In the laboratory with… Carlos Saá Rodríguez, Coordinator of the Organometallic Catalysis Research Group at CIQUS

Today we introduce you to Carlos Saá Rodríguez, Coordinator of the Organometallic Catalysis Research Group.

Name and surname(s): Carlos Saá Rodríguez

Research Group: Coordinator of the Organometallic Catalysis Research Group.

Institution: CIQUS/ University of Santiago de Compostela (USC)

Carlos Saá did his Degree in Chemistry at the USC (1975-1980). At this very university, he did his doctoral thesis under the direction of teachers Luis Castedo, Rafael Suau and José Manuel Saá on the synthesis of isoquinoline alkaloids (1985). He went on a postdoctoral stay (1987-1988) as a “NATO postdoctoral research associate” at Berkeley University, California, and worked in Prof. Dr. K. P. C. Vollhardt’s group on the synthesis of ergot alkaloids by means of cycloadditions [2+2+2] between alkynes and nitriles catalysed by Co(I).

Since 2004, he has been a Professor in the Department of Organic Chemistry at the USC and has also been the Director of this department between 2006 and 2010. Since 2002, he has been the Chair of the Galician Autonomous Section of the Royal Spanish Chemistry Society.

In 2012, he received the Ignacio Ribas Medal from the Specialised Organic Chemistry Group of the Royal Spanish Chemistry Society. His scientific production is reflected in more than 70 publications, the 20 conferences he was invited to and by the Doctoral Theses he has directed.

1.    Who is the most important scientist of the twentieth century for you? Why?

It is certainly very difficult deciding on only one scientist from a century where the work done in collaboration with a large number of researchers allowed major technological advances to be made, which proved decisive in fields like health, transport and communication. Einstein for formulating the Theory of Relativity would perhaps be my first choice given his revolutionary vision of the universe.

2. Which discovery changed the world? Why?

I hold all the advances/discoveries made relating to people’s health (disease control, life expectancy, quality of life, etc.) in high regard: from the discovery of penicillin by Fleming (and antibiotics in general) to the double-strand structure of DNA by Watson and Crick.

3. Why did you decide to be a researcher?

My older brother’s influence, who was an Organic Chemistry teacher at the USC while I was a student, was most decisive in unleashing my passion for scientific research.

4. What is your most important research line? What results do you expect to obtain and what impact may they have on society?

My most relevant research line centres on the study of organometallic catalysis and its applications in the selective functionalisation of organic molecules.

Owing to increasing demand of organic synthesis products (drugs, new organic materials, etc.), developing highly efficient and selective synthetic methods is one of the most urgent tasks for chemists today. Increasingly more importance is being placed on atomic economy; that is, using raw materials more selectively and efficiently by minimising not only subproducts, but also, therefore, the waste from production processes.

In line with this, the formation of carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bond formations catalysed by complexes of transition metals has emerged as an important organic synthesis step.

5. In what way do you think that the Campus Vida surroundings favour your research?

Contact on a daily basis with scientists from different knowledge areas helps bring down the barriers among them, which is a most important aspect when facing highly relevant scientific challenges.

Besides it offers greater visibility which helps bring researchers closer to society and the business world.


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