Seminars & Events

Throughout the academic year, the department hosts several seminars whose presenters range from department graduate students to internationally renowned professors and scientists. The calendar below includes all of our department seminars and events. It is updated frequently with titles and abstracts — you can subscribe using Google Calendar by clicking the "+GoogleCalendar" button in the lower right. 


Friday Colloquium Series

Faculty members and graduate students invite professors from other institutions throughout the country and the world to speak at Brown on a Friday afternoon. Friday colloquiua topics span the various fields of chemistry represented by the department. Sometimes, a colloquium seminar is hosted jointly with another department or institute, such as IMNI, the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation. Friday afternoons, 4:00pm - 5:00pm, MacMillan Hall 115. Refreshments served at 3:45pm.

Organic Chemistry Seminars

Organic chemistry graduate students are required to give at least two seminars. The first is a literature seminar on a topic of recent interest, and the second is the candidate's thesis research. Invited guests frequently present their research at Organic Seminars as well. Tuesday afternoons, 12:00pm - 1:00pm.

Inorganic Chemistry Seminars

Inorganic chemistry graduate students are expected to present one seminar per year on their own research or on another topic of current interest in inorganic chemistry. Research associates, faculty and invited guests often present inorganic seminars as well. Thursday afternoons, 12:00pm - 1:00pm.

Physical Chemistry Tea Sessions

Physical chemistry graduate students are expected to present one seminar per year. Topics covered include the graduate students' topics of interest with regard to current research, as well as their own research. Thursday afternoons, 3:00pm - 4:00pm.


Upcoming Events

  • Exploiting Abasic Site Chemistry to Decipher Mitochondrial Genome Biology

    Abstract: Human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes 37 essential genes and plays a critical role in mitochondrial and cellular functions. Compared to nuclear DNA (nDNA), mtDNA is more susceptible to chemical modifications by endogenous and exogenous factors partly due to its proximity to the oxidative phosphorylation system and the lack of certain DNA repair pathways. The overarching goal of our research is to understand the chemical and molecular mechanisms by which mtDNA modifications are processed in the mitochondrial genome. In this seminar, I will focus on a prevalent type of DNA modification, i.e., abasic (AP) sites, formed by loss of nucleobases during natural depurination or depyrimidination processes and during DNA damage and repair. I will discuss the chemistry of AP sites and how we have leveraged their chemical reactivity to explore unknown mtDNA maintenance pathways in mitochondria. I will also discuss our recent efforts in developing high-throughput DNA sequencing methods using AP sites as a reactive intermediate.

    Chemistry Colloquium with Linlin Zhao • University Of California, Riverside • Exploiting Abasic Site Chemistry to Decipher Mitochondrial Genome Biology
  • Recognition at the Molecular Level

    The selective recognition of one molecule by another within a mixture is key to complex chemical function. Innumerable examples exist in Nature of selective molecular recognition; including the complementary strands of a DNA double helix, the binding of a substrate (and reaction transition state) by an enzyme active site, the exquisite matching of chemical features on the surfaces of proteins involved in protein-protein complexes that are part of the pathways for transmission of signals in living cells. Over the past fifty years a branch of science, known as supramolecular chemistry, has grown aimed at developing artificial and synthetic agents (receptors) capable of selective binding to a complementary chemical entity. By positioning charged, hydrogen bonding or hydrophobic groups within a synthetic molecular scaffold, non-covalent binding can be harnessed to achieve surprisingly high levels of selective recognition. Examples from the lecturer’s group as well as from others will be used to show how the field has evolved from targeting simple spherical alkali metal cations, to small molecules, to more complex anions, to protein secondary structure, to entire protein or DNA/RNA surfaces. From these studies new insights into the process of molecular recognition are gained and potentially useful sensors or catalysts are developed.

    2023 Appleton Lecture with Andrew D. Hamilton, President, NYU • Recognition at the Molecular Level
  • Synthetic Mimics of Protein Structure and Function

    In this lecture we will describe a program aimed at the design of synthetic agents that can recognize the exterior surface of proteins and block protein-protein interactions involved in different cellular pathways. The unique distribution of charged, hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups on the surface of proteins offers the potential that well-designed artificial scaffolds will bind strongly and selectively. Our principal strategy involves the synthesis of molecules that mimic the side chain distribution and recognition properties of non-contiguous, surface domains involved in the protein-protein contact. The strategy will be exemplified with two principal examples. The first involves the design of synthetic mimics of a-helical domains that mediate protein-protein interactions present in oncogenic processes, such as programmed cell death (apoptosis). In particular we have designed terphenyl-based mimics of the BH3 helix of Bak and shown by fluorescence polarization and NMR that they bind to BclxL with a Kd of 100nM and disrupt the Bak/BclxL complex. In the second case, we further extend this strategy with the use of a series of pyridylamide-based helix mimetics to target proteins involved amyloid diseases such as Islet Amyloid Polypeptide (IAPP), implicated in type II diabetes, and Amyloid Beta peptide (Abeta), present in Alzheimer’s disease.

