July 2, 2007
Fun Day at TCD honours visiting professor

An informal afternoon of short lectures giving a flavour of CSCB research was held on June 22 in TCD in honour of Professor Eric Anslyn, who visited TCD and CSCB from the University of Texas at Austin. During his visit, CSCB postgraduates had the opportunity to hear Professor Anslyn deliver a series of six lectures on various topics in physical organic chemistry.

Professor Eric Anslyn is currently the Norman Hackman Professor of Chemistry and
University Distinguished Teaching Professor at University of Texas at Austin. He was the recipient of the 2006 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award for his pioneering research in the fields of pattern recognition and supramolecular chemistry.

Professors Eric Anslyn and Thorri Gunnlaugsson

Professor Eric Anslyn with Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson, TCD

The programme of 15-minute lectures was organised by CSCB researcher Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson, TCD School of Chemistry. Professor Gunnlaugsson opened the informal meeting by expressing his delight at Professor Anslyn's visit and described the half-day meeting as "an excellent opportunity to showcase the dynamic and multidisciplinary research happening in Ireland and particularly within the CSCB".

Professor Mathias O. Senge, TCD School of Chemistry, started the programme with a presentation called "Making porphyrins work" describing synthesis of the first porphyrins to demonstrate selective absorption of high intensity light. These molecules have enormous potential for new and worthwhile applications, for example as eye protection in the workplace and as optical switches.

Professor Declan Gilheany, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology told a story of the taming of a primary phosphine, taking inspiration from Johnny Cash with his title "No Rings of Fire". Dr Stephen Connon, TCD School of Chemistry, gave an engaging presentation "DMAP derivatives: the molecules that keep on givin'" during which he illustrated a new and very important technique in organocatalysis: the use of recyclable magnetic nanoparticles.

Dr Susan Quinn and Professor Declan Gilheany
Dr Susan Quinn, TCD and Professor Declan Gilheany, UCD

Medicinal chemistry was up next on the programme when Dr Isabel Rozas, TCD School of Chemistry, outlined preliminary results and future plans for the design of guanidinium and imadazolinium derivatives to fit into DNA minor grooves, inducing apoptosis of cancer cells. Professor John Kelly, TCD School of Chemistry, presented results of his work at the Rutherford Laboratory, UK, on increased understanding of the photophysics and photochemistry of DNA using picosecond infrared spectroscopy.

After a short coffee break, Professor Rory More O'Ferrall, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, discussed the "Effects of Neighbouring Fe(CO)3 and Agostic Hydrogens on Carbocation Stability". Dr Mike Lyons, TCD School of Chemistry, introduced some electrochemistry into the programme, describing techniques for probing and characterizing self-assembled monolayers.

Dr Hasim Ibrahim, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, outlined potential new synthetic methodology for developing organocatalysts based on chiral iodoarenes. At the end of her presentation on "N-Heterosuperbenzenes and the Extended Family of Heteropolyaromatic Hydrocarbons", Professor Sylvia Draper, TCD School of Chemistry, broke into song and treated the audience to "A Chemist's Anthem"!

Professor Sylvia Draper, Frances Murphy and Buddhie Lankage
Professor Sylvia Draper, TCD, with members of her research team
Frances Murphy and Buddhie Lankage

Professor Pat Guiry, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, presented the "Synthesis and Biological Application of Lipoxin Analogues". Preliminary in vivo and in vitro biological testing has shown promise for these molecules as anti-inflammatories. Dr Donal O'Shea, also UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, gave the final talk of the day, showcasing new results on the "Development and Application of a Direct Vinyl Lithiation of cis-Stilbenes".

Professor Gunnlaugsson closed the meeting at the end of a long but entertaining afternoon, looking forward to next year's "Fun Day".


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