Professor Barbara Messerle

 Barbara Messerle

  Ph.D. University of Sydney, 1987
  Visiting Academic

  Executive Dean

  Faculty of Science and Engineering

  Level 2, E6A Building
  Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia

   +61 2 9850 9101,


Biographical Details

Ph.D. University of Sydney 1987. Postdoctoral Fellow ETH Zürich, Switzerland 1987-1989, Gritton Research Fellow, University of Sydney 1990-1991; ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellow 1992-1997, and ARC Senior Research Fellow 1997-1998, at the University of Sydney. ARC Senior Research Fellow 1999-2002, Senior Lecturer 2002-2003, Associate Professor 2004-2007, Professor 2008- at UNSW.

Research Interests

Organometallics and Catalysis

Enhancing the economic viability and energy efficiency of chemical transformations is of fundamental importance in the chemicals industry today. Organometallic catalysts are an important means of providing new and highly efficient routes for chemical processes, and the development of new transition metal catalysts for promoting the synthesis of key compounds is a major goal in the development of synthetic routes with minimum energy use. Our research program has made contributions to the design of new metal complexes for promoting key chemical reactions, and to the development of new methodologies for catalysed synthetic routes including the fundamentally important C-X bond forming reactions and multistep reactions. The work has provided new insights into highly accessible and efficient metal catalysts, including multimetallic systems. The work will ultimately improve the viability of the synthesis of important biologically active molecules and pharmaceuticals in the fine chemicals industry. In promoting the development of advanced NMR techniques in organometallic chemistry, our research has led to wider insights into catalyst structure and function.  

 Catalysing the synthesis of Heterocycles and Amines;

  • the formation of C-X bonds in heterocycles (X=N,O,S) via hydramination, hydroalkoxylation and hydrothiolation
  • the synthesis of amines via the hydrosilation and hydrogenation of imines

 Novel Organometallic Complexes;

  • Rh, Ir, Ru, and Fe complexes with mixed donor ligands (N donors, N-heterocyclic carbenes, phosphines)
  • immobilization of transition metal catalysts on carbon surfaces via robust C-C bonds

 New Approaches to Catalysed Multistep processes;

  • Two Step Dihydroalkoxylation
  • Tandem C−N and C−C bond formation
  • Tandem Hydroamination/Hydrosilation 

 Multimetallic Catalysts; 

  • Mixtures of catalysts for enhancing two step reactions
  • Bimetallic complexes with pairs of complexes held together on structurally constrained organic scaffolds 

NMR Spectroscopy for Structure and Mechanism in Organometallic chemistry.

  • Para-Hydrogen NMR for Signal Enhancement
  • NMR methods for structure analysis and determining mechanism in organometallic reaction pathways


Full details of these research projects are available at

Selected Publications

  • Sandra W. S. Choy, Michael J. Page, Mohan Bhadbhade and Barbara A. Messerle*, Cooperative Catalysis: Large Rate Enhancements with Bimetallic Rhodium Complexes, Organometallics, 2013, in press, om-2013-00613b.
  • Chin-Min Wong, Khuong Q. Vuong, Mark R. D. Gatus,Carol Hua, Mohan Bhadbhadeand Barbara A. Messerle*Catalysed Tandem C-N/C-C Bond Formation for the Synthesis of Tricyclic Indoles using Ir(III) Pyrazolyl-1,2,3-Triazolyl Complexes, Organometallics, 2012, 31 (21), 7500–7510,.
  • Carol Hua, Khuong Q. Vuong, Mohan Bhadbhade and Barbara A. Messerle New Rhodium(I) and Iridium(I) Complexes Containing Mixed Pyrazolyl-1,2,3-Triazolyl Ligands as Catalysts for Hydroamination, Organometallics, 2012, 31 (5),1790–1800
  • Joanne Hui Hui Ho, Sandra Choy, Stuart Macgregor, Barbara A. Messerle “Cooperativity in Bimetallic Dihydroalkoxylation Catalysts built on Aromatic Scaffolds: Significant Rate Enhancements with a Rigid Anthracene Scaffold”, Organometallics, 2011, 30(21), 5978–5984.
  • Torstein Fjermestad, Joanne H. H. Ho, Stuart A. Macgregor, Barbara A. Messerle, and Deniz Tuna, Computational Study of the Mechanism of Cyclic Acetal Formation via the Iridium(I)-Catalyzed Double Hydroalkoxylation of 4-Pentyn-1-ol with Methanol Organometallics, 2011, 30(3), 618-626.
  • Michael J. Page, Jörg Wagler, and Barbara A. Messerle “Pyrazolyl-N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes of Rhodium as Hydrogenation Catalysts: The influence of Ligand Steric Bulk on Catalyst Activity”, Dalton Trans, 2009, 7029-7038
  • Serin Dabb, Barbara Messerle,* Gottfried Otting, Jörg Wagler and Anthony WillisRuthenium Complexes of Substituted Hydrazine - Novel Solution and Solid State Binding Modes”, Chem Eur J.,14(32), 2008, 10058-10065
  • L. D. Field, B. A. Messerle,* K. Q. Vuong, and P. Turner, “Intramolecular Hydroamination with Rhodium(I), Iridium(I) Complexes containing a Phosphine, N-Heterocyclic Carbene Ligands”, Organometallics, 2005, 24, 4241-4250.
  • S. Burling, L. D. Field, B. A. Messerle, and P. Turner “Intramolecular Hydroamination Catalysed by Cationic Rhodium and Iridium Complexes with Bidentate Nitrogen-donor Ligands”, Organometallics, 2004, 23, 1714-1721,
  • L.D. Field, B.A. Messerle,* L.P. Soler, M. Rehr, and T.W. Hambley, "Cationic Ir(I) Complexes as Catalysts in the Alcoholysis of Silanes", Organometallics, 2003, 22, 2387-2395.
  • L. D. Field, B. A. Messerle,* and S. L. Wren "One-Pot Tandem Hydroamination/Hydrosilation Catalyzed by Cationic Iridium(I) Complexes", Organometallics, 2003, 22,4393-4395.
  • Suzanne Burling, Leslie D. Field and Barbara A. Messerle,* "Hydroamination of alkynes catalysed by a cationic rhodium complex", Organometallics, 2000, 19, 87-90.