Olaf G. Wiest

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Office: (574)631-5876 FAX: (574)631-6652
E-Mail: owiest@nd.edu

Biographical Notes

Professor Wiest obtained his Diploma (M.S.) in 1991 and his Dr. rer. nat (Ph.D.) in 1993 from the University of Bonn in Germany for his work on synthetic and mechanistic studies of radical cation Diels-Alder-Reactions. He then spend two years as a Feodor Lynen Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at UCLA working on the application of ab initio quantum mechanical methods to the mechanism of pericyclic and enzymatic reactions. He joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1995 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001 and Full Professor in 2005. He was awarded both a NSF CAREER Award and an NIH FIRST Award. He was named one of sixteen 2001 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars in the nation. In 2004, he received a Kaneb Teaching Award from the University of Notre Dame.

Research Topics

Physical and Theoretical Organic Chemistry, Electron Transfer Induced Processes, Computer Aided Molecular Design 

The transfer of an electron from or to an substrate is one of the most simple processes in organic chemistry, yet it induces profound changes in the properties and reactivity of that molecule. Therefore, reactions which are not possible with the neutral molecules can be accomplished with a very high efficiency. After a back electron transfer, the neutral product molecule is obtained. This approach of electron transfer catalysis can be used to catalyze various synthetically and biochemically important reactions such as the electron transfer catalyzed [2+2]-cycloreversion of the thymine dimer, which is formed by UV-irradiation of DNA. This reaction is an essential part of the DNA repair mechanism in many organisms. Prof. Wiest uses a close connection of computational chemistry and experimental methods to elucidate the mechanisms and transition structures. Currently, three types of electron transfer catalyzed reaction are under study:
Mechanism and Models of DNA Photolyase
Structure and Mechanism of Hydrocarbon Radical Ions
Drug Design


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