Dina C. Merrer

Professor of Chemistry

Dina C. Merrer joined the Barnard chemistry department in 2001.  A physical organic chemist, Professor Merrer and her undergraduate research group study the mechanisms of intermolecular carbene additions to strained cyclic compounds and the impact of reaction dynamics on these mechanisms.  They use a combination of experimental and computational techniques to elucidate reaction pathways that exhibit non-traditional behavior. The Merrer group has been supported continuously by the National Science Foundation or the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society or Research Corporation since starting at Barnard.

Merrer has mentored 42 undergraduate research students at Barnard.  Her students have co-authored several research papers; students’ names are noted below.  In addition, her students have presented their work at national meetings of the American Chemical Society and over two-thirds have gone on to Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D., and M.D. programs in the chemical and biological sciences or onto careers in the chemical sciences.

Merrer has served as the co-chair of the 2016 Reaction Mechanisms Conference (RMC) during which she co-organized a workshop on increasing diversity and inclusion in chemistry.  She has also served on the RMC Governing Board (2010-2016).  Merrer was the guest editor of the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry special issue on Reactive Intermediates and Unusual Molecules in 2011 and contributed a chapter on Dynamics in Carbene Reactions in Contemporary Carbene Chemistry in 2012.

Merrer teaches courses in organic chemistry, including Organic Chemistry I and II, and Advanced Organic Chemistry.  She is currently a member of the Faculty Finance and Resources Committee, the Committee on Instruction, the Barnard President's Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, chair of the Chemistry Department, and serves as premajor and major adviser for chemistry and biochemistry students. 


Grant Support


PI, Mechanisms, Kinetics, and Dynamics of Carbene Additions to Diarylcyclooctynes, National Science Foundation, CHE-1566361, 2016-2019, $310,000.  link

PI, Collaborations in Experimental and Computational Chemical Detective Work:  Determining Rogue Organic Reactions, Barnard College Presidential Research Award, 2016-2018, $50,000.


PI, Mechanisms and Dynamics of Carbene Additions to Anti-Bredt Olefins, Petroleum Research Fund, American Chemical Society, 52099-UR4, 2012-2016, $65,000.

PI, Dynamics of Carbene Additions to Aryl Cyclooctynes, Barnard College Minigrant, 2015, $8,000.

PI, Dynamic Control of Electrophilic Carbene Additions to Strained Cyclic C-C Bonds, National Science Foundation, CHE-0844034, 2009-2014, $283,626.  link

PI, Dynamics of Carbene Additions to Benzocyclopropene, National Center for Supercomputing Applications,TG CHE-110091, 2011-2013. 1.1M SU

Co-PI, MRI-R2: Acquisition of UV-Vis-NIR, FT-IR, and Fluorescence Spectrometric Instrumentation, National Science Foundation, CHE-0959177, 2009-2012, $166,668.  link

PI, Reaction Dynamics of Dichlorocarbene Additions to Cyclopropenes, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, TG CHE-100133, 2011-2012, 50,000 SU.

PI, Mechanisms of Electrophilic Carbene Additions to Strained Cyclic C-C Bonds, National Science Foundation, CHE-0517876, 2005-2009, $201,000.  link






Academic Focus: 

Academic Focus


Organic reaction mechanisms


Reaction dynamics



CHEM BC 3230y Organic Chemistry I

CHEM BC 3231x Organic Chemistry II

CHEM BC 3280y Advanced Organic Chemistry


Awards & Honors: 

Awards and Honors

Tow Professorship, 2014-16

Gladys Brooks Teaching Award, 2006

Professional Affiliations: 

Professional Affiliations

American Chemical Society

Phi Beta Kappa

Sigma Xi

Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

Presentations/Recent Lectures (undergraduate co-authors are emboldened)

(forthcoming invited talk) Good Behavior is Overrated: Carbene Additions to Strained Bonds, International Symposium on Reactive Intermediates and Unusual Molecules, Sorrento, Italy, June 2017.

(forthcoming invited talk) Merrer, D. C.  The Valley of Fear(lessness): Carbene Mysteries, James Flack Norris Award Symposium, 253rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Division of Organic Chemistry, San Francisco, CA, April 2017.

(forthcoming invited talk) Merrer, D. C.  Good Behavior is Overrated: Carbene Additions to Strained Bonds, Swarthmore College, February 2017.

Estes, V.; Scorese, A.; Nadeem, A.; Urquilla, A.; Dalchand, E.; Tsuno, S.; Merrer, D. C.  Mechanism of Chlorocarbene Additions to Diarylcyclooctynes, 251st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Division of Chemical Education, San Diego, CA, March 2016.

(invited talk) Merrer, D. C.  Mechanisms of carbene additions to strained C-C π bonds, Symposium on Reactive Intermediates and Unusual Molecules, International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies (Pacifichem), Honolulu, HI, December 2015.

Tsuno, S.; Yang, Z.; Dalchand, E.; Estes, V.; Nadeem, A.; Urquilla, A.; Houk, K. N.; Merrer, D. C.  Mechanisms and Dynamics of Chlorocarbene Additions to Diarylcyclooctynes, Gordon Research Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry, Plymouth, NH, June 2015.


(undergraduate co-authors are emboldened)

Hare, S.; Orman, M.; Dewan, F.; Dalchand, E.; Buzard, C.; Ahmed, S.; Tolentino, J. C.; Sethi, U.; Terlizzi, K.; Houferak, C.; Stein, A. M.; Stedronsky, A.; Thamattoor, D. M.; Tantillo, D. J.; Merrer, D. C.  Experimental and Computational Mechanistic Investigation of Chlorocarbene Additions to Bridgehead Carbene-anti-Bredt Systems:  Noradamantylcarbene-Adamantene and Adamantylcarbene-Homoadamantene, J. Org. Chem. 2015, 80, 5049-5065. link

D’Angelo, H.; McGuire, K. L.; Gillikin, C. M.; Merrer, D. C.  Evaluating the Impact of Oil Palm Agriculture and Logging on Soil Microbial Communities, in Land-use Change Impacts on Soil Processes; Brearley, F. Q.; Thomas, A. D., Eds.; CABI: U.K., 2015, in press.

Merrer, D. C.; Doubleday, C.  Dynamic Control of Dichlorocarbene Addition to Cyclopropene, J. Phys. Org. Chem. 2011, 24, 947-951.  link

Mo, X. Y.; Bernard, S. E.; Khrapunovich, M.; Merrer, D. C.  A Computational Study of Chlorocarbene Additions to Cyclooctyne, J. Org. Chem. 2008, 73, 8537-8544.  link

Khrapunovich, M.; Zelenova, E.; Seu, L.; Sabo, A. N.; Flaherty A.; Merrer, D. C.  Regioselectivity and Mechanism of Dihalocarbene Addition to Benzocyclopropene, J. Org. Chem. 2007, 72, 7574-7580.  link

Merrer, D. C.; Rablen, P. R.  Dichlorocarbene Addition to Cyclopropenes: A Computational Study, J. Org. Chem. 2005, 70, 1630-1635.  link



Office:  705 Altschul



B.A., chemistry (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Smith College, 1994.

Ph.D., organic chemistry, Rutgers University, 1999.  Advisor:  Robert A. Moss

Postdoctoral, organic chemistry, Ohio State University, 1999-2001.  Advisor:  Matthew S. Platz