Shortly after I posted this, of course I told all my friends and they want me to write more. One of the people they suggested is Dr. James Leighton of Columbia University. Now there has been some unethical things going on over there, but I checked out Leighton and I can agree with my friends in that he should be added to a profile in sexy science.
James Leighton is another organic chemist working on natural products (is there a trend or something?). It seems he's born and bred Ivy league as he went to undergrad at Yale, did his PhD at Harvard and is now an established professor at Columbia. I would summarize his work, but since I havent met him or read any of his papers, I'm taking his research statement from his website.
Leighton Research Statement
"Our research interests lie in the development of diastereoselective and enantioselective catalytic reactions and the total synthesis of biologically and structurally interesting natural products. Often, these programs are interrelated as reaction methodology developed in the group is brought to bear on target-oriented synthetic problems.
In one active area of investigation, we are developing methods for the efficient synthesis of macrolide antibiotics. This is a large class of medicinally relevant natural products that often contain long polyol segments. We are challenging the supremacy of the aldol reaction in this context and finding that transition metal catalyzed alkene carbonylation reactions offer a unique approach with some advantages. In this approach, the protecting groups are installed as an integral part of the bond-forming and stereochemistry-determining events, and, in stark contrast to aldol chemistry, the products are aldehydes. In this fashion, separate protection and oxidation state adjustment reactions have been obviated, leading to previously unseen levels of efficiency in some cases. In addition, the direct production of aldehydes has led to the discovery of tandem reactions that can establish up to four new stereocenters in a single process. We are continuing to investigate the full scope of these reactions, as well as to pursue new directions that are suggested along the way.
In work related to this program, we are applying the methods we are developing to the efficient synthesis of selected natural products. Target selection is driven by several factors, including biological activity, scarcity, and structural and stereochemical complexity. Recent successes in this regard include the formal synthesis of mycoticin A and the first synthesis of the marine macrolide leucascandrolide A. As the methodology continues to develop, so too will the choice of targets.
In another area, we are actively engaged in the target-oriented synthesis of architecturally complex polycyclic natural products such as CP-263,114 and Phomactin A. We are principally interested in the development of efficient strategies for the synthesis of challenging ring systems. In the process, new reactions are often discovered out of necessity, and, where appropriate, may develop into methodological studies in their own right.
We have also recently initiated a program devoted to the delineation of new principles for the design of asymmetric catalytic reactions. We are investigating chiral Lewis acid catalysts with a second binding element, as well as new methods for the control of regio- and enantio-selectivity in catalytic alkene carbonylation reactions. " - James Leighton
Like I said, he's another natural products chemist and so I need to broaden my horizons and look for another person outside chemistry, but since it's also my field it's a bit difficult. Now, for the part that I know my friends want at least...the analysis.
He looks rather distinguished actually, and seems to have gotten better looking with age. My friends think he's like a fine wine, getting only better with age (Um..okay?). I'll have to admit, I'm a sucker for a well dressed man in a suit so I'll have to give him points on that. He's an older gentleman though, so I cant really analyze much more so I'm going to just let my friends comment on it. They say he's actually a very nice person (yes, I do know grad students at Columbia, they did suggest him), and he's quite easy to get along with. He cares about his students and seems to have a fatherly disposition (Electra complex anyone?). But, I will agree with them that he is all right looking..definitely hot for a chemist.
So, his score!
James Leighton is...a Cayenne pepper!