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Richard Morrison

Blurred image of a green laser used as background for stylistic purposes.
Distinguished Professor
Director, Organic Chemistry Education
  • BS Chemistry University of Utah
  • Ph.D. Organic Chemistry University of Utah
  • Post Doc University of Texas at Austin
  • Research Associate University of Colorado Boulder
Research Interests:

We are currently engaged in the development of organic methodologies toward the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Our recently patented methodology for the decarboxylation of natural and synthetic amino acids utilizes microwave promotion to yield bioactive amines. This work is supported by Innovation Gateway at UGA and the Georgia Research Alliance.

                                                                         RWM Figure 1

Our natural product synthetic efforts focus on the total synthesis of Isoabietenin A.  Isoabietenin A is a promising synthetic target because of its inclusion of a five membered epoxide ring between rings A and C, the first known example of this epoxide inclusion.  Colophony (obtained from the distillation of these pine resins) remains the primary source of abietanes. 

                                                RWM Figure 2                                      RWM Figure 3


Our organic chemistry-based engineering research targets the development of Rotaxane-based metal organic frameworks(MOFs) for use as molecular switches. 

                             RWM Figure 4              RWM Figure 5      

Pedagogical research in our group involves the use of classroom response systems (clickers) to study decision pathways employed by students in problem-solving.  The elucidation of organic reactions and pathways often involves a series of decision points, much like branches in logic decision trees.  Each option at a decision point is associated with a unique letter or number which may, for example, represent a synthetic reagent or a locant on a parent chain.  Using their clickers, students submit a series of alphanumeric characters which describes the decision pathway they followed to solve the problem.   We are currently developing a databank of these series response questions that provide insight into student problem-solving strategies. 

                                                       RWM Figure 6                                                RWM Figure 7

The production of new multi-outcome experiments (MOEs) for the undergraduate laboratory curriculum is another challenging area of effort in the Morrison group.  Experiments that require students to develop logical and analytical skills are essential to the undergraduate laboratory.  This is accomplished by introducing “unknown” reagents or substrates into the experiment.  The introduction of “unknowns” allows students to perform standard procedures while obtaining unique results.  Importantly, these experiments must be 1) economical; 2) safe; 3) reproducible; and 4) able to be performed in a standard 3-hour laboratory period.  A MOE variation of the Williamson Ethers Synthesis laboratory experiment is shown.

Reaction Scheme:

                   RWM Figure 8

Unknown Alkyl Halides:

                   RWM Figure 9

Selected Publications:


Morrison, R., & Caughran, J. (2015). Returning Written Assignments Electronically: Adapting Off-the-Shelf Technology To Preserve Privacy and Exam Integrity. J. Chem. Educ, 1254-1255.

Morrison, R., & Jackson, D. M. (2015). Rapid Conventional and Microwave-Assisted Decarboxylation of L-Histidine and Other Amino Acids via Organocatalysis with R-Carvone under Superheated Conditions. Synthetic Communications.


Morrison, R. W., Caughran, J. A., & Sauers, A. L. (2014). Classroom Response Systems for Implementing Interactive Inquiry in Large Organic Chemistry Classes. Unknown Journal, 91, 1838-1844. doi:10.1021/ed300688d


Morrison, R. (2012). CHEM 2212L Organic Chemistry II Laboratory Manual. Hayden McNeil Publishing.Morrison, R. (2009). Interactive Inquiry in Large Lectures Using Classroom Response Systems. In STEM Institute. Columbus State University: STEM.


Morrison, R. W. PowerPoint Lecture Outline to Accompany Organic Chemistry with Biological Applications 2011.

Morrison, R. (2011). CHEM 2211L Organic Chemistry I Laboratory Manual. Hayden McNeil Publishing.

Morrison, R. (2011). Art in the Unseen World. In Cortona Research Presentation. Cortona, Italy: UGA Cortona.


Morrison, R. (2009). Interactive Inquiry in Large Lectures Using Classroom Response Systems. In MAALACT Annual Meeting. Washington College: MAALACT.

Morrison, R. (2009). The Chemistry of Paper. In UGA Studies Abroad - Cortona, Italy. Cortona, Italy: UGA.


Morrison, R. W. ; Atwood, C. H. ; Caughran, J. A. Survival Guide for General, Organic, and Biochemistry with Math Review; 1st ed.; Thomson Brooks/Cole: San Francisco, 2008; p. 176.

Morrison, R., & Sauers, A. (2008). In-Lecture Guided Inquiry for Large Organic Chemistry Classes. In Bienniel Conference on Chemical Education. Bloomington, IN.

Morrison, R. (2008). Survival Guide for General, Organic and Biochemistry. Cengage Publishing.


Nine, R. D. ; Clark, N. N. ; Mace, B. E. ; Morrison, R. W. ; Lowe, P. C. ; Remcho, V. T. ; McLaughlin, L. W. Use of soy-derived fuel for environmental impact reduction in marine engine applications. Transactions of the ASAE 2000, 43, 1383 - 1391.


Mace, B. E. ; Nine, R. D. ; Clark, N. N. ; Vanyo, T. J. ; Remcho, V. T. ; Morrison, R. W. ; Mclaughlin, L. W. Emissions from marine engines with water contact in the exhaust stream. Society of Automotive Engineers, [Special Publication] SP 1998, SP-1335, 277 - 286.

Articles Featuring Richard Morrison
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 - 10:42am

Dr. Richard Morrison, associate professor of Chemistry, has been named a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, the university’s highest recognition for excellence in instruction.

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