Graduate Student Exchange | Omar Villaneuva travels to UC-Irvine


The CCHF has a program that provides graduate students with the opportunity to perform exchanges with other institutions within the CCHF to take advantage of other equipment and expertize. This summer Omar Villaneuva traveled from the MacBeth Group at Emory University to the Borovik group at UC-Irvine.

In Omar's words: As part of the CCHF Graduate Student Exchange Program, I was fortunate enough to participate in a short-term exchange program at the University of California Irvine (UCI) in the laboratory of Dr. Andy Borovik. My research at Emory university in the MacBeth laboratory involves the development of novel catalysts that use redox-active ligand scaffolds to promote C–H functionalization at first-row metal ions.

In addition to synthesizing these novel catalysts, we are very interested in carrying out mechanistic studies to understand their fundamental behavior with external oxidants and substrates in order to develop next generation sustainable catalysts. With this goal in mind, the primary driving force for this visit to UCI was to use Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy in the Borovik lab as a tool to investigate highly reactive intermediates of the catalysts we have developed at Emory. EPR is a technique that can provide significant insights into the electronic structure of an intermediate formed in a catalytic cycle. Although EPR is an indispensable technique to our research, it is not available at Emory.

My visit to UCI was very encouraging and productive. I was fortunate enough to learn in great detail about this technique and communicate my own research to other CCHF members at UCI and even UCI graduate students and post docs. This visit led to further collaborations between the MacBeth lab and the Borovik lab and was perhaps one of the highlights of my graduate school career. This CCHF opportunity allowed me to grow as an individual and as a scientist. I highly encourage graduate students to pursue this type of opportunity for their own professional development.

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