    Chemistry Colloquium • Andrew D. Hamilton, President, NYU • Synthetic Mimics of Protein Structure and Function
  • Computational Modeling of Artificial Photosynthesis Components

    Abstract  The goal of our research at Artificial Photosynthesis Program at Brookhaven National Laboratory is to gain a fundamental understanding of processes involved in the chemical conversion of solar energy. Together with our collaborators, we perform coordinated experimental and theoretical studies to address the scientific challenges associated with efficient coupling of light absorption, photo­induced electron-transfer processes, and chemical transformations, together with managing proton movement and charge leveling in catalysts. Among oxidative chemical transformations, we devote significant attention to water oxidation because of its importance in both natural and artificial photosynthesis as the ideal source of electrons and protons. On the light driven reductive transformations thrust, we focus on electro- and photocatalytic reduction of CO2 and reversible H2 storage via CO2 hydrogenation and formic acid dehydrogenation reactions.

    In the first of part of my seminar, I will highlight how our detailed mechanistic studies of water oxidation by transition metal-based complexes enable the development of highly efficient catalysts by carefully controlling the factors that govern the critical O-O bond formation step. Second part of my talk will focus on our recent computational modeling studies on the correlation between thermodynamic and kinetic hydricities of transition metal hydrides.

    Chemistry Colloquium • Mehmed Z Ertem • Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • As a relatively recent graduate, Corey received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Brown University in 2015 where he conducted research in antibacterial drug discovery and resistance. While at Brown, Corey published 5 research articles and received the Potter prize for his dissertation. With a longstanding passion for getting science off the benchtop, Corey took an alternative path after graduation enrolling at The University of North Carolina and completing his MBA.
    Corey has built a career at the center of science and business, with an eye for simplifying communication and bringing disparate functions together. He began his career in private equity at Blackstone where he helped early-stage companies accelerate growth through various near- and mid-term strategies. Currently, Corey works in the pharmaceutical industry at Bristol Myers Squibb, where he leads commercialization efforts across multiple oncology development programs to help shape global clinical trial programs. Corey will speak to life at the intersection of science and business and what he has learned along the way.

    Distinguished Alumni Series: Chemistry Careers with Corey Compton • Bristol Myers Squibb
  • Electrons in the flatland: from Coulomb repulsion to the condensation of momentum

    2D van der Waals heterostructures represent a unique family of quantum materials. While most quantum materials, either in the form of bulk crystal or thin film, require highly sophisticated lab facilities to grow and synthesize, the most complex 2D van der Waals heterostructures are prepared using methods like Scotch tape exfoliation. Electrons in these materials are confined in a world with no thickness. This flatland not only enhances the influence of Coulomb repulsion, but it also introduces an exotic flavor of topology. The interplay of correlation and topology offers the ingredient for unlocking a fascinating landscape of quantum phenomena. In this work, I will discuss the intriguing phenomenon of momentum polarization in Bernal stacked bilayer graphene, which is defined as the Coulomb-driven process where electrons in graphene acquire a non-zero net momentum. I will present the experimental method we developed to probe the momentum polarized order, while also discussing the impact of momentum polarization on other quantum phases, such as superconductivity and ferromagnetism.

    Chemistry Colloquium • Leo Li • Brown University • Electrons in the flatland: from Coulomb repulsion to the condensation of momentum
  • New Methods for the Synthesis of Sustainable Polymers

    Abstract: Society depends on polymeric materials now more than at any other time in history. Although synthetic polymers are indispensable in a diverse array of applications, ranging from commodity packaging and structural materials to technologically complex biomedical and electronic devices, their synthesis and disposal pose important environmental challenges. The focus of our research is the development of sustainable routes to polymers that have reduced environmental impact using catalysis. This lecture will focus on our research to transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources for polymer synthesis, as well as the development of polymeric materials that exhibit lower post-use impact on the environment.

    Chemistry Colloquium • Jeffrey Coates • Cornell University • New Methods for the Synthesis of Sustainable Polymers