Dr. Kathleen Victoria Kilway

Department Chair and Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Kathleen V. Kilway



Current Research Interests

Our current research is broken into three major topics: (a) host-guest chemistry (b) selective synthesis of nanotubes and (c) hydrogen bonding. One of our research interests is the synthesis and physical studies of novel macrocyclic host-guest systems. Design of tailor-made hosts for the selective binding of guests (i.e. anions, cations, and neutral molecules) is essential for understanding bonding and general processes in chemistry. The two types of hosts that we will center our efforts on are the azacalixarenes and carcerands. Both compounds are of interest because they each have lone pair electrons and the possibility of forming charged species. In both of those cases, the hosts would be able to bind a wide variety of guests. We have already synthesized several benzoethers. These compounds will be used in preliminary host-guest binding studies using NMR spectroscopy and also as building blocks for more complex host systems. Once the initial host-guest work is finished, this system will be adapted to investigate electron transfer between two metal centers in presence and absence of guests.

The second major research area is the selective synthesis of nanotubes. Control of the size and type of nanotube formation is an area of great interest which has not been addressed previously. Nanotubes fall into three different types, arm-chair, zigzag and chiral. The tubes themselves consist of a hollow cylinder with an end cap consisting of hexagons and 6 pentagons. In order to understand and tailor nanotube formation, we propose to synthesize customized end caps and use them to selectively nucleate the vapor phase growth of tubes. Using the basis of previously synthesized curved aromatic compounds, we will modify these units and submit them to the nanotube conditions. In this way, we as organic chemists use thermodynamics to drive their formation rather than a single atom approach. This will enable us to use these large molecules as microscopic building blocks for the development of new organic materials.

Another of our research interests is hydrogen bonding. It has been accepted that the hydrogen bonding in acid salts of maleic and phthalic acids are intramolecular even in aqueous solution. The experimental evidence for intramolecular hydrogen bonding is based on X-ray, IR and NMR data. While a proton shift of 20 ppm is considered indicative of strong hydrogen bonding, no one has discussed whether the downfield shift is a proximity effect. It is assumed that the hydrogen bond within the COO---H---OOC moiety has to be linear. This is impossible for most diacids due to steric constraints. We are currently investigating this effect for intramolecular and intermolecular hydrogen bonding using NMR spectroscopy and theoretical methods.

Current Educational Interests

I am currently a Co-Director of an Eisenhower Grant in collaboration with the Kansas City, Missouri School District, UMKC School of Education, and UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. The project is a one-year institute for middle and high school science and math teachers from the Kansas City, MO school district in order for the participants to develop inquiry-based teaching methods. I am the staff development specialist and major facilitator of the two-week workshop.

I am also developing a multimedia approach toward learning organic chemistry. Among students, there is often a negative feeling towards organic chemistry due to preconceived opinions, difficulties with problem solving, spatial deficiencies, and inadequate vocabulary. In order to improve both the overall attitude toward and understanding of organic chemistry, a multimedia approach will be used in the classroom. Supplemental material (i.e., course outlines, quizzes, example exams) will be available on the world wide web. This approach will empower the students with the knowledge that they are indeed in charge of their own education.
See courses website.