Scott E. Denmark

 Scott Denmark

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
245 RAL, Box 18-5
600 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Reynold C. Fuson Professor of Chemistry
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Scott E. Denmark was born in Lynbrook, NY in 1953. He obtained a S. B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and a D.Sc. Tech. from the ETH-Zürich under the direction of Albert Eschenmoser in 1980. That same year he was appointed as assistant professor at the University of Illinois and since 1991 has been the Reynold C. Fuson Professor of Chemistry.

Professor Denmark’s research involves the invention of new synthetic reactions, mechanistic and stereochemical aspects of carbon-carbon bond forming reactions and the design and development of asymmetric catalysts using chemoinformatics.

Professor Denmark has won a number of honors including the Pedler and Robert Robinson Medals (RSC), the Aldrich Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods, the F. S. Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry (ACS) and the Prelog Medal.  He is currently the Editor in Chief and President of Organic Reactions.


Research Interests

  • synthetic organic chemistry; invention of new organic reactions (organoelement chemistry); elucidation of structure-reactivity-selectivity relationships (mechanistic studies); total synthesis of natural products (alkaloids, polypropionates, polyenes, C-aryl glycosides)

Research Description

The research in my group is primarily involved with the invention of new synthetic reactions, on the origin of stereocontrol in fundamental carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bond forming reactions, and in the application of these developments to the synthesis of complex molecular structures. A continuing theme of the work in these laboratories is the relationship between structure, reactivity and stereoselectivity in a variety of organo-element systems, particularly, silicon, phosphorus, tin, sulfur and lithium containing compounds. In recent years this interest has focused on palladium catalyzed cross-coupling reactions with organofunctional silicon compounds, asymmetric catalysis of carbonyl and olefin addition reactions and chiral Lewis base activation of Lewis acids. In addition my research program encompasses the development and application of tandem heterodiene cycloadditions for the synthesis of complex natural (alkaloids) and unnatural (fenestranes) nitrogen containing compounds. In recent years the tandem cycloaddition has been employed as a discovery engine for the investigation of structure/selectivity-reactivity relationships in asymmetric phase transfer catalysis with chiral quaternary ammonium ions. In recent years, my group has investigated theuse of chemoinformatics and machine learning to identify and optimize catalystsfor a variety of organic and organometallic reactions.

My group maintains a long-standing interest in catalytic enantioselective reactions with organozinc and other organometallic reagents.

Distinctions / Awards

  • National Academy of Sciences, Member, 2018
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member, 2017
  • Harry and Carol Mosher Award of the Santa Clara Section of the ACS, 2014
  • Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry (ACS), 2014
  • ISHC Senior Award in Heterocyclic Chemistry, 2011
  • Fellow, American Chemical Society, 2009 (inaugural year)
  • Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods (ACS), 2009
  • Robert Robinson Medal and Lectureship (Royal Society of Chemistry) 2008
  • Prelog Medal (ETH-Zürich, Switzerland), 2007