My lab duties consist primarily with organic chemistry. Essentially, I look up reactions in many different types of literature, read them to find the methods for the reaction I want, and sent it to by adviser to review, that way they can keep up-to-date with the work I’m doing, and they can check if the reaction I’m doing require any extra safety.
Recently, I found a particular reaction (Buchwald-Hartwig cross-coupling reaction), and we attempted to use it to create an ether linkage between aryl groups. However, because of the electronics of the starting material we were using (and other high level chemistry even I’m not too sure about), the reaction didn’t work (the failed product depicted below).
After explaining what I thought was my failure to my adviser, he explained to me that even if you do your homework, if you look up the appropriate articles and do the research, sometimes the reactions still don’t work out. And the only thing you can do it go back to the virtual drawing board that is chemical literature and start again.