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headshot of Jennifer Hirschi

Jennifer Hirschi

Assistant Professor, Graduate Program Chair



The asymmetric synthesis of organic molecules using chiral catalysts represents an important area in medicinal chemistry. Understanding the chiral space of such a catalyst and how it preferentially stabilizes the transition state environment of an enantioselective process is critical to reaction optimization, catalyst improvement, scale-up efforts and discovery of novel transformations. Theoretical studies involving density functional theory (DFT) methods provide in-silico insight into the geometry of the enantio-determining transition states of these reactions. A majority of such theoretical studies in the literature are reported several years after the initial discovery of the reaction leading to a rather sluggish translation of these technologies from an academic to an industrial setting. There is a critical need for interplay between physical organic studies and synthetic methodology development at the stage of new reaction discovery. My research program develops a concerted, iterative collaboration of these two important areas of organic chemistry to enable rapid maturation of new reaction methodology for applications in practical syntheses.

A second area of research emphasis involves the use of kinetic isotope effects as a probe of enzymatic transition structures. Knowledge of the transition structures of enzymatic reactions provides the electronic blueprint for inhibitor design. In collaboration with mechanistic enzymologists, my group uses DFT methods to develop a transition state model for enzymatic reactions that accurately predicts the experimentally determined kinetic isotope effect measurement.


  • BS, Chemistry, Southern Utah University
  • PhD, Chemistry, Texas A&M University

Research Interests

  • Organic and organometallic mechanisms with application in synthesis
  • Enzymatic mechanisms with application in drug design
  • Computational Chemistry


More Info

Lin, Y., Hirschi, W. J., Kunadia, A., Paul, A., Ghiviriga, I., Abboud, K. A., Karugu, R., Vetticatt, M. J., Hirschi, J. S., & Seidel, D. (2020). A Selenourea-Thiourea Brønsted Acid Catalyst Facilitates Asymmetric Conjugate Additions of Amines to α,β-Unsaturated Esters. Journal of the American Chemical Society. https://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.9b12457

Gardell, S. J.; Hopf, M.; Khan, A.; Dispagna, M.; Sessions, E. H.; Falter, R.; Kapoor, N.; Brooks, J.; Culver, J.; Petucci, C.; Ma, C-T.; Cohen, S. E.; Tanaka, J.; Burgos, E. S.; Hirschi, J. S.; Smith, S. R.; Sergienko, E.; Pinkerton, A. B. Nature Comm. 2019, 10, 3241.

Izzo, J. A.; Myshchuk, Y.; Hirschi, J. S.*; Vetticatt, M. J. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2019, 17, 3934-3939.

Fisher, G.; Thomson,C. M.; Stroek, R.; Czekster, C. M.; Hirschi, J. S.*; da Silva, R. G. Biochemistry. 2018, 57, 4357-4367.

Roytman, V. A.; Karugu, R. W.; Hong, Y.; Hirschi, J. S.*; Vetticatt, M. J. Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24, 8098-8102.

Gheewala, C.D.; Hirschi, J. S.; Lee, W-H.; Paley, D. W.; Vetticatt, M. J.; Lambert, T. H. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 3523-3527.

Gu, H.; Chio, T. I.; Lei, Z.; Staples, R. J.; Hirschi, J. S.; Bane, S. Org. Biomol. Chem. 2017, 15, 7543-7548.

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