Andrew McNally

Photo of Andrew McNallyAssistant Professor
Phone: 970-491-6782
Education: Ph. D. The University of Cambridge
Email: amcnally@mail.colostate.edu

Catalytic processes are an essential part of modern society impacting areas such as energy, chemical production pharmaceuticals and the food industry. Our broad aim is to develop new catalytic reactions that enable us to access molecules with desirable properties whether they be key chemical building blocks or substances vital for human health. The unique ability of synthetic chemists to control and direct the reactivity of molecules combined with the influence of new technology is integral towards this goal.

 

Sustainable Catalysis.

Generating valuable chemical commodities from renewable and abundant resources (RARs) is a preeminent global challenge. RARs can be defined as bulk chemical feedstocks that can be replenished through natural processes or are available in large quantities from non-fossil fuel sources; these include biomass, greenhouse gases and industrial wastes. The constituent molecules present in RARs (e.g. carbohydrates, lignin monomers, amino acids, CO2 etc.) represent an underexploited molecular resource to obtain valuable chemical products. We therefore aim to develop new catalytic methods to transform these ubiquitous molecules into useful chemicals and provide access to low-cost fuels, fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and polymeric materials.

 

Asymmetric Catalysis.

The availability of enantiopure molecules is a vital aspect of synthesizing pharmaceutical and other biologically active compounds. Most synthetic strategies rely on the formation of an enatiopure building block, such as a carbonyl or alkene derivative, that is then advanced into the target compound. We are interested in developing catalytic asymmetric process on non-typical precursors, such as aromatic heterocyles and amines, which can enable rapid and direct construction of complex molecules synonymous with useful biological properties.

 

New Reaction Development and High-Throughput Techniques.

A goal in our laboratory is to develop reactions that transform simple and abundant feedstock compounds into complex molecules through catalyst-controlled reactive intermediates. High-throughput techniques, where vast collections of reactions can be executed and evaluated simultaneously, can rapidly accelerate discovery and enable ‘leaps’ beyond the current knowledge in the field. We will use a combination of traditional and high-throughput techniques when developing new reactions and also to explore problems outside of the remit of typical laboratory techniques.