The People of the Arduengo Group (aka "THE A-TEAM")

As is always the case, it's the individuals who make up a research group who determine its "personality", dynamics, and success.  The Arduengo Research Group is fortunate to have benefited from wonderful members from the U.S., Germany, Romania, Japan, India, South Korea, Iran, Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka, and other corners of the Globe.  It is the hardwork and inventiveness of these many individuals who have produced the success and comradery that we have all enjoyed.  The following linked photos will load with a mouse-over function to identify the individuals.

In 2020, the Arduengo Research Group moved back to its point of origin, the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech.  Dr. Jochen Ortmeyer was instrumental in the initial phases of the laboratory relocation while he continued to meet obligations for the group's research for the Medicines for All Institute.  Unfortunately, some of the tumultuous events of 2020 necessitated the return of Dr. Ortmeyer to Germany before the lab relocation was complete.

In 2018 A. J. Arduengo retired and assumed a position of Saxon Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Alabama.  Research continued in the In the Alabama Group and focused primarily on syntheses of Active Pharmaceutical Inermediates as part of the Medicines for All Initiative in collaboration with research groups at VCU, MIT, JGU-Mainz, and the University of Graz.  In the Arduengo group at Alabama, the effort was led by skilled post-doctoral associates including Dr. Sascha Wiechmann, Dr. Bashir Hashimi, Dr. Peter Moore, and Dr. Jochen Ortmeyer. A number of dedicated and talented undergraduate researchers including Rishab Iyer, Katie Davis, Darcy Hinton, Paul Goss, Casey Fulkerson, Sydney McPeak, Christopher Fantin, Oni Tunson, Brady Bennett, Katie Holcomb, Madison Wollenzier, Nicholas Thompson, Alexa Smitherman, Alexandrea Collins, and Casey Roach supported the M4ALL effort.  A portion of that group is depicted here. Shortly before the Arduengo Group's departure from Alabama, we were fortunated to be joined in the M4ALL work by Ph.D. candidate Amar Chakraborty and Professor Tim Snowden.

In 1999 our research effort at Alabama began with Dr. Alexander Jockish as the first member to join our Tuscaloosa group.  Soon the group expanded with the first Alabama undergraduate and graduate students and the addition of a Feodor-Lynen Fellow, Dr. Thomas Bannenberg ("Banny").  That group is pictured in this photo during "a day at the ranch" from July of 2002 (the model of the carbene is a real 1:1010 scale model built by Banny and AJA).

The group later expanded to included a number of outstanding Adjunct members of the group, including: Dr. Owen W. Webster (retired DuPont), Professor Masaaki Yoshifuji (retired Tohoku University, Sendai), Professor Rainer Streubel (Bonn), Professor Mathias Tamm (Braunschweig), and Professor Heinrich Lang (Chemnitz).  These distinguished scientists have contributed mightily to the group over the years.  This photo from 2006 shows Masaaki Yoshifuji and Owen Webster along with the changing faces in the group.

Personnel exchanges also offer diversity to the group.  The research group enjoys personnel exchanges with laboratories in Japan (Hiroshima) and Germany (Bonn, Braunschweig, Chemnitz and Köln).  This photo from Spring 2009 shows Sven Arenz and Christiane Knappke (both from research groups in Cologne) enjoying a relaxing Spring day in Alabama with Crimson Tide baseball.

In 2010 a portion of the group had an opportunity to travel to Hoover, Alabama for the SEC Baseball Tournament.  In the first game, Alabama (#7 seed) handily dispatched Auburn (#2 seed) 7-1.  On this occasion we were fortunate to be joined by Professor Rainer Streubel from Bonn, Germany.  This picture shows the group over the Alabama dugout, just as Jimmy Nelson (the winning pitcher for Alabama) walks by in the background. Here the group is visible in their seats behind homeplate among a few frustrated Auburn fans.

During the Summer of 2010 we were joined again by talented visitors from Germany.  Lili Duan (Bonn), Maximilian Ruppert (Landau), and Frederic Condin (Schwäbisch Gmünd) were present as visiting scholars funded by DAAD and DFG.  Maren Bode (Bonn) joined the group as a post-doctoral associate funded by Lightwave Logic, Inc. Over the Summer months it's difficult get get everyone together at the same time, but these pictures show lunch (a former group member, Daniela Tapu was also present on this occasion) and dinner outings with the group.  In early September, the group was able to make an excursion to Barber Motorsports Park and Museum for a day of SCCA regionals.  Here's a picture of some of the group checking out the Porsches that are used at the Porsche Sport Driving School at Barber.  Joey appears to have lost the key to his Porsche.

