Vignesh Palani stands before a blank wall.

Vignesh Palani wins School of Science Infinite Expansion Award

Categories: Awards, Postdocs

Palani was one of seven postdocs and research scientists selected as recipients of the award, which recognizes exceptional contributions to MIT.

Vignesh Palani, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Alison Wendlandt‘s lab, has been recognized with an Infinite Expansion Award from the School of Science. Nominated by their peers and mentors, the awardees are recognized not only for their exceptional science, but for mentoring and advising junior colleagues, supporting educational programs, working with the MIT Postdoctoral Association, or contributing some other way to the Institute.

“It is a great honor for me to receive the Infinite Expansion award,” said Palani, who joined the Wendlandt Group in 2021. “Thank you to the committee members for considering me worthy of this award. I consider this recognition as a motivation for me to push my limits to do even better and I thank all of you for your support.”

Palani’s research in Wendlandt lab focuses on the development and application of molecular editing tools. Molecular editing encompassing selective alteration of the compounds’ architecture without disrupting other inherent functionalities has emerged as a hotspot in new method development. In this context, he was majorly involved in two projects. For the first project, he was part of a team working on developing a photocatalytic tool to enable epimerization of unactivated methine stereocenters in complex molecule settings. In addition, Palani also contributed to the evolution of an editing tool to allow rapid access to cyclobutenes from readily available cyclobutylidenes via strain-inducing positional alkene isomerization. Mechanistically, both these transformations proceed through sequential steps of hydrogen-atom abstraction and selective hydrogen-atom donation mediated by two distinct catalysts.