I am happy to respond to the invitation to recall my experience with the PRF grant program. In 1974, I began as an Assistant Professor at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. I received a PRF Type G Starter Grant, which provided summer research stipends for the years 1975, 1976 and 1977. There was even enough funds remaining to provide a student stipend for the summer of 1978. I am very grateful for this financial support, which helped me to launch my independent research career. During each academic year, I supervised one or two students, who were carrying out their senior research projects as undergraduate chemistry majors. During the summers, I was able to advance the projects further on my own. During this period, I initiated work on two related research projects. The first entailed an investigation of the role of thiosulfoxides as reaction intermediates. Although phosphine sulfides are well-known stable species, the related thiosulfoxides are kinetically unstable at ordinary temperatures. I believe that we were able to provide the first convincing evidence of the role of these species as intermediates. We also examined a series of aryl allyl sulfoxides and demonstrated that the rearrangement pathway to disulfides could be favored by using electron-withdrawing aryl groups (like para-nitrophenyl) to stabilize the thiosulfoxide intermediate, slowing the competing pathway of spontaneous desulfurization. We were able to publish three communications in Tetrahedron Letters reporting on these results. There were five student co-authors on these papers: Sylvia Kourou Daley, Barbara Daly, Kathleen McGlynn, Alayne Schroll and Lynn James San Filippo. In later years, Alayne completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, and Lynn completed her Ph.D. at New Mexico State. During 1977-78, the final year of my PRF grant support, I initiated a spin-off investigation of [1,3]-allylic rearrangements. We completed the first systematic study of thermal [1,3]-allylic rearrangements in a structurally related series of sulfides, sulfoxides and sulfones. These results were also published in a Tetrahedron Letters communication, this one with three student co-authors: Lisa Deuring, Pamela Bentley and Susan Fisk. Lisa went on to complete her Ph.D. at Columbia University. Kathleen used her PRF stipend during the summer of 1978 to develop HPLC methods, enabling us to distinguish among our sulfides, disulfides, sulfoxides and sulfones. Over the subsequent years, I remained in periodic touch with all of these former research students. During the year approaching my retirement from Russell Sage in 2010, I corresponded with all eight of these women, who all had distinguished careers, built upon their chemistry backgrounds.
Dr. Raymond D. Baechler, Russell Sage College, Troy, NY