About Jim

About Jim

James Lincoln Leighton

Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University.


February 12, 1964 in New Haven, Connecticut


Jim received his Ph. D. in 1994 from Harvard University, where he studied under Professor David A. Evans. He graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1987 with a B.S. in chemistry, studying under Professor Samuel J. Danishefsky.

Research Interests

Organic synthesis including the design, implementation and mechanistic elucidation of stereoselective catalytic reactions and the total synthesis of biologically active and structurally interesting natural products.


Jim did undergraduate research at Yale University with Professor Samuel Danishefsky. After graduating cum laude in 1987, he went to work as a chemist at Merck Sharpe & Dohme Research Laboratories in West Point, PA with supervisor Dr. Ben Evans. He continued his studies at Harvard University under the advisement of Professor David A. Evans, graduating in 1994. Jim continued at Harvard as an NSF Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Eric N. Jacobsen until joining the faculty at Columbia University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1996. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1999 and has been a full professor since 2004.

Honors and Awards

2009Mark van Doren Teaching Award, Columbia University (Student Selected)
2003Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, American Chemical Society
2002Pfizer Award for Creativity in Organic Chemistry
2002Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
2000Sloan Research Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
1999Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Award, School of General Studies, Columbia University
1999Glaxo Wellcome Chemistry Scholar Award
1999AstraZeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award
1999Eli Lilly Grantee Award
1999Cottrell Scholar Award, Research Corporation
1999Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Award in Synthetic Organic Chemistry
1994National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
1992ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Graduate Fellowship
1991Squibb Predoctoral Fellowship
1991Warner-Lambert National Merit Scholarship