David B. Cordes

David B. Cordes

Associate Professor, Chemistry



UC Box: A121

Office: Murdock 106


Postdoctoral Researcher in Chemistry and Material Sciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA from 2005-2007.

Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA in 2005.

Bachelor of Arts in History and Special Honors Curriculum with a Minor in English Literature, Hunter College, Park Avenue, NY in 1990.

Areas of Research & Specialization

Fluorescent Chemosensors and Biosensors, Organic Methodology, Catalysts and Methods for Asymmetric Synthesis, Materials Science, Science Education, Philosophy and History of Science, 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


Published Works

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

* indicated student author