Chemistry Canada Research Chair

Department of Chemistry

Chemistry Canada Research Chair

Tomas Hudlicky, Tier 1, Organic synthesis and biocatalysis

Tomas joined our department from the University of Florida, Gainesville. His research involves converting aromatic compounds, often considered industrial wastes, into valuable pharmaceutical compounds. This work leads to the manufacture of compounds needed by society, specifically related to analgesic, anesthetic and anti-tumor products — in an environmentally benign way. A Greener Way of Doing Things

No one questions the benefits of most pharmaceutical products. But what about the harmful industrial waste that is created during their manufacturing process? At present, in long synthetic preparations, 100,000 times more weight is generated in undesirable by-products than in the final target. This pharmaceutical waste is costly both for the manufacturer and the environment. We need to find a better way of doing things.

Canada Research Chair Dr. Tomas Hudlicky is tackling the environmental problems associated with pharmaceutical synthesis through the application of “green chemistry.” Green chemistry is based on the belief that chemistry does not need to be at odds with the environment, that it can in fact benefit the environment. It relies on the current efforts being made by scientists to advance the frontiers of chemical synthesis so that the processes have positive environmental effects.

A “green” scientist, Dr. Hudlicky converts pharmaceutical waste into a variety of desirable pharmaceutical compounds. His research is responsible for giving the harmful waste of the past a new life as analgesic, aesthetic and anti-tumour products, specifically compounds used in the treatment of cancer, bio-infection and diabetes.

Melanie Pilkington, Tier 2, Synthetic and structural inorganic chemistry

Melanie joined our department from Switzerland. Her research involves the preparation, characterization, and study of new electronic, optical, and/or magnetic materials based on two classes of molecules with already established physical properties. This work will advance the development of new chemical, electronic, and magnetic devices, creating novel hybrid molecule-based materials for the 21st Century

As we approach the physical limits of conventional silicon-based electronics, there is a need for entirely new types of materials that can be used to create even smaller devices. Materials created via molecular electronics are strong candidates. Molecular electronics uses assemblies of individual molecules to mimic larger, conventional structures such as switches and semiconductors.

To gain the necessary control over the composition, size, and function of these molecules, chemists have turned to the realm of supramolecular chemistry. Supramolecular chemistry uses molecular precursors that are held together by reversible intermolecular forces such as hydrogen bonding and metal-to-ligand interactions. Examples of molecular materials prepared with this approach include molecular metals, semiconductors, superconductors, and magnets.

Canada Research Chair Dr. Melanie Pilkington is one of the aforementioned chemists; she carries out research in synthetic and structural inorganic chemistry with a focus on the problems that occur at the interface of supramolecular and materials chemistry. She designs and synthesizes versatile molecular building blocks as precursors for the self-assembly of molecule-based electronic, optical, and/or magnetic materials, e.g., organic conductors and magnetic clusters. Her current work focuses on the combination of metal centres with two classes of organic molecules, namely organo-sulfur compounds (tetrathiafulvalenes) and large macrocycles (phthalocyanines). She is able to exploit the flexibility and versatility of the organic molecules while making the most of the magnetic, electrical, and optical properties of the metal.

A major challenge of materials chemistry is to find molecule-based materials that combine properties not normally associated with a single material, e.g., coupling conductivity with magnetism. For this reason, one of Dr. Pilkington's long-term goals is the design and study of organic conductors that contain localized magnetic moments. The synthesis of conducting molecular magnets in which there is an interaction between the electronic and magnetic properties could eventually lead to the development of new electronic devices that operate on the nanoscale.

For additional information on the Canada Research Chairs program, please visit

Maple Leaf
Canada Research Chair

The Chemistry department at Brock University is delighted to have been awarded two Canada Research Chairs in 2003 and in 2004, renewed in 2009. According to the mission of the program, "The key objective of the Canada Research Chairs program is to enable Canadian universities, together with their affiliated research institutes and hospitals, to achieve the highest levels of research excellence, to become world-class research centres in the global, knowledge-based economy." Furthermore, the program encourages appointments from outside of Canada to ensure diversity of ideas and providing opportunity for foreign nationals to contribute to Canadian society. Each of our Chairs meet the covenants of the program; they are individuals at the highest level of research excellence in chemistry.

Dept. of Chemistry
Brock University
500 Glenridge Ave.
St. Catharines, ON
Canada, L2S 3A1
Tel: (905) 688-5550 x3406

Administrative Assistant:
Marie Harris

Razvan Simionescu