Department News

Professor Neidig Appointed Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry

September 27, 2021

neidig2021.jpgWe are pleased to announce that Michael Neidig has been appointed as the new Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry.  Marshall D. Gates, Jr. is known around the world as the first person to synthesize morphine in the laboratory. He was a scholar and teacher at the University of Rochester from 1949 -1981. Gates established the Department of Chemistry as a major center of chemistry research, created hundreds of compounds, and was awarded 13 patents in his quest for the perfect painkiller. A new University endowed Professorship was created in his honor and remembrance.

Robert K. Boeckman Jr., then Chair of the Chemistry Department, was named the first holder of the new Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Chair of Chemistry in 2003. Boeckman followed closely in the footsteps of Gates, and devoted his research career to developing new tools that pharmaceutical companies can use in the discovery and development of new drugs. Professor Boeckman retired in 2019, and Professor Michael Neidig was nominated to fill the Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry position.

“It is an honor to be selected as the second ever Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Chair in Chemistry. Marshall was hugely impactful figure in organic chemistry as was the first Gates chair holder, Bob Boeckman, who was also a fantastic colleague at Rochester for over a decade. I hope that my group’s contributions in iron catalysis for organic transformations as well as our many other research areas continue the proud tradition that both Marshall and Bob established at Rochester”
                        ~ Michael Neidig

Neidig joined the UR Chemistry Department in July of 2011, having completed his doctoral studies at Stanford University in 2007. He spent 2007-2009 working in industry for Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan before assuming a position as a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2009. He has published over 80 papers while at Rochester, has historically carried 3 major grants (NIH, NSF, DOE), and is a Sloan Fellow. He has been recognized with both DOE and NSF early investigator awards. His work in organometallic chemistry can be characterized as unique and insightful, in that he is bringing modern physical inorganic spectroscopic tools to bear on problems of interest to organic chemists. Of particular interest are iron-catalyzed reactions that have historically been poorly defined including cross-coupling and C-H activation/functionalization, where the work of the group has provided molecular level insight into reactions often viewed as “black boxes". In addition to his research, Neidig’s dedicated and innovative teaching efforts have been very successful on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“As someone with synthetic interests and expertise, and who intersects strongly with the organic chemistry sub-division, Mike is exactly the kind of high performing faculty member who deserves the honor of the Gates Chaired Professorship appointment.”
                  ~ Professor Todd Krauss, Chair of the Department of Chemistry


Marshall D. Gates, Jr., the first successful synthesizer of morphine.
("From the Archives: UR’s Gates gave morphine its structure", Campus Times. Photo Courtesy University Archives/Rare Books and Special Collections, River Campus Libraries)


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