Brian O'Brien


Professor in Chemistry

Brian O'Brien received his B.S. degree in Chemistry (ACS) from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1975, and received his Ph.D. from the same institution in 1980, for research on organophosphorus chemistry and oxidations of organic compounds by chromium(VI) reagents.  His postdoctoral research was in main-group fluorine chemistry with Professor Darryl D. DesMarteau at Kansas State University.  O'Brien continued his work with Prof. DesMarteau at Clemson University as a visiting faculty member before joining the faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College in 1985. He regularly teaches organic chemistry (introductory, advanced, and research technniques), and inorganic chemistry, in addition to intermittent teaching of First Term Seminar and Special Topics.

O'Brien and his students do research in a variety of areas.  The major area of activity at present is preparation and chemistry of acylphosphines and acylphosphides, and the use of these species for preparation of highly fluorinated alkyl- and arylphosphines.  One goal of this research is transformation of the phosphines into new fluorous ions for preparation of new ionic liquids.

Other areas of interest include chemistry of [1.1.1]propellane, development of experiments for Organic Chemistry (introductory and advanced) and Inorganic Chemistry courses, coordination chemistry of high-valent osmium and rhenium, development of membranes for fuel cell applications, and preparation and reactions of phosphaalkynes (R-CP).

Interests outside of chemistry include plants (particularly orchids, aroids, xerophytes, and Minnesota native plants), cheeses, wines, and other comestibles, cooking, and many other things.  One outcome of the interest in plants was the acquisition of seeds of Amorphophallus titanum (a giant aroid), resulting ultimately in the blooming of Perry the Corpse Flower in 2013, 2010 and 2007 (see Linnaeus Arboretum blog entries).  Thousands of people visited Gustavus during each of the flowerings.


B.S. 1975 Georgia Institute of Technology, Ph.D. 1980 Georgia Institute of Technology

Courses Taught


CHE-258 (Inorganic Chemistry I) and CHE-258 (Inorganic Chemistry I Lab)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
CHE-258Inorganic Chemistry I Lab262015/SP, 2014/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, 2006/SP, 2005/SP, 2004/SP, 2002/SP, 2001/SP, 2000/SP, and 1999/SP
CHE-251Organic Chemistry II Lab252015/FA, 2014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2010/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, 2005/FA, 2004/FA, 2003/FA, 2001/FA, 2000/FA, and 1999/FA
CHE-258Inorganic Chemistry I172015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, 2006/SP, 2005/SP, 2004/SP, 2002/SP, 2001/SP, 2000/SP, and 1999/SP
CHE-375Organic Chemistry III102015/FA, 2014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2006/FA, 2005/FA, 2003/FA, and 2000/FA
CHE-399Chemistry Seminar72013/SP, 2012/FA, 2004/SP, 2003/FA, 2002/SP, 2001/SP, and 2000/FA
CHE-344ST:Our Global Ocean72012/FA, 2011/SP, 2007/SP, 2006/SP, 2002/SP, 2000/SP, and 1999/SP
CHE-260Organic Research Tech62010/JN, 2008/JN, 2006/JN, 2004/JN, 2002/JN, and 2001/JN
CHE-251Organic Chemistry II52010/FA, 2007/FA, 2004/FA, 2001/FA, and 1999/FA
FTS-100First Term Seminar22006/FA and 2005/FA
GEO-344ST:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
PHY-344AT:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
BIO-344ST:Our Global Ocean12012/FA
CHE-268Career Exploration12006/JN

Courses prior to Spring semester 1999 are not displayed.