Robert Paton Professor

Office: Chemistry Research 313

Phone: (970) 791-7746


Curriculum Vitae:

Google Scholar:


  • PhD, University of Cambridge


The Paton group uses computational and data-driven approaches to make synthetic chemistry more predictable. We develop tools to predict molecular properties, design new functional molecules and optimize synthetic routes. Our approach combines quantum mechanical calculations, physical organic chemistry and machine learning.


Computer-Aided Catalyst Design

The discovery of new catalysts drives chemistry forwards, yet this is still dependent on trial-and-error experimentation. Screening large number of molecules, additives and solvent systems is innefficient, costly and wasteful. We explore computational approaches to understand and explore structure, mechanism and selectivity in catalytic transformations. Increasingly, this is carried out predictively, rather than retrospectively, in the design and optimization of new chiral catalysts to achieve high levels of stereocontrol. Collaborations with leading research groups in catalysis and synthetic organic chemistry have been established to pursue these goals.

Data-driven Chemistry

Like most scientists, chemists are drowning in data from laboratory experiments and from calculations. We are developing tools to automate the analysis of quantum-chemistry. Another area in need of automation is in the development of quantitative structure-property relationships, particularly where flexible molecules are concerned.