Current Group Member: Chas Fields

Graduate Student since Fall 2021

Education: B.S. Chemical Engineering , Minor General Business – Iowa State University

Thesis Topic: Bio-derived Monomers for Renewable and Recyclable Polymers

Research Description:

Reducing our dependence on petroleum-derived chemicals for consumer products requires the development of renewable alternatives. Recent investigations have demonstrated a pathway to prepare an attractive platform chemical, 4,4’-dimethylbiphenyl (4,4′-DMBP), from readily available biomass precursors. 4,4′-DMBP has demonstrated utility in producing metal- organic frameworks, plasticizers, and polymer precursors; it is a platform chemical for engineering novel and high-performance materials.

The renewable synthesis of 4,4′-DMBP follows a two-step process in which 2-methylfuran (MF) is oxidatively coupled to yield 5,5’-dimethylbifuran (5,5′-DMBF). 5,5′-DMBF then undergoes tandem Diels-Alder and dehydration reactions with ethylene to afford the desired 4,4′-DMBP product. My work has been centered around intensifying these reactions to yield a scalable pathway for renewable monomer synthesis.


Other fun facts or hobbies: Outside of my research, I enjoy cooking and trying new foods. I also enjoy spending a lot of time outside, whether running (I just finished my first half marathon), hiking, or simply reading a book. Music is also one of my passions, my favorite artist currently is Conan Gray, and I recently picked up learning how to play the piano.

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