Hadas Shalit Peleg, a native of Beer Sheva, the capital of the Negev desert in southern Israel, studied at the regional agricultural high school Eshel HaNasi, where she concentrated in chemistry. After four years of service in the Air Defense Command of the Israeli Air Force, she started her BSc in chemistry with an organic chemistry orientation at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. During her combined MSc and PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Doron Pappo, her main goal was to develop an array of iron-catalyzed oxidative cross-coupling reactions of phenols. Using computational methods such as DFT and electrochemical techniques such as cyclic voltammetry, Hadas was able to establish methods for direct and selective cross-coupling by identifying the unique mechanistic features of these reactions. Rationally navigating between the different catalytic systems has opened the way to creating a collection of diverse complex phenol-based materials by simple and sustainable means. In the past year, her drive to address complex mechanistic questions has led Hadas to expand her areas of interest to include the enantioselective cross-coupling of phenolic derivatives.
In her postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Anat Milo at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, starting in October 2020, Hadas will focus on designing organocatalytic enantioselective benzoin cross-coupling reactions. The experimental work in this project will harness an innovative secondary-sphere modification strategy, wherein dynamic-covalent bonds enable the in situ modification of catalyst structures during the reaction. This strategy will be supported by the development of machine-learning techniques for rationally designing a large library of catalysts and for the prediction of reaction outcomes.