About Alex

About Alex Speed
Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University
I always wear safety glasses now! Not in 1992.

I was born and raised in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and have counted chemistry among my interests for as long as I can remember.  I started as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in July 2015. I was educated in the public school system of Liverpool, and I earned my BSc at Dalhousie University in 2006. Despite my current interest in main group catalysis and methods development, almost the entirety of my training was conducted in total synthesis. I was introduced to research and organic chemistry in summer research with Prof. James A. Pincock in 2003, working in the area of organic photochemistry. I conducted an honours project and two summers of research with Prof. D. Jean Burnell, learning synthetic technique by helping scale up intermediates for synthesis, then conducting my own projects, first using a carbohydrate derivative as a chiral controller, and then catching the organometallic bug by investigating the diastereoselectivity of cross-metathesis dimerizations of chiral but racemic substrates.

 My undergraduate studies were followed by PhD studies at Harvard University. After a year in the group of Prof. Tobias Ritter working with low-valent iron complexes, I completed my PhD in the group of Prof. David A. Evans,  graduating in 2012. During my time in the Evans group, I completed a synthesis of peloruside A, and synthesized a compound en-route to spiro-prorocentrimine containing all 16 stereocentres, solving a tricky stereochemical problem in a Diels-Alder reaction on the way. I had a lot of latitude in applying my interest in organometallic chemistry to this synthesis. Working on spiro-prorocentrimine also introduced me to imines, and homogenous hydrogenation of alkenes employing rhodium and iridium catalysis. After graduating from Harvard, I went across the river to Boston College, and worked for Prof. Amir Hoveyda to expand my exposure to methods development and learn about the intricacies of Z selective olefin metathesis. During my time in the Hoveyda group, I completed a synthesis of disorazole C1, working with molybdenum-based olefin metathesis catalysts to synthesize an advanced intermediate for a challenging Suzuki dimerization. After 9 years in the Boston area, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to return to Dalhousie, to establish a research group, and conduct research and teaching in chemistry. When I'm not in the lab, you might find me pursuing my passion for history, hiking, or enjoying Nova Scotia's excellent seafood offerings.

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