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A Day in the Lab with Jeffrey Lipshultz

Profiles- - By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry

A Day in the Lab is a new Q&A series that gives readers a glimpse into the lives of Princeton researchers across the chemistry department. The first installment features Jeffrey Lipshultz, a third year graduate student in the MacMillan lab and the creative force behind the very successful @MacMillan_Lab twitter account. He graduated with an A.B. in Chemistry in 2013 from Harvard University, where he conducted undergraduate research with Professor Andrew Myers. 

Jeffrey Lipshultz

1) What he’s working on:

I’m currently working on a total synthesis of a family of complex natural products. We are using one of our previously developed methodologies in the key step to vastly simplify previous routes and access some natural products that have never been made before.

2) Typical daily routine:

I usually get into lab between 9:15 and 9:30, and unless I have a time point or desperately need to get a reaction set up that early, I usually read through the literature for about a half hour, then do bench work until lunchtime. I usually go to the gym during lunch, recently to play squash with other people from lab. The afternoon is more of the same- bench work, columns, subgroups if we have them. Some of us will do an afternoon tea time most days. I usually go home for dinner between 6-8, then wrap some stuff up until around 11.

3) Most effective organizational tool:

Post it notes. I make to do lists, write down reaction conditions/values, and just doodle ideas all over my desk on post it notes.

4) Most productive time of the day:

After dinner, 8-12. I’ve always been a night person, and I get lab work done much quicker later in the day than early in the day.

5) Strategy for keeping up with the literature:

I have an RSS reader with subscriptions to all the chemistry journals, as well as a few chemistry blogs.

6) Most essential scientific instrument:

Glovebox. I do some air sensitive chemistry, so I’m in there basically every day.

7) Favorite way to spend a break:

Watching/going to Giants or Devils games. It’s definitely a bonus to being right by my favorite sports teams. If it’s just a short break in lab, probably playing squash or having tea time with labmates.

8) Most interesting research right now (outside of your lab):

Prof. Fujita from the University Tokyo just came to give a seminar a couple weeks ago. As someone working on a complex natural product, in which structure determination is often pretty difficult, I’d like to envision a future when we’d just have to soak a solution of our intermediates in a crystalline sponge to get a crystal structure. Hopefully soon!

9) Favorite element/compound: 

Iridium – it literally comes from meteorites.