A few pictures were taken of the UA work force tackling non-linear optical materials research in collaboration with Lightwave Logic, Inc.  This photo shows (left to right) Steven Kelley, Jason Runyon, Maren Bode and Andreea Cojocaru working on an X-ray structure.  Here Joey Nelson and Andreea are working on materials synthesis.  Alabama baseball remains a popular group diversion on weekends. In this Spring 2012 picture, Matthias Mayer is pictured at "The Joe" with the new group members Alex Hildebrandt and Andrij Dreger.  With the departure of Matthias Mayer in early Spring, the collaboration with Lightwave Logic ended and the group's applied research turned exclusively to UA's solar photovoltaics program.   NneAmaka Enweani
and Cameron Miller  joined this effort tailoring application specific dyes and designing novel photovoltaic cells.

In the Summer of 2012 two DAAD supported scholars, Armin Auch and Christoph Schinnen joined the group.  By the end of August 2012 it was time to say "goodbye" to Alex Hildebrandt and Yosuke Uchiyama. The group gathered at Cracker Barrel as these two group members departed.  In December, it  was time to bid farewell to Andrij Dreger who had spent a year with the group developing some truly exceptional nonlinear optical dyes and chromophores for solar photovolatics.

Over the years at Alabama members of the Arduengo Research group have had an opportunity to meet many distinguished scientist who visited to present the Chemistry Department's lectureship in Physical Organic Chemistry and Main Group Element Chemistry.  Here the group is pictured with Robert Moss in March 2012.  This photo depicts the group with Robert Grubbs in April 2013.

For many years before the Arduengo Group took up residence at Alabama, the group was active in the industrial setting at DuPont's Experimental Station and Central Research & Development Department. From 1984 through 1997 the Arduengo group was active in the areas of small molecule chemistry (unusual valency) and polymer science.  Throughout this time an excellent cast of scientists and technicians contributed to the activities of the group.  Dick Harlow, Joe Calabrese, Will Marshall, and Fred Davidson were scientists within the corporate analytical service whose input, support, and guidance enabled much of the work published during the 'DuPont period' and much more work which has yet to be published. Dave Dixon became a regular collaborator with the Arduengo group beginning in 1984 and those rich and insightful interactions continue to this day. Beyond the many excellent staff scientists at CR&D were outstanding technicians and assistants who not only contributed to the research effort, but in fact conducted many of the complex experiments and oversaw most aspects of the laboratory infra-structure.  This latter group of coworkers included Mike Kline, Usha Sharma, and Hugh Craig.  Many other DuPont employees were available for stimulating discussions of science and technology and these discussions spawned many of the thought processes that would later evolve into full-fledged research projects.  Howard Simmons, Jr., George Parshall, Ed Wasserman, Bruce Smart, Tada Fukunaga, Harris Hartzler, Owen Webster, Al Anderson, Mike Ward, Fred Tebbe, Bill Nugent, Chad Tolman, Steve Ittel, T.V. Rajanbabu, Howard Simmons, III, Andy Feiring, Carl Krespan, Joel Miller, Tom Baker, Dave Thorn, Bill Farnham, Dave Eaton, and many other top notch scientists contributed
to the group in this 'sounding board' role. The group was also populated by a string of exceptional post-doctoral associates, Visiting Research Scientists, and visiting faculty.  These scientists, who are listed in the Visiting Research Scientists section of these pages, were responsible for  bringing a great scientific diversity to the group's efforts and their results, intuition, and skill strongly influence the scientific direction and productivity of the group.  Unfortunately, as is common in an industrial environment, concerns for security and protection of proprietary corporate information were the basis for a ban of cameras on the Experimental Station property.  Hence, not many pictures exist of the marvelous collection of colleagues who were either directly part of the Arduengo group or influenced the direction of the group. On returning to DuPont's CR&D after seven years in academics at The University of Illinois, the Arduengo group (consisting of Dr. Constanine {Connie} Stewart, Hugh Craig, Mike Kline, and AJA) took up residence within a collection of scientists in the Chemical Sciences section led by Tada Fukunaga and Bruce Smart.  One other member of the Arduengo group, Charles (Chip) Palmer remained at Illinois and later moved to Vanderbilt with J.C. Martin to finish his Ph.D. dissertation research begun in AJA's Illinois Group.  Chip would later become a DuPonter himself after graduation.  The Fukunaga-Smart group in CR&D had evolved from a highly exploratory collection of chemists that had once been a part of special basic research group reporting to Howard (Howie) Simmons, Jr. and led in the middle seventies by Owen Webster before he moved into the Polymer Science area.  The "exploratory group" was extremely diverse and dynamic and offered a most demanding and stimulating environment for a scientist; super colleagues, cutting edge science, and equipment and experimental support second to none. There were a number of traditions at DuPont around year's end. One of these was an annual "Christmas Lunch" that took place at Pala's (home of the World's Worst Pizza) on the last consulting trip made by Jack Roberts to DuPont every year.  The Pala's lunch was attended by an 'old guard' who, in part, were the architects, contributors, and benefactors of the 'Halcyon Days' of DuPont's CR&D. Occassionally, a promising young apprentice would be invited to participate.  Unfortunately, quite a few members of that lunch group have passed away and the "younger" members (themselves a bit long in tooth now) have scattered to the winds. Contrary to Pala's World's Worst Pizza sign, the lunches were actually quite good.  Most attendees did have their habitual choices; Jack's meatball sub and AJA's Philly cheese steak still come to mind. The research groups at DuPont generally shared a lunch together off-site during the year-end holidays. The picture here shows a Thanksgiving lunch for the Fukunaga-Smart group in 1987. In the early nineties, the Arduengo group moved from the Chemical Science section of CR&D to Polymer Sciences and so began the final years for the group at DuPont.  It was during this time in Polymer Sciences that AJA took a year's leave of the Company to take up research, study, and teaching in Germany (vide infra). Two of the last members of the Arduengo group at DuPont, Roland Krafczyk and Markus Unverzagt, are captured in this 1997 photo in front of the Experimental Station's main gate.

