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University of Iowa News Release


March 30, 2011

UI researcher wins prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award

A prestigious award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will help a University of Iowa researcher to study novel metal compounds that may lead to cleaner and more energy-efficient synthesis in chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Jan-Uwe Rohde, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), has been selected by the NSF to receive a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, effective April 1. As an award recipient, Rohde will receive about $550,000 over the next five years.

The CAREER award is the most prestigious NSF honor for junior faculty and recognizes research and teaching excellence, as well as scholars who are likely to become future academic leaders. The awards, presented to engineers and scientists across the country, are designed to help universities attract and retain outstanding young faculty members.

Rohde received his CAREER Award for the project titled "New Late-transition Metal Platforms for the Activation of Inert Molecules."

He plans to develop and investigate compounds of transition metals that exhibit novel chemical reactivity. Transition metals, like cobalt and nickel, play important roles, for example, as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions in industrial processes or as biocatalysts in nature where they facilitate biochemical processes mediated by enzymes.

His research group has discovered and isolated new types of transition metal compounds that contain a metal in an unusually high oxidation state or incorporate a unique redox-active supporting framework. He plans to examine these compounds by spectroscopic and structural methods to obtain insights into their electronic structure. Investigations into the reactivity of the compounds will be directed toward the identification of selective mechanisms for the activation of abundant but inert molecules. Such fundamental studies may contribute to the development of better catalysts and more sustainable synthetic processes that use energy and raw materials more efficiently.

His current primary research interests involve the synthesis and chemistry of transition metal complexes, investigation of molecular and electronic structure, and inorganic and bioinorganic reaction mechanisms.

Prior to joining the UI faculty in 2005, he was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Minnesota and, from 2000 to 2002, a DFG Postdoctoral Fellow. He earned his doctorate from the University of Kiel, Germany, in 1999.

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