Wesley Bernskoetter
243 Chemistry

Research in the Bernskoetter lab focuses on the use of inorganic and organometallic complexes to address challenges relevant to our planet's growing energy concerns. Our initiatives employ techniques from synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry to study highly reactive molecules capable of mediating difficult chemical transformations.


Prof. Bernskoetter received the B.Sc. in Chemisty from Benedictine College, Atchison, KS in 2002 and the Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University in 2006.

Professional Experience: 

Prof. Bernskoetter began his postgraduate research work as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he worked with Prof. Maurice Brookhart where he studied carbon-hydrogen bond activation.  In 2009 he began his academic career at Brown University where he became the Manning Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 2012.  In 2015, he returned to his home state and the University of Missouri. 

Honors and Awards:

2014                Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Chemistry; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York, NY

2014                National Science Foundation Early Career Award; NSF, Arlington, VA

2012                Awarded Manning Assistant Professor of Chemistry chair; Brown University, Providence, RI

2010                Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award; AFOSR, Arlington, VA                      

2009                Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award; Brown University, Providence, RI

2006                Tunis Wentink Thesis of the Year Award; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


(1) Carbon Dioxide Functionalization. As world-wide petrochemical reserves increase in scarcity, chemists must endeavor to find renewable and economical alternatives to fossil fuel carbon sources. Carbon dioxide, a primary by-product of fossil fuel combustion, offers huge potential as a renewable carbon feedstock, yet has been under-utilized industrially due to its high thermodynamic stability. Our laboratory seeks to develop organometallic catalysts which convert CO2 to commercially significant chemicals.

(2) Cobalt Mediated Transformations of Carbon-Carbon Bonds. Transition metal catalyzed reactions which transform carbon-carbon bonds via reductive elimination or oxidative addition are among the most widely applied synthetic techniques in homogenous catalysis. While platinum group metals have been at the forefront of many of these synthetic methods, the scarcity of precious metals may ultimately limit the utilization of their exquisite C-C bond formation and scission chemistry to smaller scale production of high value materials. Developing inexpensive cobalt alternatives will enhance the use of base-metals in bulk scale conversions of petroleum derived chemicals. Our group studies the fundamental mechanisms and influencing factors which govern these transformations and attempt to use that information to design catalyst targets.