Joshua attended Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, VA. He is pursuing a B.Sc. in Chemistry with a Specialization in Biochemistry with ACS certification.
His research is in the lab of Dr. Lin Pu where he worked on a project with graduate student Shifeng Nian synthesizing a bimetallic catalyst to control the tacticity in atomic transfer radical polymerizations (ATRP) of functional alpha-olefins (e.g. acrylamide) by synthesizing a salen-derived macrocyclic ligand to coordinate a Lewis acidic metal and copper. Previous research showed that addition of a Lewis acid to Cu-mediated ATRP was promising for producing steroregular polymers. We confined the Lewis acidic center and the copper center in close proximity on a macrocyclic ligand to couple their roles in the polymerization and enhance the catalytic efficiency. Our work has provided evidence that these bimetallic catalyst systems incorporate a cooperative effect utilizing the Lewis acidic monomer activation with the copper-chlorine radical generation and stabilization process in order to provide stereocontrol and catalysis to the ATRP processes. Following the introduction of chirality into the catalyst system, the reaction of the Lewis acid coordinated monomer with the adjacent transient free radical, generated from the copper-chlorine abstraction at the polymer end, proceeds with significant stereocontrol to give the desired isotactic polymers. We are still working to optimize the degree of monomer conversion and stereocontrol.
In addition to research, Joshua has been a teaching assistant for CHEM 3410 and CHEM 3420 (physical chemistry, thermodynamics and quantum chemistry) under Dr. Dave Metcalf. Though still undecided on his particular focus, he will study organic, organometallics, or polymer chemistry in graduate school.