Sarah Z Tasker Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Office Location: Hackman 415 (HAC415)



B.Sc. in Chemistry, Calvin College. Research under Prof. Carolyn Anderson and Prof. Chad Tatko.

Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research under Prof. Timothy Jamison.

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Research under Prof. Paul Hergenrother.


For more information, check out Tasker Lab website HERE.

Work in my lab is focused on building new small molecule tools to address real-world problems. One project area in the lab focuses on developing new gas-releasing molecules, which allow delivery of reactive and/or toxic gases (like carbon monoxide) for a variety of laboratory uses without the need for a gas tank. Another focuses on synthesizing natural products with reported antibacterial activity. We then make a wide range of novel derivatives of those compounds and test their activity against bacteria to determine their structure–activity relationships. A final area of research is in developing new synthetic organic methods to build more complex structures from alkenes, including investigating the mechanism of how these reactions happen. In all project areas, F&M undergraduate students are key partners in the success of this research, developing skills that range from modern synthesis and purification techniques, to reading the primary chemical literature, to communicating their results through reports and presentations.

Grants & Awards

At F&M College:

Organic Syntheses Research Grant for Faculty Prinipally Undergraduate Institutions
American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Undergraduate New Investigator Grant

Prior to F&M College:

HHMI Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship
MIT Presidential Fellowship
MIT Graduate Woman of Excellence Award
MIT Spot Award for Service to the School of Science
Goldwater Scholar
Beckman Foundation Scholar
National Merit Scholar
Howard Hughes MedicalInstitute Scholarship


F&M Undergraduate co-authors are in bold and corresponding authors are indicated with an asterisk. Equal author contributions are indicated by †

DeSimone, C. A.; Naqvi, S. L.; Tasker, S. Z.* ThioCORMates: Tunable and Cost-Effective Carbon-Monoxide Releasing Molecules. Chem. Eur. J. 2022, e202201326.

    • Two of these reagents are now available to purchase from Sigma-Aldrich: Phenyl thioCORMate (#930059) and p-NO2-phenyl thioCORMate (#930105)
    • Featured in Chemistry Views, New CO-Releasing Molecules. 5/30/2022.
    • Video demonstration of CO-release kinetics can be found here.


Kelly, A. M.; Berry, M. R.; Tasker, S. Z.; McKee, S. A.; Fan, T. M.; Hergenrother, P. J. Target-Agnostic P-Glycoprotein Assessment Yields Strategies to Evade Efflux, Leading to a BRAF inhibitor with Intracranial Efficacy. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 12367-12380.

Tasker, S. Z., Cowfer, A. E.; Hergenrother, P. J.* Preparation of Structurally Diverse Compounds from the Natural Product Lycorine. Org. Lett. 2018, 20, 5894-5898.

Gates, Z. P.; Viogradov, A. A.; Quartararo, A. J.; Bandyopadhyay, A.; Choo, Z.-N.; Evans, E. D.; Halloran, K. H.; Mijalis, A. J.; Mong, S. K.; Simon, M. D.; Standley, E. A.; Styduhar, E. D.; Tasker, S. Z.; Touti, F.; Weber, J. M.; Wilson, J. L.; Jamison, T. F.;* Pentelute, B. L*. ‘Xenoprotein’ Engineering via Synthetic Libraries. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2018, 115, E5298-E5306.

Hergenrother, P. J.;* Richter, M.; Riley, A.; Drown, B.; Chavez, M.; Tasker, S.; Garcia, A. Small-Molecules Active Against Gram-Negative Bacteria.International Patent WO2017/156519A1, Sept. 2017.

Tasker, S. Z.; Hergenrother, P. J.* Taming Reactive Benzynes. Nature Chem. 2017, 9, 504–506 (News & Views)

Tasker, S. Z.; Jamison, T. F.* Highly Regioselective Indoline Synthesis under Nickel/ Photoredox Dual Catalysis. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 9531–9534.

Standley, E. A.;† Tasker, S. Z.;†;Jensen, K. L.; Jamison, T. F.* Nickel Catalysis: Synergy between Method Development and Total Synthesis. Acc. Chem. Res. 2015, 48, 1503–1518.

Standley, E. A.;† Tasker, S. Z.;† Jamison, T. F.* Bis(1,5-cyclooctadiene)nickel(0). e-EROS Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published online Sept. 20, 2015.

Tasker, S. Z.;† Standley, E. A.;† Jamison, T. F.* Recent Advances in Homogeneous Nickel Catalysis. Nature 2014, 509, 299–309.

Tasker, S. Z.; Gutierrez, A. C.; Jamison, T. F.* Nickel-Catalyzed Mizoroki–Heck Reaction of Aryl Sulfonates and Chlorides with Electronically Unbiased Terminal Olefins: High Selectivity for Branched Products. Angew. Chem.,Int. Ed. 2013, 53, 1858–1861.

Tasker, S. Z.; Bosscher, M. A.; Shandro, C. A.; Lanni, E. L.; Ryu, K. A.; Snapper, G. S.; Utter, J. M.; Ellsworth, B. A.; Anderson, C. E.* Preparation of N-Alkyl 2-Pyridones via a Lithium Iodide Promoted O-to N-Alkyl Migration: Scope and Mechanism. J. Org. Chem. 2012, 77, 8220–8230.

Tasker, S. Z.; Brandsen, B. M.; Ryu, K. A.; Snapper, G. S.; Staples, R. J.; DeKock, R. L.;* Anderson, C. E.* Synthesis of a New Class of β-Iodo N-Alkenyl 2-Pyridones. Org. Lett. 2011, 13, 6224–6227.

Courses Taught

CHM112: General Chemistry II: Lecture & Lab

CHM211: Organic Chemistry I: Lecture & Lab

CHM212: Organic Chemistry II: Lecture & Lab

CHM376: Total Synthesis of Natural Products

In the News

F&M Team's Chemistry Discovery Goes Commercial

Biology, Psychology Interests Lead Researcher to Potential New Antibiotics