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Folami Ladipo

Research Interests:

Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, 1991


Our research interests bridge the traditional disciplines of organic and inorganic chemistry.  Catalysis and transition metal-mediated organic synthesis constitute the principal themes of our research program.  We are developing the synthesis and reactivity of early and late transition metal complexes that are of interest for applications in organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, modeling of catalytic reactions, and as catalyst precursors.  The development of environmentally benign chemical processes is another key objective of our research.  Current projects include:

Environmentally Benign Catalysts for Conversion of Cellulose into 5-Hydroxymethylfuran

Furan derivatives, such as furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfuran (5-HMF), can be obtained from renewable carbohydrate biomass, and are highly attractive as sustainable chemical platforms for the production of fuels and chemical intermediates.  In particular, 5-HMF could play a key role in the establishment of a biomass-based chemical platform since it can readily be converted into a variety of useful acids, aldehydes, alcohols, and amines, as well as the promising liquid fuel 2,5-dimethylfuran (2,5-DMF).  We are exploring the development of environmentally benign catalytic processes for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into 5-HMF.

Ruthenium-Based Hydrogenation and Hydrogenolysis Catalysts

Promising carbohydrate biomass-derived carbon resources, such as sugars, furan derivatives, and polyalcohols, are generally characterized by an abundance of reactive oxygen functional groups. Hence efficient technologies need to be developed for selectively deoxygenating molecules derived from biomass resources so that they can be integrated into the existing energy and petrochemical production streams. We are developing the synthetic potential of electrophilic Ru(II) complexes and exploring strategies for the development of efficient catalysts for selective hydrogenation and deoxygenation (via hydrogenolysis) of furan derivatives. Currently, we are developing ruthenium catalysts, which act by well-understood mechanism(s) and display both high activity and product selectivity, for the selective deoxygenation of furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfuran to 2-methylfuran and 2,5-dimethylfuran, respectively. 

Heterogeneous Olefin Epoxidation Catalysts from Tripodal Titanium Silsesquioxane Complexes (collaboration with Dr. Mark Crocker, University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research)

Tripodal Ti silsesquioxane complexes appear to be among the most active and selective of all known catalysts for epoxidation reactions using alkyl hydroperoxides.  We are probing whether the advantageous catalytic properties of homogeneous Ti silsequioxane catalysts can be retained upon immobilization, particularly with regard to the epoxidation of demanding substrates, such as alkenes that are electronically and/or sterically “deactivated” with respect to epoxidation, such as allylic alcohols and alpha, beta-unsaturated carbonyl compounds.  We are investigating the development of heterogeneous titanium silsesquioxane-based catalysts suitable for alkene epoxidation reactions using H2O2 or H2/O2 gas mixture as the oxidant.


We are grateful to all of our collaborators for their insight and contributions. We are also grateful to the Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation (KSEF) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for support of our research program.


Graduate Training

Organometallic Chemistry

Selected Publications:

Ladipo, F. T., Merola, J. S. "Addition of N-H Bonds to Iridium: Synthesis and Characterization of N-Ir-H Complexes and the Observation that an Iridium N-Bonded Indole Rings Becomes Activated for Michael Addition to Alkynes," Polyhedron 201590, 131-138.

Merola, J. S., Ladipo, F. T. "Alklyne Reacdtions with Trimethylphosphine Complexes of Iridium: Lessons for the Catalysis of Vinyl Ester Formation and Alkyne Dimerization," Polyhedron201470, 125-132.

Gowda, A. S., Parkin, S., Ladipo, F. T. “Hydrogenation and Hydrogenolysis of Furfural and Furfuryl Alcohol Catalyzed by Ruthenium(II) bis(diimine) Complexes,” Appl. Organometal. Chem. 2012, 26, 86-93.  

Aish, E.; Crocker, M.; Ladipo, F. T. “Tripodal Titanium Silsesquioxane Complexes Immobilized in Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) Membrane: Selective Catalysts for Epoxidation of Cyclohexene and 1-Octene with Aqueous Hydrogen Peroxide,” J. Catal. 2010, 273, 66-72.

Eaves, R.; Parkin, S.; Ladipo, F. T. “High-Temperature Single-Site Ethylene Polymerization Behavior of Titanate Complexes Supported by 1,3-Bis(3,5-dialkylpyrazol-1-yl)propan-2-olate Ligation,” Inorg. Chem. 2007, 46. 9495-9502.

Zazybin, A.; Parkin, S.; Ladipo, F. T. “Synthesis, Characterization, and Ethylene Polymerization Behavior of [(RR'-admpzp)2Ti(OPri)2] Complexes (RR’-admpzp = 1-Dialkylamino-3-(3,5-dimethyl-pyrazol-1-yl)-propan-2-olate),” J. Organomet. Chem. 2007, 692, 5375-5382. 

Ladipo, F. T. “Synthesis and Organometallic Reactivity of Well-Characterized Low-Valent Titanium Species,” Comm. Inorg. Chem. 2006, 27, 73-102.

Ladipo, F. T. "Low-Valent Titanium-Mediated Reductive Coupling of Carbonyl Compounds," Cur. Org. Chem., 2006, 10, 965-980.


The group currently consists of an excellent 4th year graduate student Daudi Saangonyo.

 A very important objective of our education and research programs is to increase the general public's scientific literacy as well as student interest in science and engineering education at the high school and undergraduate levels. As a part of our effort to reach larger numbers of high school students, we have developed an interactive presentation (Application of the scientific method, below) which outlines what the scientific method is and explores how it can be applied towards developing solutions to real-life research problems. Specifically, we have focused on our research (in collaboration with Dr. Mark Crocker, University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, CAER) aimed at the development of heterogeneous olefin epoxidation catalysts from tripodal titanium silsesquioxane complexes. 


We invite you to visit our webpage regularly to learn more about the scientific method, follow our research progress, and send us comments ( or that hopefully would aid us in more effectively presenting the information at a level accessible to nonscientists. We will also welcome opportunities to meet with groups of students and teachers to discuss the nature of our scientific inquiries, inform students about research opportunities available within groups in our chemistry department and at CAER. Furthermore, we will provide information about potential careers in chemistry and engineering. Hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks are expressed to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for support of our outreach program.