Current Research

We are currently engaged in the development of organic methodologies toward the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Our recently patented methodology for the decarboxylation of natural and synthetic amino acids utilizes microwave promotion to yield bioactive amines. This work is supported by Innovation Gateway at UGA and the Georgia Research Alliance.


Our natural product synthetic efforts focus on the total synthesis of Isoabietenin A.  Isoabietenin A is a promising synthetic target because of its inclusion of a five membered epoxide ring between rings A and C, the first known example of this epoxide inclusion.  Colophony (obtained from the distillation of these pine resins) remains the primary source of abietanes. 

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Our organic chemistry-based engineering research targets the development of Rotaxane-based metal organic frameworks(MOFs) for use as molecular switches. 

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Pedagogical research in our group involves the use of classroom response systems (clickers) to study decision pathways employed by students in problem-solving.  The elucidation of organic reactions and pathways often involves a series of decision points, much like branches in logic decision trees.  Each option at a decision point is associated with a unique letter or number which may, for example, represent a synthetic reagent or a locant on a parent chain.  Using their clickers, students submit a series of alphanumeric characters which describes the decision pathway they followed to solve the problem.   We are currently developing a databank of these series response questions that provide insight into student problem-solving strategies. 

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The production of new multi-outcome experiments (MOEs) for the undergraduate laboratory curriculum is another challenging area of effort in the Morrison group.  Experiments that require students to develop logical and analytical skills are essential to the undergraduate laboratory.  This is accomplished by introducing “unknown” reagents or substrates into the experiment.  The introduction of “unknowns” allows students to perform standard procedures while obtaining unique results.  Importantly, these experiments must be 1) economical; 2) safe; 3) reproducible; and 4) able to be performed in a standard 3-hour laboratory period.  A MOE variation of the Williamson Ethers Synthesis laboratory experiment is shown.

Reaction Scheme:


Unknown Alkyl Halides:


Selected Publications

Morrison, R. W. ; Atwood, C. H. ; Caughran, J. A. Survival Guide for General, Organic, and Biochemistry with Math Review; 1st ed.; Thomson Brooks/Cole: San Francisco, 2008; p. 176.
Nine, R. D. ; Clark, N. N. ; Mace, B. E. ; Morrison, R. W. ; Lowe, P. C. ; Remcho, V. T. ; McLaughlin, L. W. Use of soy-derived fuel for environmental impact reduction in marine engine applications. Transactions of the ASAE 2000, 43, 1383 - 1391.
Mace, B. E. ; Nine, R. D. ; Clark, N. N. ; Vanyo, T. J. ; Remcho, V. T. ; Morrison, R. W. ; Mclaughlin, L. W. Emissions from marine engines with water contact in the exhaust stream. Society of Automotive Engineers, [Special Publication] SP 1998, SP-1335, 277 - 286.