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Happily Ever After March 8, 2007

Posted by thwalls in Synthetic Chemistry.


 You’ll have to excuse my prolonged hiatus from the blogging world since immediately after my exam, which I passed (woot.), I got two projects dropped on top of me which I’ve been working on now for the past month or so.  I appreciate the interest in how my exam went though. 

As for my exam, I know that some people have different experiences so I thought I’d share how it’s done at UVA.  You walk in, there are 3 professors on your board plus your PI who sits there and shakes his head when you say something wrong.  There are two parts to the exam.  The first part involves the 10 min. presentation of your work then 25-10000 min. of questions then the second part which is the critique of a scholarly article which is chosen by your PI which is also 10 min…followed by more questions.  So the first part goes all right, a lot of pKa questions and of course them wanting me to explain the ins and outs of all the stereospecific reactions that I did.  The second part involved more of the same but one question did hit me and I felt absolutely retarded for missing it.  I know that may offend someone, but I did feel like I just fell off the “short” bus. 


Dr. So-and-So: “I see that you’ve drawn in your stetter reaction an equillibrium between two different structures, one with the proton on the carbon and one with the proton on the oxygen.  So the reaction could proceed in two different ways depending on which side of the equillibrium dominates, what’s that called?

Tom: Well it could have to do with…(I’ll save you the time of listening to the BS that I came up with and just jump to the point…)

 Dr. So-and-So:  The answer I was looking for was the Curtin-Hammett principle.

 Tom: Oh yes, I understand what you mean. (Are you kidding Tom, you studied that a thousand times, you had a demonstration of it with the substitution of butadiene.  You are truly an idiot.)

 But to make a long story short, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and the studying did help make life in the lab a lot easier.  I’m going to try to put more of my nonsense out there, especially since I do have a little bit more down time on my hands.  Even though I’ve discovered the excitement of the Daphniphyllum alkaloids and their fused hexacyclic nature.  Nice.



1. Hap - March 22, 2007

I don’t know if I’m missing something, but that doesn’t seem to be the Curtin-Hammett principle. From Carey and Sundberg A 4th (p.221), the Curtin-Hammett principle seems to be that the relative energies of transition states leading to product determines the ratio of products formed rather than the position of equilibrium of reactant states (when the reactant equilibrium is rapid and significantly lower than the barriers to product formation). The Stetter reaction seems like a good example – unless the equilibrium isn’t rapid or the ions differ a lot in energy, the products will be determined by the rates of conversion of the ions to product rather than the position of the initial equilibrium. That seems like the opposite of what the professor was saying.

I would have choked, though.

2. Al - May 14, 2007

I just surfed onto this page. I was looking for a daily blog or something like that for synthetic chemists. I am just starting a PhD program in synthetic chemistry at IU, and was hoping to find a site where I can spend 10 – 15 min. seeing some new reactions. I am well aware of organic-chemistry.org, but I am looking for something more like a blog type website. Does anyone know of any good websites???

3. Karl Hungus - August 10, 2007

Try Totally Synthetic blog.

4. shenoah - August 23, 2008

did you know native people used poison dart frogs to poison their darts

5. Emma cristal - September 24, 2008

I would like to wall paper my room with photos of posion dart frogs can i get some from someone? Thanks,


6. Natalie - December 30, 2008

is this the plain poision dart FROG.

7. ginger cook - May 1, 2009

i love the posion dart frog their so cute

8. lucia - October 23, 2009

i like it so much that i am doing a project on it <333

9. luciavazine - March 9, 2013

Reblogged this on Organic Reactions in Medchem.

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