Benjamin McDonald: "Designing reactive and responsive organochemical systems"

Benjamin McDonald: "Designing reactive and responsive organochemical systems"

11 May 2021 | 12 - 1 EST | Virtual

MLK Scholar Virtual Luncheon


Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.
–Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


Endless permutations of structural and spatial arrangements of a few elements - predominantly carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen – make up the vastness of organochemical space.

This infinite space can be defined by size and structure, by origin, or by property and function, as catalytic, structural, signaling, or information storage entities. Along these bases, chemists continually seek to understand systems of organic molecules and the interactions therein to develop a greater knowledge base and, subsequently, propel technological advances that span medicine to material science. Nature’s organochemical systems have remained a steadfast confluence of inspiration, building blocks, and functional benchmarks.

From this perspective, MLK Scholar Benjamin McDonald will share how nature’s organochemical systems have inspired his work, in the development of new catalytic systems for small molecule synthesis, and in the design of polymers for chemical-warfare agent responsive surfaces. Finally, we will look forwards and consider the construction of nature’s structural materials as inspiration towards new organic materials.

We are committed to making this dialogue accessible for all MIT community members. Please reach out to with accessibility requests.