At the start of my independent research career 46 years ago, I chose to explore the chemistry of a family of nonheme iron oxygenases, which had just been discovered a few years before I got started at Cornell. In this family is the only enzyme known to hydroxylate the simplest hydrocarbon, methane, which is found in methanotrophic bacteria. I will share our efforts to make and characterize synthetic analogs of intermediate Q, the dioxodiiron(IV) species capable of cleaving the 105-kcal/mol C–H bond of methane. This effort went in many directions and led us to discover and characterize a family of high-valent Fe=O complexes, some of which I will describe in greater detail.
About the Speaker:
Larry Que was born in Manila and got his BS Chem degree from Ateneo de Manila University, He then left home to attend the University of Minnesota to obtain his PhD. Although his original plan had been to become a physical organic chemist, he chose instead to work with Lou Pignolet and focus on physical inorganic chemistry. He then did postdoctoral stints in the labs of Dick Holm at MIT and Eckard Muenck back at the U of MN where he was introduced to the just emerging field of bioinorganic chemistry. The rest is history. He started his academic career at Cornell University and then returned to the University of Minnesota as a tenured faculty member. 40 years later, he still remains at his beloved alma mater and continues to enjoy tackling bioinorganic chemistry challenges. He has trained 55 PhDs and 80 postdoctorals.