Julie Pigza

Assistant Professor

Organic Chemistry




  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Queensborough Community College/CUNY (2010-2013)
    QCC Chemistry Department
  • Postdoctoral research associate; University of California San Diego (2008-2009)
    Advisor: Dr. Ted Molinski
    UCSD Chemistry Department
    Marine natural products isolation and characterization; non-natural amino acid synthesis

Research Interests:

I have initiated an organic synthesis program with a fully functional organic lab (~1000 square feet). Research instrumentation shared with the Donahue research group include a Biotage microwave reactor, Agilent HPLC, ReactIR, and a Teledyne ISCO automated chromatography system. Our department houses a 400 MHz Bruker NMR, Nicolet IR, and a low resolution ESI-MS system. My research aims encompass: 1) non-traditional functional group conversions, 2) organocatalysis to install new bonds in a stereoselective fashion, and 3) the synthesis of heterocycles as therapeutic targets.

 None of the research can be accomplished without the contributions of students at all levels. Under my mentorship, I have trained 2 graduate students, 10 undergraduate students, and 4 high school students. Students are encouraged to present their work in oral and poster format and to submit their projects for funding opportunities. As of Jan 2019, students have given a total of 40 presentations, including those at national American Chemical Society meetings and the International Science and Engineering Fair. Students have been awarded with funding at all levels, including graduate student stipend support through the National Science Foundation (NSF NRT), undergraduate support through research internships (St. Jude’s Pediatric Oncology Program) and internal research funding (Drapeau Summer grant, Eagle Wings, and Eagle SPUR). High school support has been received through the American Chemical Society Project SEED, including one national collegiate scholarship winner.

 Students in my group will learn a variety of organic synthesis techniques and purification as well as analytical methods including NMR, IR, and mass spectroscopy both to elucidate the structure of known and unknown compounds.

Honors and Awards:

  • Drapeau Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award, 2018
  • ACS Science Coach – Mentor to Local High School Teacher, 2015
  • Academic Keys Who's Who in Sciences Higher Education, 2014
  • Writing Intensive Training and Certification (Queensborough Comm Coll), 2011
  • Visiting Scholar Appointment through Vanderbilt University (Queensborough Comm Coll), 2010-2013
  • Pfizer Diversity in Organic Chemistry Graduate Fellowship (Indiana University), 2005-2006
  • Jack K. Crandall Award in Organic Chemistry (Indiana University), 2004
  • Eli Lilly Organic Chemistry Fellowship (Indiana University), 2002
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory Summer Internship Award (Allegheny College), 2001
  • ACS Polymer Education Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry (Allegheny College), 2000


1. Jentsch, N. G.; Hart, A. P.; Hume, J. D.; Sun, J.; McNeely, K. A.; Lama, C.; Pigza, J. A.; Donahue M. G.; Kessl, J. J. "Synthesis of Biaryl Quinolines and their Evaluation as HIV-1 Integrase Multimerization Inhibitors" ACS Med Chem. Lett. 2018, 9, 1007-1012 (Link)

2. Jentsch, N. G.; Hume, J. D.; Crull, E. B.; Beauti, S. M.; Pham, A. H.*; Pigza, J. A.; Kessl, J.; Donahue, M. G. “Quinolines from the Cyclocondensation of Isatoic Anhydride with Ethyl Acetoacetate: Preparation of Ethyl 4-Hydroxy-2-methylquinoline-3-carboxylate and Derivatives” Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 2018, 14, 2529-2536 (Link)

3. Hart, A.; Kelley, S. A.; Harless, T.; Hood, J. A.; Tagert, M.; Pigza, J. A. "An Efficient Method for the Reductive Conversion of Esters to Ethers via a TMS-protected Acetal" Tetrahedron Letters 2017, 58, 3024-3027 (Link)

4. "4-Dimethylaminopyridine", Hassner, A.; Hart, A.; Pigza, J. A. First Update: Electronic Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis, Fuchs, P. L.; Bode, J. W.; Charette, A. B.; Rovis, T. Eds.; John Wiley & Sons Ltd.: Sussex, 31-Mar-2016 (Link)

5. Hemraj-Benny, T.; Pigza, J. A.; Budhoo, S.*; Condon, L.*; Depner, S. W.; Dennis, R. V.; Banerjee, S. “Synthesis of Novel Single-walled Carbon Nanotube-magnesium Nanoparticle Composites by a Solution Reduction Method” Mater. Lett. 2014, 117, 305-308

6. “Serratezomine A”, Pigza, J. A.; Johnston, J. N. Invited Book Chapter, Ch. 6 of “Total Synthesis of Natural Products. At the Frontiers of Organic Chemistry”, Li, J. J; Corey, E. J.; Springer-Verlag: Berlin, Heidelberg, March 5, 2013.

