SUNY Oneonta News

March 3, 2010



ONEONTA, N.Y. -- Dr. Jacqueline Bennett, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the SUNY College at Oneonta, has worked with the Technology Transfer Office at the Research Foundation of SUNY to file a provisional patent application for an environmentally friendly method of preparing imines, chemical compounds that are used worldwide in the manufacture of products such as pharmaceuticals, corrosion inhibitors, and additives for accelerating environmental degradation of plastics.

For example, Merck, the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, markets the cholesterol lowering drug Zetia®, which is made starting from an imine. Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, is exploring analogs to Zetia® that use imines as key intermediates to develop more effective alternatives.

Dr. Bennett and her students have produced some of the same intermediates by a much more benign and efficient method than the manufacturers currently use, according to the group’s research into the manufacturers’ recent patents.

Dr. Bennett’s method requires far less energy, is faster, and uses solvents that are renewable, biodegradable, and FDA approved as food additives rather than traditional petroleum based solvents currently in use. The method has the potential to make the manufacturing process less costly, and it could lessen the environmental impact of particular types of pharmaceutical syntheses.

Dr. Bennett and her student-research group--known as BLONDES for Building a Legacy of Outstanding New Developments and Excellence in Science--began their research that resulted in the process in 2008. They published their preliminary results in the journal “Green Chemistry” in 2009. Five SUNY Oneonta students and one Oneonta High School student served as co-authors of the article.

With support from the SUNY Oneonta Student/Faculty Grant Program for Research and Creative Activity, Dr. Bennett and her group are now working on quantifying the entire cost of the process in terms of energy use, reactant and solvent cost, time involved, and equipment, glassware, and waste disposal costs. They will compare the cost of their method to several traditional and other environmentally friendly methods later in the semester.

Dr. Bennett recently presented her group’s research at the American Chemical Society’s national conference in Salt Lake City, the SUNY Oneonta Faculty Convivium, and the SUNY Oneonta Faculty Research Show. She is scheduled to give a talk at Binghamton University’s Chemistry Colloquium later this year.

The student-researchers plan to present their work at the College’s Student Research Day on April 22.

More than a dozen SUNY Oneonta students have participated in research associated with the patent application. Several recent graduates from the group have gone on to graduate programs in the sciences at major universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and the University of California--Santa Barbara.

A number of current SUNY Oneonta students continue to work with Dr. Bennett in her research group, including senior Chemistry major Kaitlyn Charles, junior Chemistry and Biology major Anyango Kamina, sophomore Chemistry major Alyson Marmet, senior Chemistry and Biology major Gwendolyn Nieves, senior Biology major Miyeon Presky, and senior Chemistry major Jessica Rodriguez.

Based on the initial success of their method, the group has expanded the scope of imines
synthesized to include over 50 different compounds. They are currently investigating whether their method is successful with all types of imines.

With support from a second student-faculty research grant from the College, the group is also at work on a project that uses imines to create metal complexes that may be valuable as catalysts, components of organic light emitting diodes, or biosensors.

Dr. Bennett joined the SUNY Oneonta faculty in 2006. In 2008, she received a grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation’s Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences for a project to develop and implement green photochemistry experiments to use in labs in the College’s organic chemistry courses. Last year, she served as principal investigator for a grant of $164,753 from the National Science Foundation to support the introduction of computational chemistry to the College’s chemistry curriculum through a graduated approach.

Jacqueline Bennett holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Riverside. Before joining the College, she taught chemistry at Drury University. She is a 1987 graduate of George Washington High School in Charleston, West Virginia.

More information about the patent and the work of the research group is available from Dr. Bennett at (607) 436-3431 or




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