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UD prof helps discover new chemical method important to drug design, agrichemicals

lished in Science during the past year. The work on which the first article is based will result in Watson's first patent, co-authored with colleagues at MIT.

Today, in his laboratory at UD, Watson works on developing homogeneous transition metal-based catalysts for use in organic chemistry. He hopes the processes that he is discovering will find use in pharmaceutical, agrichemical, and alternative energy research.

His aim is to help build the chemist's toolkit, providing tools -- in the form of chemical reactions -- that other chemists can use to make new molecules.

"In my lab we do basic science that has the potential for real-world applications," Watson says. "We're working with the nuts and bolts, getting to develop stuff that other scientists can use. It's exhilarating to do research that will impact the way chemists build molecules.

"Making molecules and new catalysts is exciting," he adds. "To be able to sketch out a new compound and then make a new substance is a unique experience. It's pretty thrilling to be able to create new substances that other people have never seen before."

Watson has a growing laboratory group, with three graduate students, an undergraduate student, and a laboratory assistant.

"They are an incredible group of hard-working and highly talented students, and their science will have an impact," he says.

He knows that the experience in his lab has the potential to transform their lives just as his lab experiences did.

As an undergraduate, Watson explains, his interests were torn -- would he pursue physics, chemistry, or chemical engineering? Then as a sophomore in college he got involved in laboratory research in organic chemistry. The opportunity to work on something someone hadn't worked on before hooked him.

"I really like having undergraduate and early graduate students in the lab with me now," Watson notes. "Being able to work with young scientists who a

Contact: Tracey Bryant
University of Delaware

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