The Walker Research Group


Current research in the Walker group encompasses synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry. Our group seeks inspiration from biological systems, to designs simple NS analogues that are based in part on the active site and coordination sphere of metalloproteins such as blue copper proteins (BCP) for application towards medicinal chemistry, biomedical imaging and molecular sensors. The 14-membered macrocycles with alternating 2,3,2,3 are considered ideal systems for the incorporation of copper and other 3d metal ions. Our group specializes in the synthesis and modification of the trans N2S2 but has recently expanded to include the cis propylene and ethylene.

N2S2 chemical layout


Synthetic Optimization

The group is currently investigating alternative synthetic methodologies to make the synthesis of the N2S2 systems safe, simple and efficient in order to quickly achieve product as a scaffold for more advanced systems such as cryptands.


Synthetic Optimization


Cryptand Synthesis

Since Jean-Marie Lehn shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987, cryptand chemistry remains of significant interest for its applications in host-guest chemistry.  Our group seeks to synthesize several new cryptands that incorporate N,S, and O heteroatoms to design a series of new tunable probes with unique chemical and electronic characteristics. Optimization of these systems is of significant interest, due to inter-intramolecular cyclization reactions which is often yield limiting.

 Cryptand Synthesis Tools


Undergraduate Research

Student learning from Professor on a computer screen.

Undergraduate research can enhance a chemistry students education and experiences outside of the traditional classroom.  Dr. Walker is continuously seeking highly motivated students who are looking to participate and contribute to her research.  Student are asked to consider these questions when pursuing undergraduate research opportunities in her group:


  1. Do you have a specific research interest in synthetic chemistry?


Students that do research are expected to have pre-requisite knowledge in the area of organic synthesis by completing both organic I/II with the corresponding labs.


  1. How much time do you want to devote to this research?


Synthesis can be a time-consuming project, especially when the outcome of a reaction is not known.  Typically, junior or senior students will enroll in research with Dr. Walker.  Whether you are given a project that is entirely yours will depend on the time you spend in the lab, your capabilities and the nature of the project. Your time spent in the lab will also be determined by how many credit hours you register for if taking 409 independent study.


Dr. Walker expects all students to participate in bi-weekly/monthly group meetings to discuss student research progress, in addition to enhancing journal comprehension skills.  This time is also used to practice scientific speaking in-front of your peers.


  1. Are any prerequisites required when participating in Dr. Walker’s research group?


Students that do research are expected to have pre-requisite knowledge in the area of organic synthesis by completing both organic I/II with the corresponding labs. Students who join the research group are expected to produce a senior thesis and/or make a presentation to the academic/scientific community.


  1. What skills can I expect to gain from undergraduate research?


Research provides students with the ability to develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills.  Patience and determination are needed to find answers to synthetically challenging reactions and will enhance your experience in industry or your future graduate studies.


  1. What should I do if I am interested in joining Dr. Walkers research group?


If you are interested in pursuing research with Dr. Walker, please visit your department website at to begin the process.