Kendall Houk

Kendall Houk

name = Kendall Newcomb Houk

image_size = 140px
caption =
birth_date = birth date|1943|2|27
birth_place = Nashville, Tennessee, United States
residence =
nationality =
death_date =
death_place =
field = Chemistry
work_institution = U.C.L.A.
alma_mater = Harvard University
doctoral_advisor = Robert Burns Woodward
doctoral_students =
known_for = Theory of Pericyclic Reactions
prizes =
religion =
footnotes =.

Kendall Newcomb Houk (born 1943) is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles.


*Ph.D. Harvard University, Organic Chemistry, (1968)
Research advisor, R.B. Woodward, "The 6 + 4 cycloaddition reaction" [Harvard HOLLIS search, author: Kendall Newcomb Houk, Thesis (Ph. D.)--Harvard University, 1968.]
*M.S. Harvard University (1966)
*A.B. Harvard University (1964), "Magna cum laude"
Research advisor, R. A. Olofson

Research and Teaching Appointments

*Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1968
*Associate Professor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1972-1975
*Professor, Louisiana State University, 1975-1980
*Professor, University of Pittsburgh, 1980-1986
*Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, 1986-present

Research Interests

Kendall Houk research focuses on theoretical and computational organic chemistry. His group is involved in developments of rules to understand reactivity, computer modeling of complex organic reactions, and experimental tests of the predictions of theory. He collaborates prodigiously with chemists all over the world. Among current interests are the theoretical investigations and design of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, a collaboration that has recently led to the first successful design and synthesis of enzymes for non-natural reactions, [ [] , [] ] the quantitative modeling of asymmetric reactions used in synthesis, [ [] , [] ] the mechanisms and dynamics of pericyclic reactions and competing diradical processes, including a new theory of 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions, [ [] , [] ] the mechanisms of organometallic reactions, [ [] , [] ] and the molecular dynamics and reactions of hemicarcerands and other host-guest complexes. He has published over 700 articles in refereed journals and is among the 100 most-cited chemists. [ [] ] He is also a member of the California Nanosystems Institute. []

Mechanism and understanding of pericyclic reactions

Houk's work has made the transition states of pericyclic reactions nearly as familiar as ground states of organic molecules. His investigations of potential energy surfaces for pericyclic reactions for two decades have led to a thorough understanding of the geometries and energies of transition structures for all types of pericyclic reactions. These calculations show that such reactions are synchronous in the absence of unsymmetrical substituents. Houk discovered that there are normal bond lengths for transition structures of hydrocarbon pericyclic reactions. He provided an explanation of Zewail’s femtosecond dynamics measurements for hydrocarbons and made new generalizations about conical intersections involved in excited state reactions.

Houk discovered a powerful and unanticipated substituent effect in electrocyclic reactions of substituted cyclobutenes. Transition state calculations for the reaction of cyclobutenes led to the theory of "torquoselectivity," as he named it, a stereoselectivity arising from preferential direction of rotations of the terminal substituents accompanied by a torque on the breaking bond. The better the donor, the greater the preference for outward rotation. A prediction was made that a formyl group would rotate inward preferentially, to give the less stable product; Houk's group at UCLA verified this prediction experimentally. This major extension of the Woodward-Hoffmann rules has blossomed into a general principle of stereoselectivity, and experimental examples continue to be discovered in many labs.

A series of publications combining kinetic isotope effect computations with experimental measures of isotope effects in the literature or from Singleton's group have established the nature of transition states of several classic organic processes: the Diels-Alder reaction, Cope and Claisen rearrangements, peracid epoxidations, carbene and triazolinedione cycloadditions, and the osmium tetroxide bis-hydroxylation. The three-dimensional structures of transition states have become nearly as well-understood as the stable structures, largely due to his efforts.

Transition state force fields

Houk pioneered the modeling of transition states with force field methods. Even before modern searching tools existed, ab initio calculations were used to locate geometries of transition states and to determine force constants for distortions away from these preferred geometries. These developments showed more generally how computational techniques could be useful tool for synthetic organic chemists. The whole concept of "transition state modeling" has developed from Houk's pioneering contributions.

