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Room 205, Mechanical Engineering Building

Searching for selective catalytic reactions in complex molecular environments


Professor Scott Miller
Yale University

Hosted by: Professor Mike Hilinski

This lecture will describe recent developments in our efforts to develop low-molecular weight catalysts for asymmetric reactions.  Over time, our view of asymmetry has ebbed and flowed, with foci on enantioselectivity, site-selectivity and chemoselectivity.  In most of our current work, we are studying issues of enantioselectivity as a prelude to extrapolation of catalysis concepts to more complex stereochemical settings where multiple issues are presented in a singular substrate.  Moreover, we continuously examine an interplay between screening of catalyst libraries and more hypothesis-driven experiments that emerge from screening results.  Some of the mechanistic paradigms, and their associated ambiguities, will figure strongly in the lecture.


Scott J. Miller was born on December 11, 1966 in Buffalo, NY. He received his B.A. (1989), M.A. (1989) and Ph.D. (1994) from Harvard University, where he worked with David Evans as a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow.  Subsequently, he traveled to the California Institute of Technology where he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow with Robert Grubbs until 1996. For the following decade, he was a member of the faculty at Boston College, until joining the faculty at Yale University in 2006.  In 2008, he was appointed as the Irénée duPont Professor of Chemistry.

Professor Miller’s research program focuses on catalysis. His group employs strategies that include catalyst design, the development of techniques for catalyst screening, and the application of new catalysts to the preparation of biologically active agents.  Three current interests are (a) the selective functionalization of complex molecules, (b) the exploration of analogies between synthetic catalysts and enzymes and (c) the discovery of effective antibiotics despite increasing resistance.

Scott Miller’s awards and honors include: National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1999), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2000), Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2000), Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society (2004), Yoshimasa Hirata Memorial Gold Medal of Nagoya University (2009), National Institutes of Health MERIT Award (2011), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012), American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (2016), Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016), Max Tishler Prize, Harvard University (2017).

Professor Miller has served in number of capacities for public and private organizations.  For example, he recently completed a term on the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Advisory Council, convened by the Director of the National Institutes of Health.  He now serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Organic Chemistry.