About Molly

Hello! I’m the second instalment of the Sung Sister duo. I’m currently completing my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Prof. Robert Morris. My research on the design of catalysts and how we can predict the reactivity of metal-hydrides through ligand design.

My Research

My PhD thesis focusses on the efficient design of metal-based hydrogenation catalysts. My supervisor, Prof. Robert Morris, developed a method that helps us accurately predict the pKa values of metal-hydrides. To do so, “ligand acidity constants” are assigned to classes of ligands which can be added together to predict the overall acidity of the hydride.

Much of my work has been in proving the accuracy of this method computationally through Density Functional Theory. I am also working toward expanding the applicability of the method to more ligands. You can read more about my work here:

Ligand acidity constants as calculated by density functional theory for PF3 and N-Heterocyclic carbene ligands in hydride complexes of Iron(II): Link

Density Functional Theory Calculations Support the Additive Nature of Ligand Contributions to the pKa of Iron Hydride Phosphine Carbonyl Complexes: Link

You can find out a bit more about what our research group does here.

My Writing

When I have time, I also do a little bit of writing for causes I care about. Here are pieces that I have published for a various types of audiences.

The Canadian Chemical News: STEM education meets social priorities
Science Borealis: Science advocacy can save Canadian science (and the next generation of Canadian scientists)
Green Chemistry Initiative Blog: Veggie (Scrap) Tales – Are plant-based polymers the answer to our plastic conundrum?

Volunteer Experience

Outside of the lab, I spend a lot of my time thinking about science and society, and about policy and politics. I learned fairly early on in my degree that I wanted to be involved in this aspect of science and have since started working towards making that my day-job post PhD.

The Toronto Science Policy Network

In the summer of 2018, I co-founded the Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) with the goal of providing the University of Toronto community to learn more about and engage in science policy. We run science policy related workshops such as Policy Writing 101, Science Advocacy 101, and Science Policy 101, and we host public panel discussions on relevant topics like climate change, and sex-education.

I was interviewed about my experience creating the group at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in November, 2018.

Learn more about TSPN here.

The Chemical Institute of Canada
As Chair of CIC-Toronto, I welcomed Prof. Polly Arnold to Toronto for the E Gordon Young Lectures

The Chemical Institute of Canada – Toronto Section (CIC-Toronto) is a professional society that aims to connect chemical and chemical engineering professionals from across the Greater Toronto Area. I first joined the Chemical Institute of Canada in 2015 as a volunteer and have since had stints as Chair, Vice-Chair, Government Liaison, and Events Coordinator. Some of my proudest achievements at CIC are creating the CICTor Votes program, bringing Prof. Polly Arnold to town for the E. Gordon Young Lecture Series, and creating the CIC-Toronto/Women in Chemistry-TO Mentorship Program.

Learn more about CIC-Toronto here.

University of Toronto – Green Chemistry Initiative

The Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI) was created in 2012 by chemistry graduate students at the University of Toronto to promote sustainability in chemical research and education. We run workshops, seminars, a blog, and an annual symposium. As part of the GCI, I was appointed to the Joint Health and Safety Committee in the Chemistry Department and helped lead the GCI Safety Projects.

Learn more about the Green Chemistry Initiative here.

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