Department of Chemistry
The research in the Harrop group focuses on aspects in the area of bioinorganic chemistry. These interests include the rational design and synthesis of structural and functional models of metalloenzyme active sites involved in small molecule activation, especially the superoxide detoxifying enzymes like superoxide reductase (SOR, a non-heme iron enzyme) and the nickel containing superoxide dismutase (Ni-SOD). The goal is to design and develop synthetic routes for ligand sets that structurally mimic the spatial disposition and donor strength (imidazole-N and cysteine-S) observed at the active site of these enzymes. We intend to perform and understand the reactivity of the model systems with superoxide and other ROS species in order to gain insight on the mechanism of superoxide detoxification. Additionally, the lab aims to systematically construct organic molecules with applications in environmental remediation and sensing of toxic heavy metal ions like arsenic (As3+) and lead (Pb2+). The aim of this project is to construct ligand frames utilizing metal specific donor groups that will form supramolecular coordination complexes with these particular toxic ions. Synthetic tweeking of the receptor molecules with fluorescent reporter groups will then allow us to detect the presence of these ions in an aqueous environment. Collectively, the proposed research fuses together many areas of chemistry providing multidisciplinary projects that should be of broad interest to students from diverse backgrounds.