Home / News / Presidential Postdoc Fellow to Join Chirik Lab

Presidential Postdoc Fellow to Join Chirik Lab

Announcements- - By Wendy Plump

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that Jose Roque has been awarded a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, one of sixteen such fellowships awarded annually throughout Princeton University in disciplines spanning the sciences and humanities. Roque will join the Chirik Group.

Jose Roque, Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Chirik Group
Presidential Postdoc Research Fellow Jose Roque
Photo by Marge d’Wylde

Roque is completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Chemistry this spring under Richmond Sarpong, who earned his own Ph.D. at Princeton in ‘00 under Martin Semmelhack. An organic chemist who works in natural product total synthesis and reaction development, Roque anticipates initiating his research here in September.

“I was ecstatic to receive the fellowship because it will give me an opportunity to work in Paul’s lab,” said Roque, who visited Princeton for a general thesis presentation last November at the invitation of Paul Chirik, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Chemistry. “I am interested in learning more about Paul’s work in earth-abundant transition metal catalysis. His work has really highlighted the unique reactivity you can achieve with these metals by tuning the ligand and studying the electronic structure.”

Roque’s research at Berkeley involves the development and application of bond-cleavage strategies in organic synthesis, with a particular focus on the cleavage of unstrained carbon-carbon bonds. Roque has also done work focusing on the total synthesis of reverse prenylated indole alkaloids. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Florida International University.

“I am thrilled to have Jose join us as a postdoc,” said Chirik. “His thesis work at Berkeley has been absolutely spectacular and the methods he discovered for C–C bond cleavage give chemists a new way to approach organic molecules. His expertise will perfectly complement our research group. He will bring a synthetic skillset to a laboratory focused on catalysis, methods development, and electronic structure.

“Plus,” Chirik added, “in interacting with Jose on a personal level, I am convinced he will be an energetic and collegial group member and yet another member of our department who will beat me in the Princeton Half Marathon.”

Outside the laboratory, Roque is a running enthusiast. He is presently learning Brazilian jujitsu, as well as “revisiting” Dostoyevsky’s seminal work, Crime and Punishment. “I’ve become a fan,” he said.

This is the second year the University has awarded fellowships under the program, which recognizes and supports scholars who can contribute to a rigorous and diverse intellectual environment. The Department of Chemistry currently has one fellow in place: Makeda Tekle-Smith, who is with the Doyle Lab.