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Eric Ballard

Eric Ballard
Associate Professor of Chemistry 

  • B.S. in Chemical Engineering, University of Kentucky; Mentor: Professor Asit K. Ray
  • Ph.D. in Chemistry, North Carolina State University; Mentor: Professor Binghe Wang
  • Postdoctoral Researcher in Chemistry, University of
    North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mentor: Professor James P. Morken

Research Interests

Eric Ballard is interested in discovering new methods for the preparation of organic compounds. In particular, he is interested in new reactions applying green chemistry concepts. (Green chemistry aims to perform chemical reactions more efficiently with safer reagents to generate less waste.) New synthetic methods, especially those consistent with the ideas of green chemistry, are always needed for the total synthesis of biologically and chemically interesting molecules and for useful preparations of new materials or pharmaceuticals.

The natural products shown below have been prepared by total synthesis in the laboratory. Paclitaxel (Taxol ®) became one of the best-selling drugs. It is a mitotic inhibitor used for the treatment of several cancers, including breast and ovarian tumors. Paclitaxel was originally isolated from the Pacific yew tree. Saxitoxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins; it causes paralytic shellfish poisoning caused by red tides. These two compounds hint at the diversity of powerful biological activities and beautiful architectures associated with naturally occurring substances. To prepare complex molecules, new synthetic methods are always needed.

Paclitaxel and Saxitoxin and their effects on the environment
Graphic credits:; tide;

Undergraduate Lab Research

Student recording lab results
A UT student in Eric Ballard's lab records data from an experiment.

Learning by conducting research is complementary to learning in lecture and laboratory courses. In courses, students learn about science; in the research lab, students perform science. In Ballard's lab, student co-workers are given a research project to develop. They learn how to apply the scientific method to a research project by reading the literature to generate hypotheses and design experiments. Student researchers learn additional techniques about conducting experiments and interpreting empirical data. Ballard encourages students to email if they are curious about his research or interested in working in his lab.

Current Projects

Development of an enantioselective acylation catalyst for secondary alcohols

Development of an enantioselective acylation catalyst

Study of an intramolecular Cannizzaro reaction for the preparation of hydroxy acids

Study of an intramolecular Cannizzaro reaction

Recent Off-campus presentations (UT student coauthors' names are in bold type):

Tamir Galili (UT student coauthor) and C. Eric Ballard, "SN1 Alkylation of 1, 3-Dicarbonyl Compounds in Aqueous Reaction Mixtures," Poster at the 257th National ACS Meeting, March31-April 4, 2019. CHED-1263.

Forrest H Lundy (UT student coauthor) and C. Eric Ballard, "SN1 Alkylation of Heterocycles in Aqueous Reaction Mixtures," Poster at the 257th National ACS Meeting, March 31-April 4, 2019. CHED-1201.

C. Eric Ballard, "SN1 Alkylation of C-Nucleophiles in Aqueous Mixtures: Effect of Surfactant," Poster at the 255th National ACS Meeting, March 18-22, 2018. ORGN-690.

C. Eric Ballard, "One-Pot Reduction/Cyclization of (2-Nitropheny)acetylenes to Prepare Indoles," Poster at the 245th National ACS Meeting, April 7-11, 2013. ORGN-840. 

Recent Publications

C. Eric Ballard, “Green Oxidative Homocoupling of 1-Methylimidazole,” J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90, 1368-1372.

C. Eric Ballard, “Green Reductive Homocoupling of Bromobenzene," J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 1148-1151.

C. Eric Ballard, "pH-Controlled Oxidation of an Aromatic Ketone: Structural Elucidation of the Products of Two Green Chemical Reactions," J. Chem. Educ. 2010, 87, 190-193.