Travis Marshall-Roth (’15) has been selected as the winner of the 2016 American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry Award for Undergraduate Research for students at research universities. Marshall-Roth and his research advisor Seth Brown, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, were recognized for their work elucidating the reaction mechanism for non-classical oxygen atom transfers and developing new catalyst designs with multiple redox-active ligands.
Travis began his work with Prof. Brown by investigating the reactivity of oxobis(catecholate)molybdenum(VI) complexes containing oxygen atom donors. Previous work in this area identified the net reaction, but Travis structurally characterized the key N-oxide adduct, studied its ligand exchange, and measured substituent effects to confirm the hypothesis that electrons in the reaction are supplied by the coordinated ligands and not by the metal center. Their article in Chemical Communications (Chem. Commun. 2012, 48, 7826-7828) was the first report that a nonclassical oxygen atom transfer reaction had been mechanistically substantiated.
After confirming the mechanism, Travis worked with Prof. Brown to develop more stable ligands for the reaction. A new tris(aminophenol) ligand was used with molybdenum to demonstrate increased stability, and work toward a new titanium catalyst with the ligand was started. The strong relationship of mutual respect and trust between Travis and Prof. Brown undoubtedly contributed to the great success of this research project, and it is fitting that these remarkable accomplishments in undergraduate research were selected for this recognition.
Marshall-Roth is a May 2015 graduate of the department. While at Notre Dame, he received the 2015 Outstanding Biochemistry Research Award, a Vincent P. Slatt Fellowship, a College of Science Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Emil T. Hofman Scholarship. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prof. Brown is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, Chair of the US National Chemistry Olympiad Exams Task Force, a recipient of the Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, winner of the Shilts/Leonard Award for Outstanding Teaching in the College of Science, recipient of the University of Notre Dame Presidential Award, and National Science Foundation CAREER Awardee.