Makeda Tekle-Smith

Makeda Tekle-Smith

Research Interest


Makeda Tekle-Smith was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She obtained her B.A. in chemistry at Pomona College in 2014. As an undergraduate, she investigated new anti-malarial compounds with Prof. Cynthia Selassie. She then obtained her Ph.D. with Prof. James Leighton at Columbia University in 2019. There she developed new methods to construct asymmetric C(sp3)–C(sp3) bonds and applied these technologies to the total synthesis of non-aromatic polyketide natural products. Makeda then went on to conduct her postdoctoral research with Prof. Abigail Doyle first at Princeton University and then at the University of California Los Angeles. Makeda's postdoctoral work has focused on generating and harnessing reactive radical intermediates through photoredox catalysis to unveil new reactivity platforms. Makeda began her independent career at Columbia University in 2022.

Research Summary:
The Tekle-Smith group is interested in studying fundamental physical organic chemistry principles in the field of asymmetric synthesis. The goals of this program are to create enantiopure substances, harness the reactivity of unconventional chiral motifs, and grow the fundamental understanding of chiral structural effects. Research will be applied to pharmaceutical development, materials design, and sustainable synthetic method development.

A General Strategy for C(sp3)–H Functionalization with Nucleophiles Using Methyl Radical as a Hydrogen Atom Abstractor. Leibler, I. N.-M.; Tekle-Smith, M. A.; Doyle, A. G. Nat. Commun. 2021, 12, 6950.

N-Acetoxyphthalimide. Leibler, I. N.-M.; Tekle-Smith, M. A. Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis; John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester, United Kingdom, 2021.

Nickel/Photoredox-Catalyzed Methylation of (Hetero)aryl Chlorides Using Trimethyl Orthoformate as a Methyl Radical Source. Kariofillis, S. K.; Shields, B. J.; Tekle-Smith, M. A.; Zacuto, M. J.; Doyle, A. G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 16, 7683–7689.

Design, 22-step synthesis, and evaluation of highly potent linker-equipped analogs of spongistatin 1. Suen, L. M.; Tekle-Smith, M. A.; Williamson, K. S.; Infantine, J. R.; Reznik, S. K.; Tanis, P. S.; Casselman, T. D.; Sackett, D. L.; Leighton, J. L. Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 4710.

Direct, Mild, and General n-Bu4NBr-Catalyzed Aldehyde Allylsilylation with Allyl Chlorides. Tekle-Smith, M. A.; Williamson, K. S.; Hughes, I. F.; Leighton, J. L. Org. Lett. 2017, 19, 6024–6027.