Wesley H. Bernskoetter Manning Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Prof. Bernskoetter received the B.Sc. in Chemisty from Benedictine College, Atchison, KS in 2002 and the Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University in 2006. He came to Brown in 2009 after two years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he worked with Prof. Maurice Brookhart. Prof. Bernskoetter's previous research has focused on dinitrogen functionalization and carbon-hydrogen bond activation. His current interest are in the use organometallic chemistry to address challenges relevant to sustainable chemical synthesis.

Brown Affiliations

scholarly work

Leonard, N. G.; Parker, G. V.; Williard, P. G.; Bernkoetter, W. H.Coordination Chemistry of Iridium Phosphine-Sulfonate Complexes. (Invited contribution to Dwight Sweigart Memorial Issue) J. Inorg. Organomet. Poly. Mat. 2014, 24, 157-163.

Koehne, I.; Schmeier, T. J.; Bielinski, E. A.; Pan, C. J.; Bernskoetter, W.H.; Takase, M. K.; Wurtele, C.; Hazari, N.; Schneider, S. Synthesis and Structure of Six Coordinate Iron Borohydride Complexes Supported by PNP Ligands. Inorg. Chem. 2014 ASAP.

Dong, J.; Williard, P. G.; Hazari, N.; Bernskoetter, W. H. The Effect of Sodium Cation on Metallacycle β-Hydride Elimination in CO2-Ethylene Coupling to Acrylates. Chem. Eur. J. 2014, Early View DOI: 10.1002/chem.201304196.

Xu, H.; Williard, P.G.; Bernskoetter, W.H. Intermolecular Methyl Group Exchange and Reversible P-Me Bond Cleavage at Cobalt(III) Dimethyl Halide Species. Organometallics, 2013, 32, 798-806.

Dong, J.; Schmeier, T. J.; Williard, P. G.; Hazari, N.; Bernskoetter, W. H. Lewis Acid Induced β-Elimination from a Nickelalactone: Efforts toward Acrylate Production from CO2 and Ethylene. Organometallics, 2013, 32, 2152-2159.

Bernskoetter, W. H.; Hazari, N. Computational Investigation of the Insertion of Carbon Dioxide into Four and Five Coordinate Iridium Hydrides. (Invited contribution to special issue: Small Molecule Activation by Reactive Metal Complexes) Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2013, 4032-4041.

Zhang, Y.; Hanna, B. S.; Dineen, A.; Williard, P. G.; Bernskoetter, W. H. Functionalization of Carbon Dioxide with Ethylene at Molybdenum Hydride Complexes. Organometallics, 2013, 32, 3969-3979.

Xu, H.; Williard, P.G.; Bernskoetter, W.H. C-CN Bond Activation of Acetonitrile using Cobalt(I) Organometallics, 2012, 31, 1588-1590

Wolfe, J.M.; Bernskoetter, W.H. Reductive Functionalization of Carbon Dioxide to Methyl Acrylate at Zerovalent Tungsten. Dalton Trans. 2012, 41, 10763-10768.

Bernskoetter, W.H.; Tyler, B.T. Kinetics and Mechanism of Molybdenum Mediated Acrylate Formation from Carbon Dioxide and Ethylene. Organometallics, 2011, 30, 520-527.

Leonard, N.G.; Williard, P.G.; Bernskoetter, W.H. Synthesis and Coordination Chemistry of Organoiridium Complexes Supported by an Anionic Tridentate Ligand. Dalton Trans., 2011, 40, 4300-4306.

Xu, H. Bernskoetter, W.H. Mechanistic Considerations for C-C Bond Reductive Coupling at a Cobalt(III) Center J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 14956-14959.

research overview

Research in the Bernskoetter lab focuses on the use of inorganic and organometallic complexes to address challenges relevant to our planet's growing energy concerns. Our initiatives employ techniques from synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry to study highly reactive molecules capable of mediating difficult chemical transformations.

research statement

(1) Carbon Dioxide Functionalization. As world-wide petrochemical reserves increase in scarcity, chemists must endeavor to find renewable and economical alternatives to fossil fuel carbon sources. Carbon dioxide, a primary by-product of fossil fuel combustion, offers huge potential as a renewable carbon feedstock, yet has been under-utilized industrially due to its high thermodynamic stability. Our laboratory seeks to develop organometallic catalysts which convert CO2 to commercially significant chemicals.

(2) Cobalt Mediated Transformations of Carbon-Carbon Bonds. Transition metal catalyzed reactions which transform carbon-carbon bonds via reductive elimination or oxidative addition are among the most widely applied synthetic techniques in homogenous catalysis. While platinum group metals have been at the forefront of many of these synthetic methods, the scarcity of precious metals may ultimately limit the utilization of their exquisite C-C bond formation and scission chemistry to smaller scale production of high value materials. Developing inexpensive cobalt alternatives will enhance the use of base-metals in bulk scale conversions of petroleum derived chemicals. Our group studies the fundamental mechanisms and influencing factors which govern these transformations and attempt to use that information to design catalyst targets

funded research

Brown University, Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award, Hydrocarbon Transformation by Transition Metals, Principal Investigator $15,000.

Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Chemical Fixation of CO2 to Acrylates Using Low Valent Molybdenum Sources, Principal Investigator $617,155.

Department of Defense, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Acrylate Formation from CO2 and Ethylene by Tandem Molybdenum and Palladium Catalysis, Principal Investigator $360,000.

American Chemical Society, Petroleum Research Fund, Cobalt Mediated C-C Bond Transformations toward Small Molecule Synthesis, Principal Investigator $100,000.

National Science Foundation, Centers for Chemical Innovation, CO2 as a Sustainable Feedstock for Chemical Commodities. Co-Principal Investigator. Phase I $1,750,000.

Chevron-Phillips Chemical Co. Methods for Acrylate Production from CO2.$153,499.

National Science Foundation. Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER). Developing Cobalt Catalysts for C-C Bond Transformations from Mechanism to Application. Principal Investigator. $650,000.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship. Principal Investigator. $50,000.