Donald A. Watson was born in California in 1976. He received his BS in Chemistry from UC San Diego in 1998. During his undergraduate years, he worked in the laboratories of Professors K.C. Nicolaou and Emmanuel Theodorakis, working on natural products synthesis. He completed his PhD in Organic Chemistry at UC Irvine in 2004, working under the direction of Professor Larry E. Overman. His dissertation work focused on stereochemical problems in palladium-catalyzed transformations.
From 2004 to 2006 he was a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratories of Professor Robert G. Bergman at UC Berkeley. During this time he developed zirconium-based catalysts for asymmetric intramolecular hydroaminations. He then moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to take a position as a Postdoctoral Associate in Professor Stephen L. Buchwald’s laboratory, where he studied metal catalyzed processes for C-F bond formation.
He joined the Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty at the University of Delaware as an Assistant Professor in July 2009. His research focuses on the development of new chemical methods for preparing organic molecules and structures, with a particular interest in the development transition-metal based catalytic reactions and in the construction of carbon-heteroatom bonds.
In 2013, he received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Cooperation. In 2015, he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, and served as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Research in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 2015 – 2018. In 2018, he was promoted to Professor.
Professor Watson’s research program is currently supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).