This summer, professor Daniel Weix and members of his research group joined the chemistry department, bringing with him a reputation for finding solutions that others might miss.
"Dan has established himself as a pioneer in the field of homogeneous catalysis, especially in the development of reductive or cross-electrophile coupling reactions,” Professor Shannon Stahl says. “There are many possible applications of this chemistry, for example, in the preparation of pharmaceuticals or agrochemicals. He has accomplished things that others in the field may have considered previously, but thought 'There's no way it will work.’ Well, the chemistry he's developed not only works, but also is practical. His work is now the basis for research that is being pursued by many other groups, and it is already being applied in industry."
Formerly an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Rochester, Weix earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
What’s the focus of your research?
We focus on the development of new reactions and new mechanisms with a particular emphasis on unusual chemistry with practical applications. We have been particularly involved in the development of cross-electrophile coupling, nickel catalysis, cross-coupling of organic radicals and cooperative multimetallic catalysis. Recently, we started a new project … exploring the use of nanomaterials for photoredox catalysis.
What can students expect from you in class or in the lab?
I love the unusual — the examples that, at first, look like exceptions, but upon later review can be explained. I also have a love for demonstrations and large-scale synthesis.
When did you know you wanted to become a scientist?
As a young child, I never considered it as a career — I didn’t know anyone who worked in research and had no concept of what a scientist really was. The change came in high school. I always enjoyed the sciences, but AP chemistry in high school came as a revelation. I was riveted by [my teacher’s] lectures and creative demonstrations. Because I also enjoyed biology, I entered college thinking about biochemistry or biology, but, again, amazing instructors changed my path. I could not believe how amazing organic chemistry was! That very year I started working in Nick’s [labs], and never looked back.
What most excites you about coming to UW-Madison?
I am most excited to join such a talented group of people working in the area of catalysis. A close second is going to my first Badger football game!
Story courtesy of the Department of Chemistry.