Carbene reactivity

Houk has provided a rigorous theoretical treatment of carbene reactivity as well as a general conceptual model for understanding reactions of these reactive intermediates. He showed how entropy control of reactivity and negative activation barriers both could be explained by a new, unified model in which reactions had no enthalpic barriers but do have significant entropic - and, therefore, free energy - barriers. The theory has had an impact on the interpretation of fast organic reactions.

upramolecular chemistry

Houk has recently made a major contribution to the understanding of molecular recognition. The discovery that a conformational process ("gating") is the rate-determining step in complex formation and dissociation of Cram's hemicarceplexes has produced a new design element in host design. The ability to compute rates of such reactions have been first developed in his laboratories. The investigation of stabilities and mechanisms of catenanes and rotaxanes has already led to discovery of gating phenomena and electrostatic stabilization of these complexes.

Dynamic effects

Dynamic effects are a recent focus of the Houk group beginning with a collaboration with Singleton using MD parameterized with semiempirical potentials and more recently using Born Oppenheimer MD and metadynamics.Fact|date=September 2008

Catalytic antibodies and protein design

Houk's recent work on catalytic antibodies and enzymes increased understanding of the quantitative aspects of these complex phenomena. He established quantitative comparisons of host-guest complex binding energies and of the effectiveness of enzymes in biological catalysts.

Now he has teamed with David Baker to design protein structures that will catalyze non-natural reactions. This collaboration is part of the DARPA Protein Design Processes project comprised of numerous research groups also including William Jorgensen, Hommes Helinga, David Mayo, Willie Taylor, Hammes-Schiffer, Carlos Barbas, Don Hilvert, and others.

Administrative Experience

*Chairman of the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1991-1994.
*Director of the chemistry division of the NSF from 1988-1990.
*Director, UCLA Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Program, NIH-supported training grant. 2002-present
*Chair, AAAS Chemistry Section, 2005
*Senior Editor, Accounts of Chemical Research
*Chair of the NIH Synthesis and Biological Chemistry Study SessionFact|date=September 2008
*member of the NIH Medicinal Chemistry Study Section
*member of NRC Board of Chemical Sciences and Technology
*Advisory board of the Chemistry Division of the National Science Foundation
*Advisory board of the Petroleum Research Fund
*Advisory boards of journals including Accounts of Chemical Research, the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Chemical and Engineering News, and the Journal of Computational Chemistry [ [|UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry K.N. Houk faculty profile page] ]

Professional Societies

*American Association for the Advancement of Science
*American Chemical Society
*Chemical Society of London
*International Society of Quantum Biology
*Inter-American Photochemical Society
*International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science
*World Association of Theoretical Organic Chemistry

Awards [ [| From Professor Houk's Research Group homepage at UCLA] ]

*2003 ACS Award for Computers in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Research
*2002 American Academy of Arts and Sciences
*2001 Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
*2000 Lise Meitner Lecturer (Hebrew University, Jerusalem Israel)
*2000 Lady Davis Fellow (Technion in Haifa, Israel)
*1999 honorary doctorate (Dr. rer. nat. h. c.) from the University of Essen, Germany
*1999 Tolman Medal (American Chemical Society Southern California Section)
*1998 Faculty Research Lecturer, UCLA
*1998 Schrodinger Medal (World Association of Theoretical Organic Chemistry)
*1998 Bruylants Chair from the University of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium
*1993 Visiting Erskine Fellow (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
*1993 Herbert Newby McCoy Award, UCLA
*1991 James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry
*1990 Distinguished Lecturer, Montana State University
*1989 Frank Burnett Dains Lecturer, University of Kansas
*1988 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award
*1988 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
*1987 First Merck Frosst Lecturer, University of Sherbrooke, Canada
*1987 Phillips Distinguished Lectureship, Haverford College
*1987 Castle Lecturer, University of South Florida
*1986 Organic Synthesis Distinguished Lecturer, Colorado State University
*1984 Winstein Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles
*1983 Akron Section of the American Chemical Society Award
*1983 Frontiers of Chemical Research Lecturer, Texas A&M University
*1982 von Humboldt U.S. Senior Scientist Award
*1982 A.D. Little Lecturer, Northeastern University
*1980 Mobay Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh
*1978 LSU Distinguished Research Master Award
*1975-1977 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship
*1974-1975 Visiting Professor, Princeton University
*1972-1977 Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Grant


External links

* [ Professor Houk's Website]
* [ His International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science page]
* [ ISI Author Profile]

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