Patrick Holland

Research Interests


The Holland group studies compounds containing inexpensive metals like iron and cobalt, with the goal of understanding their reactions in detail and increasing their potential for use in catalysis. We do this by preparing new molecules that are highly reactive. In some cases, the compounds have weak metal-ligand multiple bonds, and in others there are open sites for reactions on the metal. We specialize in compounds where the metal has very few bonds, and have done many detailed studies on this rare and exciting type of compound.

A major part of our research program has focused on iron complexes for nitrogen fixation. This is relevant to the industrial Haber-Bosch process for fertilizer production, and to nitrogenase, the natural enzyme that converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. Other research in our laboratory has addressed solar production of hydrogen, catalytic alkene and fluorocarbon reduction, redox-active ligands, engineered metalloproteins, and fundamental organometallic mechanisms. More detail on our research is available at the Holland Group Web site.

Our research provides an interdisciplinary training environment that develops students’ skills in synthesis, biological inorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, mechanistic techniques, and spectroscopy.


A.B. Princeton University, 1993
Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, 1997
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota, 1997-2000


NSF CAREER Award, 2002
Sloan Fellowship, 2003
Fulbright Scholar, 2012
Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, 2013
Fellow of the AAAS, 2014
Bessel Award from the Humboldt Foundation, 2016
Xingda Lecturer, Peking University, 2017

Recent Publications

I. Čorić, B. Q. Mercado, E. Bill, D. J. Vinyard, & P. L. Holland. Binding of dinitrogen to an iron-sulfur-carbon site. Nature 2015, 526, 96-99.

P. L. Holland. Reactoin: Opportunities for Sustainable Catalysts. Chem 2017, 2, 443-444.

S. F. McWilliams, E. Bill, G. Lukat-Rodgers, K. R. Rodgers, B. Q. Mercado, P. L. Holland. Effects of N2 Binding Mode on Iron-Based Functionalization of Dinitrogen to Form an Iron(III) Hydrazido Complex. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 8586-8598.

S. M. Bhutto, P. L. Holland. Dinitrogen Activation and Functionalization using ß-Diketiminate Iron Complexes. Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2019, 1861-1869.

D. Kim, S. M. W. Rahaman, B. Q. Mercado, R. Poli, P. L. Holland. Roles of Iron Complexes in Catalytic Radical Alkene Cross-Coupling: A Computational and Mechanistic Study. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 7473-7485.

A. L. Speelman, I. Coric, C. Van Stappen, S. DeBeer, B. Q. Mercado, P. L. Holland. Nitrogenase-Relevant Reactivity of a Synthetic Iron-Sulfur-Carbon Site. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 13148-13157.

D. E. DeRosha, V. G. Chilkuri, C. Van Stappen, E. Bill, B. Q. Mercado, S. DeBeer, F. Neese, P. L. Holland. Planar three-coordinate iron sulfide in a synthetic [4Fe-3S] cluster with biomimetic reactivity. Nature Chem. 2019, 11, 1019-1025.