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Chemistry Conference Around the Block

UC Riverside to Host International Conference on Chemistry of a Neglected Group of Chemical Elements

Four-day conference expected to greatly advance the field of “heteroatom chemistry”

(August 1, 2007)

s and p block elements.

s and p block elements.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The periodic table, which groups chemical elements according to their reactivity, has a set of elements around carbon — the “s and p block” — that historically has received infrequent interest from chemists.

A conference, organized by chemists at the University of California, Riverside, now plans to change that.

During Aug. 13-16, an international cast of chemists will discuss s and p block chemistry, also known as heteroatom chemistry, at the Eighth International Conference on Heteroatom Chemistry. The conference will be held at the Marriott Riverside, 3400 Market Street, Riverside, Calif.

“UC Riverside is distinguished in s and p block chemistry and a world leader in this field,” said Christopher Reed, a distinguished professor of chemistry at UCR and the director of the Center for S & P Block Chemistry. “The conference we’ve put together will showcase the latest chemical research in heteroatom chemistry, much of which is germane to advances in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The conference, which will have both oral and poster sessions, already has attracted 150 participants. According to Reed, participants will have the opportunity to network, collaborate and generate new ideas in heteroatom chemistry. “We expect several of our speakers to announce unpublished results, which should stimulate exciting discussions and advance the field,” he said.

Plenary speakers at the conference are Nobel laureate Robert Grubbs, California Institute of Technology; Warren Piers, University of Calgary, Canada; Thomas Klapoetke, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany; Akira Sekiguchi, University of Tsukuba, Japan; John Hartwig, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ill.; José Barluenga, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain; and Larry Sneddon, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

The periodic table of the elements, developed in the late 19th century by Dimitri Mendeleev, consists of rows and columns. It is an arrangement of elements — the fundamental materials of which all matter is composed — such that chemically similar elements are grouped in each column.

An atom — the smallest unit of an element — has its electrons arranged in shells around its nucleus. How the electrons of an element’s atom are arranged in these shells determines the position of an element in the periodic table. The “s” and “p” in the name “s and p block chemistry” refer to specific shells (or orbitals) of the atom.

“The elements of the s and p block of the periodic table are all around us,” Reed said. “Silicon is a component of a host of polymers, coatings and lubricants — particularly silicones. Phosphorus takes a central role in biological and agricultural chemistry, and is a key element in many drugs. Polymers containing phosphorus have properties that cannot be obtained in traditional carbon-based plastics, and may have applications in the electronics industry once chemists develop simple, high-yield ways to make them.”

Registration for the conference costs $350 per person. There is no charge for either members of the media or UCR students interested in attending all or part of the conference. The conference will kick off with a poolside reception and dinner at the Marriott Riverside at 7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 12.

For more information on the conference, including its agenda, click here.

UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, the Office of Research, the Center for S & P Block Chemistry and the Department of Chemistry are funding the conference. Merck Research Laboratories and the American Chemical Society, through the Petroleum Research Fund, have also provided funding.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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