Anna J. Smith

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry

B.S., Chemistry, summa cum laude, West Virginia State University, 2003

Ph.D., Chemistry, The University of Texas at Austin, 2009

J.D., The George Washington University Law School, 2013

Research Spotlight

My chemistry research interests are in the area of synthetic organic chemistry.  In particular, I am interested in making novel compounds of biological significance.  I am currently working  on synthesizing a variety of novel, flavonoid derivatives that are potential anti-aging compounds.  In collaboration with the Washington College biology department, these compounds are being tested in yeast to determine if they delay cellular senescence.  Senescence is a hallmark of aging characterized by a cell’s inability to continue dividing.  My goal is to discover compounds that will delay or stop the aging process.

In addition to chemical research, I am interested in the intersection of chemistry and the law.  I have a background in patent law and am fascinated by exploring the complex and controversial relationship between drug commercialization and patenting.  In particular, I am interested in looking at patent evergreening within the pharmaceutical industry and its impact on drug prices. 


Representative Publications:

  • Doctoral Dissertation: Development of Methodologies Employing Rhodium Catalysis and Studies Toward the Total Synthesis of Cortistatin A, 2009.
  • “Enantioselective Conjugate Addition Employing 2-Heteroaryl Titanates and Zinc Reagents,” Organic Letters, 2009, pp. 4200-4203.
  • “Features and Applications of [Rh(CO)2Cl]2-Catalyzed Alkylations of Unsymmetrical Allylic Substrates,” Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2007, pp. 9018-9031.
  • “[Rh(CO)2Cl]2-Catalyzed Domino Reactions Involving Allylic Substitution and Subsequent Carbocyclization Reactions,” Organic Letters, 2005, pp. 1661-1663.

My love for teaching took me out of working in the private sector and back to academia.  I have found this transition to be highly rewarding and relish spending my days in the classroom and not in an office. 

Chemistry can be an intimidating subject and many students come to class with a high level of anxiety and insecurity about their ability to do well in it. Therefore, I do my best to maintain a friendly and fun classroom as well as remain approachable outside of class.  Towards this end, I have an open-door philosophy and try to make personal connections with students wherever possible.  I have found that if the students find me personally approachable, they also find the material more approachable.

I also try to focus on active participation in class.  Most students get bored with the traditional lecture format; therefore, I use a combination of lecture, in-class practice, and memory exercises. 

I teach Chemical Principles of Organic Molecules (CHE 120) and Reactions of Organic Molecules (CHE 140).

Professional Experience

Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Washington College, 2017-present.

Adjunct Chemistry Professor, Washington College, 2016-2017.

Scientific Advisor &  Attorney in the private sector, 2012-2015.

Judicial Intern for Chief Judge Randall Rader, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 2012.

Teaching Specialist, The University of Texas at Austin, 2010.

Editorial Assistant for Tetrahedron–an Elsevier organic chemistry journal, 2005-2007.

Awards and Honors:

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship  A three-year pre-doctoral fellowship totalling $121,500 awarded via a nationally competitive process
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Graduate Fellowship in Organic Chemistry            
  • The University of Texas at Austin Faraday Fellowship Award In recognition of exemplary teaching assistantship