Kevin Shaughnessy

Kevin Shaughnessy

Director of Undergraduate Studies


  • Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University, 1997-1999
  • PhD, Stanford University, 1998
  • BS, University of Nebraska, 1992

Research Areas

  • Metal-catalyzed organic reaction development
  • Mechanistic study


Research in the Shaughnessy group focuses on organometallic chemistry. One of the most interesting and important applications of organometallic complexes is as catalysts in organic synthesis. Therefore our efforts are focused on understanding organometallic reaction mechanisms that are relevant to important catalytic systems. By understanding the mechanism by which organometallic species catalyze important transformations, we can develop new or improved synthetic methodologies. Our group is particularly interested in how the structure of ligands affects catalyst performance and in developing stable precatalysts that are primed for active species under catalytic reaction conditions. Current research efforts in the group include the following:

  • Structure-activity relationships for ligands: The Shaughnessy group has a long-standing interest in understanding how steric and electronic properties of ligands affect catalyst performance.  In collaboration with computational chemists, we try to understand how ligand design can be used to design more efficient catalyst systems.  Much of this work has focused on phosphine ligands with applications in palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions.
  • Stable precatalyst complexes for high activity catalysts: Active catalyst species are typically unstable species that must be generated in the reaction from a more stable precatalyst.  Our group has been working to develop air-stable palladium complexes that undergo efficient convertion to palladium(0) active species under catalytic reaction conditions.
  • Metal-ligand cooperative catalysis:  There is a growing interest in designing metal catalysts where both the metal and the ligand are involved in catalytic processes, such as bond activation or formation.  Our group is exploring new ligand structures that provide acid/base sites near a metal center to promote cleavage of bonds, such as C-H or C-O bonds, through metal-ligand cooperation.

Students in the Shaughnessy group gain experience in a wide range of synthetic techniques for organic and organometallic synthesis as well as experience with a variety of spectroscopic techniques (i.e., NMR, IR, UV/Visible, and mass spectroscopy, as well as X-ray crystallography).  Shaughnessy group members also gain experience in science communication through oral and written presentations.

Selected Publications

Dr. Shaughnessy’s publication list