O'Connor, Joseph
Organotransition metal; organic; physical organic; bioorganometallic; synthetic; and inorganic chemistry

Contact Information
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Office: Pacific Hall 4140B
Phone: 858-534-5836
Email: jmoconnor@ucsd.edu
Web: oconnorgroup.ucsd.edu/
Group: View group members
1984 Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
1979 M.S., St. Louis University
1976 B.S., John Carroll University
Awards and Academic Honors
University of California San Diego Distinguished Teaching Award
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Fellow
1986, 1987
UC Chancellor's Faculty Fellowship
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests
Radically new transformations of inorganic and organic molecules are highly desirable due to the impact that chemical reactivity has on diverse areas of the chemical sciences, such as pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, catalysis, materials, theory, etc. Highlighted below are three representative areas of ongoing research in the O'Connor group, which afford students opportunities to become experts in synthetic and mechanistic chemistry.Bioorganometallic Chemistry. Bioorganometallic chemistry is only now in its infancy; however, it is clear that a great deal of exciting chemistry lies at the interface of biology and organometallic chemistry. We are currently developing new organometallic triggering mechanisms and technology for drug delivery. An example invovles the synthesis of new organometallic DNA cleavage agents in which a metal is employed to stabilize highly reactive organic enediyne molecules, deliver the molecules to biological targets (e.g. DNA), and ultimately to provide for new triggering mechanisms for unmasking the desired biological activity. In related work, new metal-catalyzed Bergman cycloaromatization of enediynes and Hopf cycloaromatization of dienynes is leading to the development of new metal-catalyzed synthetic methodology.Metallacyclobutene Chemistry. Metallacyclobutenes have been proposed as key intermediates in numerous metal-catalyzed reactions of alkynes and cyclopropenes, yet little is known about the chemistry of late-metal metallacyclobutenes. We have developed a new route into metallacyclobutene complexes based on the reactions of metal-alkyne complexes with diazocarbonyls. This new chemistry has opened the door to the first broad-based reactivity studies on late-metal metallacyclobutenes. Early results indicate that this class of compounds represents useful and exciting new reactive intermediates for chemical synthesis.Carbon-Sulfur Bond Activation. Carbon-element bond activation by transition metals is one of the most challenging areas of modern chemical research. Our first direct observation of metal insertion into a sulfoxide carbon-sulfur bond has now set the stage for a new chapter in carbon-element bond activation. We are now examining the scope, limitations, and mechanism of this fundamentally new bond activation process.
Primary Research Area
Organic Chemistry
Interdisciplinary interests
Physical Organic

Outreach Activities
Actively mentor several underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral scholars.

Participate as a mentor in the Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences (STARS) program.

Committee member, Faculty Advisory Committee Office of Student Disabilities

Panel reviewer for the NSF Gradate Research Fellowship Program, Washington D.C.

Author of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry NSF “Plan for Broadening Participation”

Committee member, UCSD Committee on Student Affirmative Action
Image Gallery

The synthesis of a sterically congested metallacylobutene complex has led to the first observation of a metallacyclobutene to eta-3-vinylcarbene interconversion

The first hexahapto metal complex of a conjugated acyclic tri-pi hydrocarbon provides insight into the mechanism of dienyne cycloaroatizations

Selected Publications