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Contact Info
Office: CHM 0300
Phone: 301-405-5753
Lawrence R. Sita


  • B.S. (Honors), Chemistry, 1981, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA B.S.(honors) June 1981
  • Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, 1985, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (w. Satoru Masamune).
  • Postdoctoral, 1985-1986, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (w. Richard R. Schrock).

 Professional Experience

  • Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, 2002-present
  • Associate Dean for Faculty, Research and Diversity, College of Chemical and Life Sciences, University of Maryland, 2005-2006
  • Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, 1999-2002
  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1994-1998
  • Senior Research Fellow, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, 1990-1994
  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 1987-1990

Research Interests

Transition and Main Group Metal Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry, New Synthetic Methodology, Catalyst Development, Polymers, Chemically-Tailored Surfaces and Interfaces, Molecular and Mesoscopic Self-Assembly, New Nanofabrication Processes

Major Recognitions and Honors

  • Beckman Young Investigator (1995–1998)
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar (1995-2000)
  • Visiting Scholar, Institute of Molecular Science, Japan, 1996
  • College of Chemical and Life Sciences, University of Maryland, Faculty Research Award, 2003
  • NSF Special Creativity Award (2004–2006)

Representative Publications

Wei, J.; Hwang, W.; Zhang, W.; Sita, L. R. “Dinuclear Bis-Propagators for the Stereoselective Living Coordinative Chain Transfer Polymerization of Propene,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 2132-2135.

Keane, A. J.; Yonke, B. L; Hirotsu, M.; Zavalij, P. Y.; Sita, L. R. “Fine-tuning the Energy Barrier for Metal-Mediated Dinitrogen N≡N Bond Cleavage,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 9906-9909.

Crawford, K. E.; Sita, L. R. “De Novo Design of a New Class of “Hard-Soft” Amorphous Microphase-Separated, Polyolefin Block Copolymer Thermoplastic Elastomers,” ACS Macro Letters2015 4, 921-925.

Keane, A. J.; Farrell, W. S.; Zavalij, P. Y.; Sita, L. R. “Metal-mediated production of isocyanates, R3EN=C=O from dinitrogen, carbon dioxide, and R3ECl,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 10220-10224.

Farrell, W. S.; Zavalij, P. Y.; Sita, L. R. “Metal-Catalyzed Production of Carbonyl Sulfide from Carbon Monoxide and Elemental Sulfur,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 4269-4273.

Duman, L. M.; Farrell, W. S.; Zavalij, P. Y.; Sita, L. R. “Steric Switching from Photochemical to Thermal Reaction Pathways for Enhanced Efficiency in Metal-Mediated Nitrogen Fixation,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 14856-14859.

Thomas, T. S.; Hwang, W.; Sita, L. R. “End-Group-Functionalized Poly(α-olefinates) as Non-Polar Building Blocks: Self-Assembly of Sugar-Polyolefin Hybrid Conjugates,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 4683-4687.

Applied Catalyst Science and Technology

Dinitrogen fixation diagram
Fig. 1. Dinitrogen fixation to produce high value isocyanate from N2, CO2 and Me3SiCl under mild thermal conditions.

New scientific and technological breakthroughs in the development of more energy-efficient and environmentally-benign industrial processes must be made today in order to meet the enormous demands of a rapidly growing world population that is expected to reach 10 billion people in just less than 35 years. Research being conducted by the Sita Group is focused on the discovery, development, and implementation of a new generation of molecular catalysts and atom-economical catalytic transformations that can produce the commodity chemicals and advanced materials that civilization critically depends upon – while reducing environmental impact and human health concerns. The underlying mission of our research program is to not only contribute to the establishment and validation of new scientific paradigms and principles, but also, we seek to translate our discoveries into new materials and technologies that can potentially have near-term beneficial impacts on society. More specifically, our research involves elucidation of the fundamental principles that govern the structure and bonding of transition-metal inorganic and organometallic complexes. We then apply this knowledge to the design and validation of new classes of molecularly-discrete and highly efficient catalysts that can provide direct access to commodity chemicals and advanced materials from readily-available and inexpensive industrial feedstocks.

Finally, our efforts involve a material science and engineering approach to the development of new classes of polymeric materials that can serve as the platform for advanced technologies. Given these objectives, research training of group members involves an exciting mix of state-of-the-art experimental techniques, including the synthesis and handling of air-sensitive compounds and homogenous solution catalysis under reactive gas conditions, and a plethora of analytical and characterization tools, including high field NMR (on 400, 500 and 600, 800 MHz spectrometers), DSC, TGA, GPC, AFM, TEM, SEM, DSL, X-ray (single crystal), WAXS, SAXS, and GISAXS.

Current Research Projects

Nanostructured ultra-thin films
Fig. 2. Sub-10 nm nanostructured ultra-thin films from sugar-polyolefin conjugates.