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MIT Scholar Re-Launches Turner J. Alfrey Visiting Professorship

Jeremiah Johnson PhD from MIT

MSU St. Andrews was pleased to host the Turner J. Alfrey visiting professorship series on May 23 and 24, 2018. Jeremiah A. Johnson, Ph.D. is the Firmenich Career Development Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Program in Polymers and Soft Matter, at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

MSU St. Andrews continued the annual event begun by the Michigan Molecular Institute in 1973 and named for Dr. Alfrey in 1981. Each year, a leading scientist is invited to teach a short course, visit sponsoring organizations, and deliver additional research seminars, benefiting many people by providing a point of connection between local scientists and engineers with world leaders in polymer science. The list of past Turner Alfrey visiting professors includes several Nobel Prize winners.


Precision in macromolecular synthesis: when, where, and how much do the details matter?
Jeremiah A. Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT Department of Chemistry, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

Motivated by nature, polymer chemists have long sought methods and strategies for the synthesis of macromolecules with precise structures. Existing approaches typically require a trade-off between structural control and atom economy/scalability. Seeking more efficient strategies, and driven by specific functional targets, we have developed approaches that simultaneously offer enhanced precision and efficiency in a variety of contexts. This symposium highlighted several of these efforts, which include:

  • Iterative exponential growth plus sidechain functionalization (IEG+);
  • Brush-first ring-opening metathesis polymerization;
  • N-heterocyclic carbene surface anchors;
  • Photo-redox catalyzed growth and network disassembly spectrometry.

The advantages of these approaches for achieving new or otherwise difficult-to-access functions was discussed in the broader context of precision in macromolecular synthesis.

The Johnson Laboratory Group at MIT,  seeks creative, macromolecular solutions to problems at the interface of chemistry, medicine, biology, and materials science. Johnson’s team firmly believes the solutions to many of mankind’s greatest problems: prevention and treatment of disease, development of alternative energy sources, preservation of natural resources, etc., will rely on the interdisciplinary application of synthetic chemistry.

Professor Johnson’s Bio:

Jeremiah conducted undergraduate research with Prof. Karen L. Wooley at Washington University in St. Louis where he received a B.S. in biomedical engineering with a second major in chemistry.  He then moved to Columbia University where he received a Ph.D. in chemistry under the mentorship of Prof. Nicholas J. Turro.  He then held a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship at California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Professors David A. Tirrell and Robert H. Grubbs.  He is now the Firmenich Career Development Associate Professor of Chemistry at MIT, where he has been since in July 2011. He is also a member of the MIT Program for Polymers and Soft Matter (PPSM) as well as the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Jeremiah received the 2018 Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Air Force Young Investigator Award, the Thieme Journal Award for Young Faculty, the DuPont Young Professor Award, the 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, and an NSF CAREER award. In recognition of his teaching, he was awarded the 2018 MIT School of Science Undergraduate Teaching Prize. The Johnson research group is focused on the development of methods and strategies for macromolecular synthesis and surface functionalization.