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Melanie Sanford is the Moses Gomberg Distinguished University Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She received a BS and MS in chemistry from Yale University in 1996 and a PhD in chemistry from California Institute of Technology in 2001. After an NIH post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University, she started her independent career at the University of Michigan in 2003. Professor Sanford’s research interests span the fields of inorganic and organic chemistry. She conducts fundamental mechanistic studies of chemical reactions and then utilizes insights gained from these studies for applications including pharmaceutical and agrochemical development, positron emission tomography imaging, carbon dioxide recycling, and redox flow batteries. She has received a number of awards, including the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Chemistry (2013), a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2011), and the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry (2011). She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Chemical Society.


Professor Melanie Sanford’s scientific interests span the fields of inorganic and organic chemistry. Specifically, her research focuses on the discovery and detailed mechanistic study of new chemical reactions. These include unprecedented transformations of high valent late transition metal complexes, novel catalytic C–H functionalization reactions, new strategies for the fluorination of organic molecules, and the interrogation of decomposition pathways of charged battery materials. This work has applications in the development of new methods for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, in the construction of imaging agents for positron emission tomography, and in the design of electroactive materials for grid-scale energy storage.

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