Takacs Group
Takacs Group

Meet the Takacs Group

A graduate or postdoctoral student in the Takacs group can expect to receive training in multi-step organic synthesis and significant exposure to one or more of the following specialties: catalysis and organometallic chemistry; asymmetric synthesis; natural products total synthesis; combinatorial chemistry and parallel methods; self-assembly catalyst systems; the design of tight-binding enzyme inhibitors; polymer chemistry; and organic materials chemistry.

Dr. James M. Takacs

Dr. Takacs received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University (1976) where he carried out undergraduate research under the direction of Dr. Paul Hudrlik and his doctorate from Caltech (1981) where he studied under Dr. David A. Evans. After postdoctoral studies under Dr. Albert Eschenmoser at ETH-Zurich (1981-82), he was appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah (1982). He moved to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1988 where he is currently Charles J. Mach University Professor in Chemistry (2011-pres). Dr. Takacs received the UNL College of Arts and Science Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement Award in the Sciences (2008) and served as Chemistry Department Chair (2007-2013). Along with numerous undergraduate coworkers, more than 60 graduate students and postdocs have trained in the Takacs labs.

Prof. Takacs’ research interests reside in the area of synthetic organic chemistry where his research group focuses on new ways to assemble complex organic structures using transition metal catalysis. The research includes the design, discovery and development of new synthetic methods based on transition metal-catalyzed carbon-carbon bond forming reactions and the application of these new methods to the synthesis biologically interesting compounds. His group has made significant contributions to the field of metal-catalyzed carbocyclizations in its earliest days, publishing the first examples of catalytic iron-mediated carbocyclizations. Other work in his group has focused on the design and development of self-assembled ligands and supramolecular catalysts. The latter work combines concepts from biocatalysis and chemocatalysis in the rational evolution of supramolecular catalysts exhibiting enzyme-like elements of selectivity. His group uncovered some of the most successful developments in asymmetric catalysis by supramolecular catalysts in this still very young and emerging field.

Recent work in the Takacs group has focused on developing Catalytic Asymmetric HydroBoration (CAHB) of substrates capable of two-point metal binding, mostly using chiral rhodium catalysts. CAHB has been around for a long time, and while many outstanding research groups have contributed to understanding the (fiendishly complex) catalyzed counterpart of a classic stoichiometric reaction in organic chemistry, the catalyzed alternative is only now finding more general application. In a new direction for the work, his group found that the “cab ride” to hydroboration can be diverted by H2 to arrive at Catalytic Asymmetric Hydrogenation (CAH).

Dr. Takacs was a member of the NIH Biomedical Study Section (1991-95) and an ad hoc member on several NIH Special Emphasis Panels, a member and 1996 chair of the Canvassing Committee for the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (1993-96), conference chair for the 1994 Gordon Research Conference on Organic Reactions and Processes, and a consultant for the Medical Research Division, Lederle Laboratories (1992), the Educational Testing Service (1996), American Cyanamid Agrochemicals Division (1996), and North Dakota EPSCoR (1997). He lists more than 50 scientific publications, including invited chapters in Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry II, Houben-Weyl E 21 and the Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic synthesis, and in addition, has presented more than 75 invited technical lectures.

Dr. James M. Takacs, Charles Mach University Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
807B Hamilton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0304
Email: jtakacs1@unl.edu
Office: (402) 472-6232