7. Pigza, J. A.; Han, J.-S.; Chandra, A.; Mutnick, D; Pink, M.; and Johnston, J. N. “Total Synthesis of the Lycopodium Alkaloid Serratezomine A Using Free Radical-Mediated Vinyl Amination to Prepare a β-Stannyl Enamine Linchpin” J. Org. Chem. (featured article) 2013, 78, 822-843. (Note: made the top most read articles in J. Org. Chem. during the Jan-Mar 2013 quarter).

8. Haines, N. R.; VanZanten, A. N.; Cuneo, A. A.; Miller, J. R.; Andrews, W. J.; Carlson, D. A.; Harrington, R. M.; Kiefer, A. M.; Mason, J. D.; Pigza, J. A.; Murphree, S. S. “A Sulfone-Based Strategy for the Preparation of 2,4-Disubstituted Furan Derivatives” J. Org. Chem. 2011, 76, 8131-8137. 

9. “Benzenemethanamine, α-Phenyl- and Benzenemethanamine, α-Phenyl-Hydrochloride”, Pigza, J. A. Electronic Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis, Crich, D.; Charette, A. B.; Fuchs, P. L.; Molander, G. Eds.; John Wiley & Sons Ltd.: Sussex, 2011.

10. Pigza, J. A.; Molinski, T. F. “Diastereoselective Allylstannane Additions to (S)-5,6-Dihydro-2H-5-phenyloxazin-2-one. A Concise Synthesis of β-Methylisoleucine.” Org. Lett. 2010, 12, 1256-1259.

11. “Ketene”, Pigza, J. A. First Update, Electronic Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis, Crich, D.; Fuchs, P. L.; Molander, G.; Paquette, L. A. Eds.; John Wiley & Sons Ltd.: Sussex, 2009.

12. Pigza, J. A.; Quach, T.; Molinski, T. F. “Oxazoline-Oxazinone Oxidative Rearrangement. Divergent Syntheses of (2S,3S)-4,4,4-Trifluorovaline and (2S,4S)-5,5,5-Trifluoroleucine.” J. Org. Chem. 2009, 74, 5510-5515.

13. Chandra, A.; Pigza, J. A.; Han, J.-S.; Mutnick, D.; Johnston, J. N. “Total Synthesis of the Lycopodium Alkaloid (+)-Serratezomine A.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 3470-3471.

14. Shafer, C. M.; Pigza, J. A.; Molinski, T. F. “Allyl Silane Additions to Highly Electrophilic 5,6-Dihydro-2H-1,4-oxazinones.”  Lett. Org. Chem. 2009, 6, 224-228.

15. “1-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidinone”, Pigza, J. A. First Update, Electronic Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis, Crich, D.; Fuchs, P. L.; Molander, G.; Paquette, L. A. Eds.; John Wiley & Sons Ltd.: Sussex, 2008.

16. “N-Iodosuccinimide”, Pigza, J. A. Second Update, Electronic Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis, Crich, D.; Fuchs, P. L.; Molander, G.; Paquette, L. A. Eds.; John Wiley & Sons Ltd.: Sussex, 2007.



  • 2015 NISE Network Mini-Grant supporting nanoscience at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at USM (April 8-10, 2015), award number GR05224, amount $3000, co-PI, “November 1, 2014 – August 31, 2015. (Collaborative proposal with PIs Tracy Englert and Stacy Creel and co-PIs Song Guo and myself).
  • Eppley Foundation Grant entitled “A Mechanistic Study of the Conversion of Esters to Ethers: Seeking a Tunable Protocol that Applies to both Aromatic and non-Aromatic Esters”, award number GR04988, amount $21,877, May 1, 2014 – June 1, 2015.
  • PSC-CUNY 44 Traditional B Award entitled “Acquisition of a Solvent Rotary Evaporation System for Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Research”, award number 66267-00 44, amount $2273.00, July 1, 2013 – August 31, 2013.
  • American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund grant (ACS-PRF) entitled “Development of Oxyallyl Silanes as Homoenolate Equivalents in the Oxidative Addition to Vinylogous Amides”, PRF# 51776-UNI1, amount $50,000, January 1, 2012 – August 31, 2013.
  • PSC-CUNY 42 Traditional B Award entitled “Oxyallyl Silanes as Homoenolate Equivalents: Synthesis and Addition to Electrophiles”, award number 64642-00 42, amount $5057.26, July 1, 2011 – December 30, 2012.

Courses Taught:

I have a taught a range of classes from large enrollment undergraduate classes at the freshmen level, upper level junior/senior courses, and graduate level specialized courses. I incorporate active learning components in my freshmen and sophomore courses, including the use of iClickers and inverted lectures. For all classes, I make sure to work plenty of practice problems with students so they can learn the problem-solving strategies inherent within the discipline.


Advanced Synthetic Organic Chemistry (Spring 2019, graduate only)

Medicinal Chemistry (Fall 2018, UG/G dual enrollment)

Spectral Elucidation of Structure (Spring 2014, 2015, Fall 2017, UG/G dual enrollment

Organic Chemistry I (Fall 2014, 2016, Spring 2017)

General Chemistry I (Fall 2015, Spring 2016, 2018)