University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Ian Tonks joins Department of Chemistry faculty

Ian A. Tonks, Ph.D., is joining the Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor. He will begin this summer.

Since 2012, Tonks has been a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with Professor Clark Landis. In 2011, he earned his doctorate in organometallic chemistry at the California Institute of Technology under the tutelage of Professor John Bercaw. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Columbia University while working with Professor Gerard (Ged) Parkin.

As a graduate student with Bercaw, Tonks studied the structure-electronics relationship of "post-metallocene" alpha olefin polymerization catalysts and explored the photophysics of early transition metal hydrazide complexes. More recently as a postdoctoral scholar with Landis, Tonks has developed safer alternative methodologies for the synthesis of primary phosphines, investigated the kinetics and mechanism of asymmetric olefin hydroformylation under extremely low pressures and developed new ligands for asymmetric hydroformylation.

At the University of Minnesota, Tonks is interested in designing inorganic and organometallic catalysts to carry out new and efficient transformations. His research utilizes inorganic, organometallic and organic synthesis to generate novel catalysts that are studied in depth through kinetic, mechanistic and computational techniques. A large focus of his research is not only on synthesis, but on reaction discovery. In particular, he is interested in developing catalysts for the copolymerization of carbon dioxide with olefins to generate new biodegradable polymers, practical and green routes to heterocycles that could be utilized in novel drug design, and electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction.