A variety of educational opportunities arise in pursuit of the general research goal of the Evans group namely to discover unique chemistry with the lanthanides, actinides, yttrium, and bismuth that expands our chemical understanding and contributes to solving important practical problems with particular emphasis on energy and the environment.
In fact, diversity in learning opportunities is one of the characteristics of the Evans group. Different types of research projects (synthetic, mechanistic, structural, spectroscopic, catalytic, macromolecular, organic transformational) are simultaneously pursued in the group attacking a variety of different practical problems.
This leads to a broad educational exposure to both specific topics and approaches to research. However, the group hangs together because of a common link through the metals involved.
A good example of the diverse experience obtainable in the Evans group comes from a student who joined the group to use the lanthanides in organic synthesis. A summary of the student's Ph.D activities follows.
The student's "starter" project, designed to give him a positive research result on a well defined project, let to a paper in organometallic chemistry:
"Hydrolytic Reactivity of a Samarium(II) Organometallic Complex: Synthesis and Structure of a Hexametallic Organosamarium Oxide Hydroxide, [(C5Me5)Sm]6O9H6" W. J. Evans, N. T. Allen, M. A. Greci, and J. W. Ziller, Organometallics 2001, 20, 2936-2937.
The student's initial dissertation project involved the use of lanthanides in organic synthesis. This resulted in three papers"
"Ketone Coupling with Alkyl Iodides, Bromides, and Chlorides using Thulium Diiodide: A More Powerful Version of SmI2(THF)x/HMPA," W. J. Evans and N. T. Allen, Journal of the American Chemical Society 2000, 122, 2118-2119.
"Utility of Neodymium Diiodide as a Reductant in Ketone Coupling Reactions," W. J. Evans, P. S. Workman, and N. T. Allen, Organic Letters, 2003, 5, 2041-2042.
The project evolved to studying some organometallic chemistry that involved the synthesis of the first example of a new type of metallocene and an inorganic reaction, the reduction of dinitrogen:
"Facile Dinitrogen Reduction Via Organometallic Tm(II) Chemistry," W. J. Evans, N. T. Allen, and J. W. Ziller, Journal of the American Chemical Society 2001, 123, 7927-7928.
"A Large Scale Synthesis of Dysprosium and Neodymium Diiodides," W. J. Evans, N. T. Allen, P. S. Workman, and J. C. Meyer, Inorganic Chemistry, 2003, 42, 3097-3099.
"Polymerization of Isoprene by a Single Component Lanthanide Catalyst Precursor," W. J. Evans, D. G. Giarikos, and N. T. Allen, Macromolecules, 2003, 36, 4256-4257.