Karen I. Goldberg

Karen I. Goldberg, PhD. Professor and Nicole A. Boand Endowed Chair in Chemistry

Director, Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis
Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, 1988

(Organometallic and Inorganic Chemistry)

(206) 616-2973

Email: goldberg@chem.washington.edu

Goldberg group website

Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis website

Research Interests

One of the most important applications of organometallic chemistry has been the use of organotransition metal catalysts in the commercial production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and organic materials. The reaction steps in the catalytic cycles are typically general, or so called fundamental reactions in organometallic chemistry, such as oxidative addition, reductive elimination, migratory insertion and beta-hydride elimination. Understanding the mechanisms of these basic reaction steps is key to the improvement of current catalysts and to the design of new catalytic systems. The Goldberg group focuses on developing detailed mechanistic understanding of these fundamental reactions with the goal of creating catalysts for desirable and challenging transformations.


As an example, in one particular project in the group, the reaction steps that could be involved in the selective oxidation of alkanes to alcohols are being studied. Shown below is an idealized catalytic cycle for converting methane to methanol – oxidative addition of the C-H bond forms a metal alkyl hydride, insertion of oxygen into the metal hydride bond forms a metal alkyl hydroxide species, and finally C-O reductive elimination forms the alcohol product and regenerates the catalyst. Understanding how each step proceeds, what type of MLn fragment (geometry and ligand set) is needed, and what type of solvent system will promote that reaction step provides insight and direction to efforts to rationally design catalysts that will carry out such transformations. Some other transformations for which we are trying to develop catalysts are anti-Markovnikov hydration and hydroamination of olefins, oxidation of olefins with molecular oxygen and the release of hydrogen from amine boranes and other viable hydrogen storage materials.


Methane to Methanol


Ph.D. students working on projects in the Goldberg group are trained in synthesis, characterization, and mechanistic analysis using a variety of experimental, spectroscopic and analytical methods. These include the manipulation of air-sensitive compounds by Schlenk and vacuum line techniques, high field multinuclear NMR, IR, and UV-visible spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and X-ray crystallography.



Karen Goldberg received her A.B. degree from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City. As an undergraduate, she pursued research projects with Professor Roald Hoffmann at Cornell University, Professor Stephen Lippard at Columbia University, and Drs. Tom Graedel and Steven Bertz at AT&T Laboratories. She then went on to the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry working with Professor Robert Bergman. Following a postdoctoral year with Professor Bruce Bursten at The Ohio State University, she joined the faculty at Illinois State University, a primarily undergraduate institution in Normal, IL, in 1989. In 1995, she moved to the University of Washington as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. She was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 2000, and in 2003 she was promoted to Professor. In 2007 she became the first Raymon E. and Rosellen M. Lawton Distinguished Scholar in Chemistry, and in 2010 she became the first Nicole A. Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry. She currently serves as Director of the first National Science Foundation-funded Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI), the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC), a collaborative effort between 17 principal investigators and their students at 13 institutions across North America. She is also on the Advisory Boards of the ACS journals Accounts of Chemical Research and Organometallics.


Representative Publications

Denney, Melanie C.; Pons, Vincent; Hebden, Travis J.; Heinekey, D. Michael, Goldberg, Karen, I.  “Efficient Catalysis of Ammonia Borane Dehydrogenation” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128, 12048-12049.


Kloek, Susan M.; Goldberg, Karen. I. “Competitive C-H Bond Activation and β-Hydride Elimination at Platinum(II)”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2007, 129, 3460-3461.


Kloek, Susan M.; Heinekey, D. Michael; Goldberg, Karen I. “C-H Bond Activation by Rhodium(I)Hydroxide and Phenoxide Complexes”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed2007, 46, 4736-4738.


Pawlikowski, Andrew V.; Getty, April D. Goldberg, Karen I. “Alkyl Carbon-Nitrogen Reductive Elimination from Pt(IV) Sulfonamide Complexes”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2007, 129, 10382-10393.


Luedtke, Avery; Goldberg, Karen I. “Reductive Elimination of Ethane from Five-coordinate Pt(IV) Alkyl Complexes”,  Inorg. Chem. 2007, 46, 8696-8698.


More Publications ...

Awards & Activities

  • Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017)
  • Award for Organometallic Chemistry, American Chemical Society (2015)
  • Carol Tyler Award, International Precious Metals Institute (2015)
  • Director of the Center for Enabling New Technologies Through Catalysis (CENTC), a Phase II NSF Chemical Bonding Center (2007-present)
  • AWIS NY Metro Outstanding Woman Scientist (2006)
  • NSF Special Creativity Extension (2005-06)


More Awards and Activities

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