In 1996 the award of a senior Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize opened opportunities for new experiences, colleagues, and friendships. The first big task - LEARN GERMAN!  For an individual who had studied the German language in college only to discover that he had no knack for foreign languages, this was not an easy task, but thanks to the skill and persistence of Frau Hannelore Knaak a proficiency was developed that served as an excellent basis for all the interactions and experiences in Germany.  In Braunschweig at the Technische Universität Carolo-Wilhemina zu Braunschweig, Professor Reinhard Schmutzler of the Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry was a most gracious, and helpful host.  Additionally, Professors  Wolf-Walther du Mont and Henning Hopf  kindly offered their guidance and advice on all things cultural and chemical in Germany.  This photo shows Reinhard Schmutzler and AJA in a newly setup lab that would  be the site of much exciting chemistry.  Roland Krafczyk was the graduate student who joined  Reinhard Schmutzler and AJA in this international research effort.  Here Roland is shown in his laboratory in Braunschweig, but later his work would continue at DuPont's Experimental Station (vide supra).

Prior to the DuPont residency of the group, the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana served as "home" and "birthplace."  The Illinois years ran from 1977 through 1984.  These years began with a transition from a sojourn in industry (originally intended as an industrial post-doctoral experience) to the hallowed halls of academe.  The initial group members were Steve Harper at the graduate level, Greg Ames as the first undergraduate researcher and Dr. K. Srinvasachar as a post-doctoral associate.
The inception of research programs was coupled with laboratory setup and the first group members undertook a range of tasks including construction, outfitting, research, and, of course, study.  The dedication and hard work of the group founders allowed a refocus and refining of initial research concepts to programs that eventually led to the identification of very fruitful fields of research that have continued to evolve through the subsequent years.  As time progressed at Illinois, the group grew in size with the addition of researchers at the graduate and undergraduate level who, with their own exceptional skills and self-confidence, were willing to take a chance on a young faculty member.  This was a wonderful set of first apprentices and co-workers, who quickly developed into fine scientists and professionals.  The members of the Illinois group are presented in the Theses, Undergraduate Researchers, and Visiting Research Scientists sections of these pages.  In 1979 Tada Fukunaga took a sabbatical from DuPont to spend time at the University of Illinois (this visit coincided with J.C. Martin's sabbatical in Germany as a Humboldt Preisträger).  The Arduengo Group was thus able to benefit from Tada's advice and counsel.  Bashir Hashemi was the second graduate student to join our Illinois group and a photo from 1979 captures Bashir and Tada outside Roger Adams Lab.  The years at Illinois not only enjoyed the comradery and friendship of the Arduengo group members, but the Illinois faculty were excellent and enjoyable colleagues.  Interactions with Professor J.C. Martin were particularly dynamic and productive.  Regrettably, many pictures of the Arduengo Group during the Illinois years have been lost in the course of frequent relocations. A surviving picture of AJA teaching an organic chemistry class in 1979 recalls this assistant professor's early independent academic career, but regrettably does not include the important depictions of students and co-workers.

