Professor, Chemistry, UT Austin

IRG 1 Co-Leader

Faculty Investigator, IRG 1

Dr. Eric Anslyn attended the California State University Northridge to receive his BS degree in Chemistry in 1982.  After that he performed doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Dr. Robert Grubbs, and received his PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1987, primarily on mechanistic studies of olefin metathesis.  From that year to 1989 he was a National Science Foundation post-doctoral Fellow at Columbia University working with Dr. Ronald Breslow, studying artificial enzymes.   Dr. Anslyn’s expertise is in mechanistic physical organic chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, and recently materials chemistry. His most well-known work is on the creation of new methods for chemical sensing, reversible covalent bonding, and recently sequence defined polymers. He has been recognized with a variety of research and teaching awards, including: The James Flack Norris Award for physical organic chemistry from the ACS, the Izatt-Christensen Award in supramolecular chemistry, The Czarnik Award for chemical sensing, the ACS Edward Leete Award, and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the ACS. For his novel advances in teaching, he was named an HHMI Professor, and he has won the Texas state-wide Regents Teaching Award.

Broadly speaking, his group focuses on physical organic and supramolecular chemistry. Using mechanistic insights and knowledge of photophysics, they devise sensing systems for real-life applications. They create rapid screening assays for enantiomeric excess, diastereomeric excess, and reaction yield, as a means of facilitating reaction discovery in catalytic asymmetric induction. In addition, their analytical efforts involve the area of differential sensing, where an array of cross-reactive sensors are used to create patterns that are diagnostic of individual analytes or the consistency of complex mixtures. Very recently, his group has delved into the area of reversible covalent bonding, creating a suite of reactions that can all occur simultaneously in the same solution with no crossover between them. This is the primary topic for which his group contributes to the MRSEC. They are exploiting these reactions for material applications, polymer synthesis, complex assembly formation, and self-replicating oligomers.