Chemistry Department: David B. Cordes




Associate Professor


Contact information
Phone: 503.352.3021



Education and Training


2005 – 2007        Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA       

                                       Postdoctoral Researcher, Chemistry and Material Sciences

2001 - 2005           University of California at Santa Cruz

                                       Ph.D. in organic chemistry- September 2005

1986 - 1990             Hunter College, City University of New York

                                      B.A. Major in History and Special Honors Curriculum 

                                      Minor in English Literature


Research Interests:           

                       *Fluorescent Chemosensors and Biosensors

                       *Organic Methodology

                       *Catalysts and Methods for Asymmetric Synthesis

                       *Materials Science

                       *Science Education

                       *Philosophy and History of Scienc

                       *Art & Science and the Science of Art Materials


Our research collective is currently conducting research in two areas: organic chemistry methodology and fluorescent chemosensors.  A few intrepid students are beginning to explore new photographic printing methods, but these studies are only beginning.


Project I: Organic Chemistry Methodology

This project involves developing new and selective methods for reduction of various functional groups.  Our initial research focused on palladium-catalyzed reduction of alkenes and alkynes using sodium borohydride and was later modified to provide a method for the selective 1,4-conjugate reduction of unsaturated carbonyl compounds. This initial work developed into a systematic project and resulted in a publication in Tetrahedron Letters naming four students as co-authors.  A link to a student poster on this research is available by selecting the following link:




Organic Methodology Research Poster


Project II: Fluorescent Chemosensors  

This project involves the synthesis of fluorescent nanoparticles called quantum dots. The research is directed towards modification of these quantum dots to prepare chemical sensors for various analytes such as iron, vitamin C, and sugar.  In such sensor systems, the degree of fluorescence, or brightness, of the analyte-sensitive quantum dots can be correlated with the concentration of the particular analyte. A link to a student poster on this research is available by selecting the following link:


Quantum Dot Sensor Research Poster


I have been fortunate to receive institutional support from Pacific University and additional funds from the Murdock Foundation for the support of this research.


Project III:  An Organic Chemistry Art Show, “100 Years of Organic Chemistry”

This is a series of oil paintings featuring key personalities in the development of the science of organic chemistry.  The slide show in pdf format is linked below.  It is best viewed with Adobe Reader in full screen view.




 Organic Chemistry Art Show


Recent Publications


J. Suri, D.B. Cordes, F. Cappuccio, R.A. Wessling, B. Singaram, “Monosaccharide Detection with 4,7-Phenanthrolinium Salts: Charge-Induced Fluorescence Sensing”  Langmuir, 2003, 19, 5145.


J. Suri, D.B. Cordes, F. Cappuccio, R.A. Wessling, B. Singaram, “Continuous Glucose Sensing with a Fluorescent Thin Film Hydrogel” Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, 2003, 47, 5857.


F. Cappuccio, J. Suri, D.B. Cordes, R.A. Wessling, B. Singaram, “Optimization of Pyranine Derivatives in Boronic Acid-Based Saccharide Sensing: Significance of Charge Interaction between Dye and Quencher in Solution and Hydrogel” Journal of Fluorescence, 2004, 14, 521.


D.B. Cordes, A. Miller, S. Gamsey,  Z. Sharrett, P. Thoniyot, R. A. Wessling,  B. Singaram, “Optical Glucose Detection Across the Visible Spectrum Using Anionic Fluorescent Dyes and a Viologen Quencher in a Two-Component Saccharide Sensing System”, Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 2005, 3, 1708-1713.


D.B. Cordes, S. Gamsey,  Z. Sharrett, A. Miller, P. Thoniyot, R. A. Wessling,  B. Singaram, “Fluorescence Sensing of Monosaccharides with Boronic Acid Substituted Bipyridinium Quenchers and Pyranine: The Effects of Quencher Charge”, Langmuir, 2005, 21, 6540-6547.


D.B. Cordes, T.M. Nguyen, T.J. Kwong, J.T. Suri,  R.T. Luibrand, and B. Singaram, “Asymmetric Reduction of Ketones under Mild Conditions Using NaBH4 and TarB-NO2: An Efficient and Unusual Acyloxyborohydride Reducing System” European Journal of Organic Chemistry 2005, 24, 5289-5295.


D.B. Cordes, T.J. Kwong, K.A. Morgan, and B. Singaram, “Chiral Styrene Oxides from α-haloacetophenones Using NaBH4 and TarB-NO2, a Chiral Lewis Acid” Tetrahedron Letters, 2006, 47, 349-351.


D.B. Cordes, J.T. Suri, F.E. Cappuccio, J.N. Camara, S. Gamsey,  Z. Sharrett, P.Thoniyot, R. A. Wessling,  B. Singaram, “Two-Component Optical Sugar Sensing Using Boronic Acid Substituted Viologens and Anionic Fluorescent Dyes: Modulated Quenching with Viologen as a Method for Glucose Detection”, chapter in Topics in Fluorescence Spectroscopy, vol. 11, 2006.


D.B. Cordes, S. Gamsey, B. Singaram, “Fluorescent Quantum Dots with Boronic Acid Substituted Viologens to Sense Glucose in Aqueous Solution”, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, 2006, 45, 3829-3832.


S. Gamsey, N.A. Baxter,  Z. Sharrett,  D.B. Cordes, M.M. Olmstead,  R.A. Wessling, B. Singaram, “The effect of boronic acid-positioning in an optical glucose-sensing ensemble”, Tetrahedron, 2006, 62, 6321–6331.


P. Thoniyot, F.E. Cappuccio, S. Gamsey, D.B. Cordes, R.A. Wessling, B. Singaram, “Continuous Glucose Sensing with Fluorescent Thin-Film Hydrogels. 2. Fiber Optic Sensor Fabrication and In Vitro Testing” Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, June 2006, Vol. 8, No. 3: 279-287.


J. Kim, J.T. Suri, D.B. Cordes, B. Singaram. "Asymmetric Reductions Involving
Borohydrides: A Practical Asymmetric Reduction of Ketones Mediated by
(L)-TarB-NO2: A Chiral Lewis Acid", Organic Process Research and Development, 2006, 10, 949-958.


D.B. Cordes, A. Miller, S. Gamsey, B. Singaram, “Simultaneous Use of Multiple Fluorescent Reporter Dyes for Glucose Sensing in Aqueous Solution”, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2007, 387, 2767–2773.


A.T Tran*, V.A. Huynh*, E.M. Friz*, S.K. Whitney*, D.B. Cordes, “A General Method for the Rapid Reduction of Alkenes and Alkynes Using Sodium Borohydride, Acetic Acid, and Palladium”, Tetrahedron Letters, 2009, 50, 1817–1819.


Submitted for Publication:

A. Russo*, K. Amezcua*, V.A. Huynh*, Z. Rousslang* and D.B. Cordes, “A Simple Borohydride-Based Method for the Selective 1,4-Conjugate Reduction of a,b-Unsaturated Carbonyl Compounds Using Sodium Borohydride and Palladium,” Submitted September 2011.

*student author