BiographyDr. L. was born in Birmingham, England which was the center of the Industrial Revolution. He was an undergraduate at the nearby University of Nottingham where he obtained a first-class honors degree in Chemistry. It was during this time he first became interested in alternative methods for making molecules. He did his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge Chemistry Department under the supervision of Professor Lord Lewis of Newnham and Dr. (now Professor) Paul Raithby. His work was focused around the use of photochemistry as a tool for the preparation of new organometallic complexes. He stayed at Cambridge as a University Research Fellow at Girton College. During this time he started working in the area of polymer-supported catalysis. In 1999 he moved to King's College London to take up a lectureship and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. While there he initiated his program of research using microwave heating in synthetic chemistry. In 2003 he was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry's Harrison Medal. He moved over the Atlantic in 2004 to his current position at the University of Connecticut.Dr L. obtained tenure in 2010, becoming an Associate Professor, and that same year he was awarded the University of Connecticut Excellence in Teaching award for the Physical Sciences. In 2011, he was awarded a Faculty Development Abroad grant that allowed him to travel to a number of centers of excellence in green chemistry around the world, as well as clock up the air-miles (not so green) Dr L. is the Interim Director of theChemical Innovations Institute, established by the Connecticut legislature in June 2010. The Institute’s mission is to (1) foster green job growth and safer workplaces through encouraging clean technology innovation and use of green chemistry and (2) provide assistance to those that want to use alternatives to chemicals that are harmful to public health and the environment. Wearing his "communicating science to the general public" hat, Dr L has contributed a number of "Academic Minutes" on a local National Public Radio station, talking about topics as diverse as green chemistry, chirality, biofuels, why the sky is blue, and the chemistry behind crusty bread. When not doing chemistry, Dr. L. enjoys cooking (perhaps that's why he likes microwaves), wine, Starbucks coffee, travelling, driving around in his yellow VW Beetle, modern civil aviation, and receiving mention in Chemical & Engineering News.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Current research interests are directed around developing and using sustainable, greener approaches to chemistry. Examples include using water in place of toxic, flammable organic solvents and developing new processes that allow for the quantity of catalysts and additives to be drastically reduced. We have interest in using microwave heating as a tool not only for synthetic chemistry but also for mechanistic studies. We have developed routes not only for small scale synthesis but also for scale‐up to the kilo level using prototype microwave apparatus. By interfacing a microwave unit with in‐situ Raman (and more recently IR) spectroscopy we have been able to study reactions from both a qualitative and quantitative standpoint. They have also become interested in the application of flow chemistry using conventional heating as an allied technology to their microwave apparatus as well as methods for the incorporation of fluorine into organic molecules. As part of my teaching portfolio, I have been an advocate for introduction of the concepts of green chemistry into
the undergraduate curriculum, both in lecture‐based classes and also applying them in a laboratory setting. In the case of the latter, I have co‐authored an undergraduate lab manual with a faculty member at Merrimack College in MA. I have an interest in outreach to the general public. Among other things, I have contributed eight audio segments to a series of “Academic Minutes” broadcast on WAMC Radio, a National Public Radio station. These contributions were all focused around making chemistry concepts understandable to the general public.