Professor Burns’ passion for chemistry is rooted in “a genuine curiosity, an excitement of finding new chemistry, a new way to make a molecule, to control a reaction.” He explains that when “I took organic chemistry and it was a real life-determining experience. Organic chemistry just sort of clicked for me. It made sense.”
Professor Burns studied chemistry at Columbia University (B.A. 2004 summa cum laude), under the mentorship of Professor James Leighton. His doctoral work with Professor Phil Baran at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California (Ph.D. 2009) addressed the synthesis of haouamine A, a marine alkaloid. He then developed a catalytic enantioselective [5+2] cycloaddition as an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Professor Eric Jacobsen at Harvard University.
The Burns Lab focuses major efforts on the selective halogenation of organic molecules. Dihalogenation and halofunctionalization encompass some of the most fundamental transformations in our field, yet methods capable of accessing relevant halogenated motifs in a chemo-, regio-, and enantioselective fashion are lacking. Breakthroughs in this area could enable the controlled evaluation of the therapeutic potential of numerous chiral organohalogens.
Professor Burns joined the Stanford Chemistry Department faculty in 2012 and has been awarded a Terman Faculty Fellowship, the Dean's Award for First Years of Teaching and the Amgen Young Investigator Award.
Professor Karunadasa emphasizes the importance of materials in defining human civilizations. She says “It is very exciting to think, what materials will define our future? We dug iron out from the earth, but the materials that we need to save our planet are probably going to be things that we have to make. Are we ready to make these materials?”
Professor Karunadasa studied chemistry and materials science at Princeton University (A.B. with high honors 2003; Certificate in Materials Science and Engineering 2003), where her undergraduate thesis with Professor Robert J. Cava examined geometric magnetic frustration in metal oxides. She moved from solid-state chemistry to solution-state chemistry for her doctoral studies in inorganic chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. 2009) with Professor Jeffrey R. Long. Her thesis focused on heavy atom building units for magnetic molecules and molecular catalysts for generating hydrogen from water. She continued to study molecular electrocatalysts for water splitting during postdoctoral research with Berkeley Professors Christopher J. Chang and Jeffrey R. Long at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. She further explored molecular catalysts for hydrocarbon oxidation as a postdoc at the California Institute of Technology with Professor Harry B. Gray.
The Karunadasa Group approaches solid-state materials using the tools of synthetic molecular chemistry and designs hybrid materials featuring properties of both molecules and extended solids. They target materials for applications in clean energy such as sorbents for environmental pollutants, electrodes for secondary batteries, phosphors for solid-state lighting, and absorbers for photovoltaics.
Professor Karunadasa joined the Stanford Chemistry Department faculty in 2012 and has been awarded a Thieme Chemistry Journal Award, the ICCC41 Rising Star Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a Terman Faculty Fellowship and most recently the ACS Harry Gray Award for Creative Work in Inorganic Chemistry by a Young Investigator.