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Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center, 3023
Phone: +1-508-831-5224
Fax: +1-508-831-4116

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Shawn C. Burdette

Shawn Burdette was born in Charleston, W.Va., and grew up on the banks of the Elk River just a few miles away from the Elk Refinery, which was the first commercial ethylene plant in the world. After graduating from high school, Burdette enrolled at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he earned his BS in chemistry in 1997. As an undergraduate, he worked in the labs of John D. Protasiewicz on multiple bonding between main group elements stabilized by sterically demanding ligands. He then moved to Boston, where he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study bioinorganic chemistry. He earned his PhD in 2003 under the direction of Stephen J. Lippard, working on zinc metalloneurochemistry and fluorescent sensors.

Following his graduate career, Burdette traveled across the country to Berkeley, Calif., to study dendrimers in the laboratories of Jean Fréchet at the University of California, Berkeley as an NIH postdoctoral fellow. Since beginning his independent career in 2005, Burdette has supervised the completion of four PhD theses and mentored more than 10 undergraduate researchers. He finds helping students adapt their academic training to their future careers particularly rewarding. His undergraduate students have gone on to graduate school in top 10 chemistry programs, as well as other professional and medical schools, to jobs in the chemical industry and to teaching at the secondary school level.

In the classroom, Burdette enjoys trying innovative methods to engage students and developing their writing and analytical thinking skills. Integrating research interests into the classroom can help to enhance student learning, and he has developed and published novel classroom exercises. Burdette's research spans several frontier areas of research, including chemical synthesis, polymer chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, photochemistry, and neurological sciences. He is particularly enthusiastic about bridging the gap between traditional chemistry and its application to biological questions. His group is uniquely positioned to develop fluorescent sensors and photocaged complexes that are potentially valuable to researchers in several field of biology, as well as be directly involved in the application of these molecular tools to problems in biological signaling and disease. The group has recently developed several photocaged complexes that are being used to map zinc-based signaling pathways in cells.

Research Interests

  • Synthetic chemistry 
  • Photochemistry
  • Polymer chemistry 
  • Bioinorganic chemistry
  • Neuroscience


  • BS, Case Western Reserve University, 1997
  • PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, 2002-2005

Featured Publications

  • H. M. Dhammika Bandara, Shannon Cawley, José A. Gascón, Shawn C. Burdette. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2011, 2916–2919.
  • H. M. Dhammika Bandara, Timothy P. Walsh, and Shawn C. Burdette. Chem. Eur. J. 2011, 17, 3932–3941.
  • H. M. Dhammika Bandara, Tracey R. Friss, Miriam M. Enriquez, William Isley, Christopher D. Incarvito, Harry A. Frank, Jose Gascon, and Shawn C. Burdette. J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 4817–4827.
  • H. M. Dhammika Bandara, Daniel P. Kennedy, Elf Akin, Christopher D. Incarvito, and Shawn C. Burdette. Inorg. Chem. 2009, 48, 8445–8455
  • Daniel P. Kennedy, Chad M. Kormos, and Shawn C. Burdette. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 8578–8586.
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