Monday, May 16, 2016

Guest Post: A Philosophical Consideration of Total Synthesis

This post comes from outside the Baran lab. A very talented undergraduate (Wade Miller) from the University of Pennsylvania sent us his paper from an assignment in philosophy class regarding the relevance of total synthesis in the modern era. It's a topic near and dear to our hearts and a great read.  For those students and postdocs toiling away at a natural product or those completely fed up with the field - this well reasoned and fair analysis will be of great interest to you. Although it is easily fit to be published in a peer reviewed journal, Wade has graciously allowed us to publish it here as an Open Flask exclusive :)

Congrats Wade, hopefully you get an A+!  And don't forget to apply to Scripps for graduate school!

One of our favorite quotes: "Total synthesis is not an obsolete field hoping to outlive its relevance. It is a field that has been forced to adapt to changing times and changing notions of scientific value."

Download the paper at the link above or here:

From Wade:

I just finished my Junior year as a chemistry major at the University of Pennsylvania (particularly interested in medicinal chemistry). With an interest in the history and philosophy of science, I decided to embark on an independent study with Dr. Michael Weisberg of the Philosophy department, and after a few conversations we both decided that it would be interesting if I would focus on topics in the philosophy of chemistry. The topic of the paper is greatly inspired by my experience in a chemistry lab and conversations with friends researching in other scientific disciplines. The paper is a product of discussions with Dr. Weisberg, as well as correspondences with several chemists and historians of chemistry. 

-Wade Miller