Chemistry Professor Receives NSF Funding for the Development of Novel Catalysts for Alkyne Metathesis and Virtual Reality Teaching Methods


Dr. Lee

Assistant Professor Semin Lee received a $465,000, three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his project titled “Development of Catalysts and Ligands for Alkyne Metathesis.”


BATON ROUGE, August 21, 2020- Alkyne metathesis is a reaction that scrambles C≡C triple bond pairs among molecules. This reaction is typically catalyzed by Mo≡C or W≡C complexes. Alkyne metathesis allows easy access to variety of organic materials and polymers. This project will focus on developing novel catalysts for alkyne metathesis with enhanced reactivity and stability.
Virtual reality demonstating the developent of catalysts

"This research will look deep into the reaction intermediates and mechanisms of alkyne metathesis using tailor-made catalysts,” said Dr. Lee. “The fundamental knowledge gained from the research will improve future catalyst designs. We are aiming at developing user-friendly catalyst that can be widely used."

The research project also supports the utilization of virtual reality (VR) for chemistry education and outreach. Dr. Lee currently uses VR in his undergraduate and graduate organic chemistry courses and at various K-12 outreach events.

“VR allows students to grab and manipulate molecules with their own hands as if they were right in front of them. This experience brings enthusiasm to young students by letting them walk inside and explore molecules,” said Dr. Lee.

The funded project will allow Dr. Lee to develop new VR tools and teaching methods. VR creates an immersive experience in which students learn by doing in a simulated environment. This innovative approach enriches students' understanding of molecules' three-dimensional nature and allows them to play the role of a chemist in a virtual world.

Dr. Lee received his B.S. and M.S. from Sogang University (Seoul, Korea) under the guidance of Prof. Bongjin Moon. He then received his Ph.D. from Indiana University (with Prof. Amar Flood) and worked as a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (with Prof. Jeffrey Moore). He joined the faculty at LSU as an assistant professor in 2017. Dr. Lee’s active-learning pedagogy recently earned him a 2020 LSU College of Science Undergraduate Teaching Award.

To learn more about Dr. Lee’s research, visit the Lee Research Group.



Gretchen Schneider
LSU Department of Chemistry