A Day in the Lab is a Q&A series that gives readers a glimpse into the lives of Princeton researchers across the chemistry department. This installment features Jamie Neely, a second year postdoctoral fellow in the Chirik lab. She obtained her PhD in 2014 from Colorado State University where she worked with Professor Tomislav Rovis.
1) What she’s working on:
I am working toward developing catalytic cross coupling methods using Earth–abundant transition metals like iron and cobalt.
2) Typical daily routine:
I usually come in around 8:15, check my email, set things up for the day, and take care of any reactions or crystallizations from the night before. The middle of my day varies a lot, but I typically run shorter reactions in the morning or early afternoon, read the literature after lunch, and go to either seminar or yoga in the late afternoon. I set up overnight things after dinner and plan out what I need to do the next day before heading home.
3) Most effective organizational tool:
A PDF manager and a planner with lots of room to write.
4) Most productive time of the day:
Early mornings when I have things to myself.
5) Strategy for keeping up with the literature:
What works best for me is to set aside time to read the literature every day, on purpose, even if it’s not for very long. Leaving it for ‘downtime’ usually ends up with no reading that day.
6) Most essential scientific instrument:
7) Where/what you turn to for inspiration or ideas:
If I’m trying to come up with new ideas or a solution to a problem, I head down the hall to our group room, a.k.a. ‘quiet car’, to think it over.
8) Favorite way to spend a break:
Hot yoga. I’m also a big fan of playing games that I’m terrible at and movie nights.
9) Most interesting research right now (outside of your lab):
I think the research done in the Radosevich lab at Penn State using phosphines as biphilic catalysts is truly innovative. Their work shows that phosphorous can accommodate the same type of redox events that are usually associated with transition metal catalysts, and so has the potential to open up new frontiers in chemistry.
10) Favorite element/compound:
Fluorine – adding it to an organic molecule can change everything!