Reactions: Hosea Nelson

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Hosea Nelson is in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA, and works in organic methodology and catalysis.

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

Biology. Early in my career I became fascinated by biomolecules like DNA and protein enzymes. This led to a strong desire to have a more atomistic understanding of how they work and how they interact with small molecules. I found out quickly that I had to study chemistry to do this.

2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be — and why?

Valet parking. The second most fun that I ever had working. I did this when I was in my early twenties. I got to drive a lot of nice cars, had the opportunity to interact with cool people, and made cash tips. Working for tips can be fun.

3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?

We are working in quite a few areas of catalysis ranging from small molecule activation to asymmetric methodology. My dream is to develop reactions that are broadly applied to solve the many problems that plague humanity!!!

4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with — and why?

Albert Einstein. I may be naive when it comes to physics, but I view the theory of general relativity as one of the most insightful and creative additions to science. I love to rub shoulders with creative scientists…. Maybe some of their magic will rub off on me.

5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab — and what was it?

Last month. I screened conditions for a transition metal-catalyzed alkene hydration.

6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?

For music, the soundtrack to Superfly by Curtis Mayfield. For reading, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions — and why?

Ken Houk. He could tell cool stories about Woodward.