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Organic chemists now forming global bonds

Chemistry labs in the NSF Center for Selective C-H Functionalization are boosting their power by collaborating instead of competing. Photo by Carol Clark.

Atsushi Yamaguchi, a graduate student of chemistry from Nagoya University in Japan, is spending most of the fall semester as an exchange student, working in the Huw Davies lab at Emory.

“In Nagoya, you only see buildings,” he says. “In Atlanta, I can see lots of trees and squirrels.”

But the best part of the exchange experience, Yamaguchi adds, is the insider’s view he’s getting of top organic chemistry labs throughout the United States that are part of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Selective C-H Functionalization (CCHF).

“Before I came here, I only talked about chemistry with my other lab members, who have my same specialty,” Yamaguchi says.

Now, he’s learning new techniques of hands-on chemistry at Emory, while also joining in regular video conferences with chemists from the 14 top U.S. research universities involved in the CCHF. “When I return to Japan, I’m going to be bringing back a lot of new ideas,” Yamaguchi says.

The CCHF, headquartered at Emory, is pioneering a whole new way for organic chemists to teach and do research. A National Center for Chemical Innovation, the CCHF is funded through a $20 million NSF grant.

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