbon in sedimentary rocks dating to the time of known impacts and extinctions by chemically isolating and quantifying elemental carbon in various forms: soot and charcoal (from fires triggered by an impact) or nanodiamonds formed in target rock from the pressure of impact. Sedimentary rocks can come from within or near a known crater or, if the impact was large enough to wreak global havoc, from anywhere that sediments accumulated at the time. In pursuing this research, Dr. Wolbach collaborates with teams of field geologists spread across the globe, including the United Kingdom, The People’s Republic of China, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Russia, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and Chile!