I was able to attend only the afternoon sessions of the AI Meyers Symposium, sponsored by the Chemistry Department at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Peter Beak from the University of Illinois spoke about organolithium chemistry related to CIPE- Complex Induced Prioximity Effect. Along the way, Beak made a few comments about the state of the science of chemistry in America in terms of the lack of a unified voice. He pointed out that the astronomers seem to be quite successful in geting major projects funded because they band together and make a unified case for funding. Beak observed that during difficult times, chemists tend to “circle the wagons and shoot inwards”.

Beak made another point about the perpetually weak state of physical organic chemistry. He suggests that the norbornyl cation controversy between H.C. Brown and Saul Winstein in the 1960’s had a deleterious effect on the field. I have heard this argument elsewhere. I can only assume that Beak means that funding for physical organic research dried up.

Victor Sniekus, Alfred Bader Professor of Chemistry at Queens University, spoke about his work with orthometallation in various projects. Daniel Comins, a Meyers post-doc, talked about alkaloid synthesis.  Much of the work from the Meyers labs was related to directed metallation or pre-coordination of R-Li with a substrate to accomplish some kind of selectivity. It was AIM’s habit to prove the merit of a transformation with an application to some kind of natural product synthesis- usually an alkaloid. I spent a year and a half struggling unsuccessfully with tylophorine and crypotpleurine.

The afternoon was rounded off with talk by Paul Reider, formerly a VP of Process Research at Merck and now teaching at Princeton University. Reider spoke in his typical entertaining manner.  What stands out above the technical details is a statement he made in regard to getting buy in for a process. He was trying to get somebody to try a reaction series-“I said it with such sincerity, they went ahead and did it! ” This is funny because you don’t get the idea that Reider or any of his colleagues are easily swayed by sincerity.

There was a fair turnout of Meyers alumni, post-docs and grad students as well as folks from other groups in the department.