William B. Tolman

Abstract von Prof. Dr. William B. Tolman, Department of Chemistry and Center for Sustainable Polymers, Washington University in St. Louis

Plastics from Plants: Catalytic Synthesis of Sustainable Polymers

As replacements for petroleum-based plastics, environmentally-friendly polymeric materials derived from biorenewable feedstocks hold great promise as scientists seek to implement green chemistry practices for sustainable technological development. The widespread implementation of biorenewable polymers will require knowledge of the chemistry involved in converting the molecules (natural or engineered) provided by plants into compounds that can readily be converted to new and useful polymeric materials. Efforts to obtain this knowledge under the rubric of the Center for Sustainable Polymers (an NSF Center for Chemical Innovation) will be presented, with an emphasis on research aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which renewable polyesters are prepared through catalytic ring-opening polymerizations of cyclic esters and the alternating copolymerization of epoxides and anhydrides.

Curriculum Vitae von Prof. Dr. William B. Tolman

William B. Tolman obtained a B.S. degree from Wesleyan University, CT, in 1983, where he performed organometallic chemistry research under the direction of Alan R. Cutler. He did graduate research with K. Peter C. Vollhardt at the University of California, Berkeley, that culminated in a Ph.D. in 1987. He was then introduced to bioinorganic chemistry during a postdoctoral period, 1987-1990, in the laboratory of Stephen J. Lippard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota in 1990, and rose through the ranks there to Distinguished McKnight University Professor. He is a member of the Center Sustainable Polymers and recently was Chair of the Department of Chemistry (2009-2016). He began his current position at Washington University in St. Louis on January 1, 2018. Among the honors he has received are the Searle Scholars, NSF National Young Investigator, Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Awards, the Buck-Whitney Medal from the American Chemical Society, a Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation, and the ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry (2017). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. He served as Associate Editor (2009-2012) and now as Editor-in-Chief of Inorganic Chemistry (2013-present), and served on the governing boards of the ACS Petroleum Research Fund and the Council for Chemical Research. He also served as Chair of the Gordon Research Conferences on Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms (2005) and Metals in Biology (2011). Current research in his group encompasses synthetic bioinorganic and organometallic/polymer chemistry. In the bioinorganic area, the objective is to gain a fundamental structural, spectroscopic, and mechanistic understanding of metalloprotein active sites of biological and environmental importance via the synthesis, characterization, and examination of the reactivity of model complexes. The current goal of his research in the organometallic/polymer area is to synthesize and characterize a variety of metal complexes for use as catalysts for the polymerization of cyclic esters and for converting biomass feedstocks to useful monomers. In this project, particular emphasis is being placed on developing controlled synthesis of polymers derived from renewable resources.

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