Before the beginnings of the Arduengo Group at Illinois there had been a short internship at DuPont's CR&D Department in Wilmington, Delaware.  Initially, this appointment was to have been an industrial postdoctoral period for AJA.  However, on arrival in Wilmington the offer of a position had evolved a bit.  The Visiting Research Scientist program had been suspended temporarily (something that would happen off and on at DuPont through subsequent years as well).   This freshly minted Ph.D. was informed that he could accept compensation for the trouble of his trip to Wilmington and return home (whatever 'home' means in such a circumstance - having closed a chapter on one portion of one's life and moved on to the next);  or, alternatively, the offer of a position with DuPont would be for that of a regular exempt staff scientist.  After some discussion and clear agreement by both parties that the employment with DuPont did not necessarily carry a life-long commitment. The possibility remained that the position could still be temporary pending the results of applications for faculty positions.  This latter employment offer seemed generous and carried with it a bit of job security that was actually quite attractive.   All-in-all this was a very fortunate turn of events.  The first position as an exempt scientist with DuPont was in Howie Simmons' Exploratory Group (with Owen Webster as group leader/supervisor at that time).  Only later would it be fully clear what a great opportunity this was.  The first laboratory environment was in a two-person laboratory with a labmate named Tadamichi Fukunaga (Tada).  The entire experience with DuPont's CRD was fantastic - mind and experience broadening beyond belief. These first industrial experiences not only served to open wide new frontiers in chemistry for AJA, but also served as a terrific platform to observe and understand the complex fit of chemistry and society.  These experiences would serve one well in an academic position.  Actually, one might argue that such an experience be a prerequsite for any university teaching position in the sciences.  Tada was an exceptional first labmate and eased the transition from academe into industry.  Tada knew the industry, but was also an intellectually well-heeled pie-in-the-sky thinker.  For the first several months in the lab together, Tada would occasionally comment to AJA, "I'm old enough to be your father."  However, Tada's young looks belied his age and the statement never seemed to be one that should be taken seriously.  During one afternoon's discussion, the question was finally posed "How old are you really?"  The answer to that question drew the comment, "You're actually older than my father." With that the matter was never discussed again - it was of no importance anyway.  One of Tada's favorite diversions at that time was his simple Hückel calculations on an allotrope of carbon shaped like a soccer ball - C60 - who knew!   Many other world-class scientists graced the halls of 328 building.  These scientists were not only  among the staff members, but also among the many renowned consultants who were an integral part of the DuPont scientific community.  Many of these scientists would surface and resurface in later portions of this chemist's career.  Jack Roberts, Carl (Speed) Marvel, Andy Strietweiser, Doug Applequist, Roald Hoffmann, and others too numerous to mention served as conduits to the world outside the Experimental Station.  Another memory of those early years in CR&D was the general open-door policy among scientists and management.  Howie Simmons' office was on the fourth floor of 328 building.  The vice President's office had two doors; one opening directly onto the hallway and the other into his secretary's office (the latter entrance to be used by those following the proper corporate etiquette). The fouth floor was primarily administrative and, for a staff chemist, "legitimate" reasons to ascend to the fourth floor were rare.  Nonetheless, Howie was a thought-provoking dialog partner and more than willing (in fact eager) to discuss any new and interesting result.  One had only to walk by Howie's office, catch Howie's glance and then accept his invitation to stop in for a chat.  Most times this would happen to the shagrin of Howie's secretary who had to work very hard to keep Howie from being distracted from his administrative and broader corporate responsibilites.  For a simple 'Southern Boy' the experience at DuPont's CR&D in those days was definitely a dive into the deep end of the intellectual pool; the waters were refereshing, the colleagues helpful and friendly, and the overall experience an enlightenment that is hard to describe.