Edward M. Burgess

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Edward M. Burgess
Edward M. Burgess pictured in Namaqualand, South Africa.  Burgess is wearing a dark blue-green jacket and is carrying a camera strapped around his neck (tourist style).  His left arm is positioned across his chest with his left hand on his right shoulder. Burgess is looking directly into the (active) camera with a slight smile.  In the background are numerous mountainous peaks breaking to a pale blue sky at the top of the photo.  At approximately shoulder height the green vegetation in the foot hills gives way to an expanse of orange-red flowers.
September 2001; Namaqualand, South Africa
Born 1934
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Nationality American
Fields Chemist
Institutions Yale University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Alma mater Auburn University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor George Büchi
Doctoral students Anthony Joseph Arduengo III
Known for Burgess Reagent

Edward Meredith Burgess (born 1934) is an American chemist. He specialized in organic chemistry with an emphasis on methodology, structure, and photochemistry. He is best known for the Burgess reagent (methyl N-(triethylammoniumsulfonyl)carbamate) that is used for selective dehydration of alcohols.[1][2]

Professor Burgess served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Organic Division of the American Chemical Society from 1974 to 1977.[3]


Edward Meredith Burgess was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1934. He attended Shades Valley High School in that city and was awarded the school's science award upon graduation in 1951. During the summers of his junior and senior high school years he obtained a job performing routine chores at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Biochemistry. It was during this period at UAB that Burgess began his career in chemical research. Under the guidance of the noted carbohydrate chemist, William Ward Pigman, he was given his own research project, the “Anhydrous Reaction of Nitrogen Dioxide with some Selected Sugars.

In 1952 Burgess was awarded an NROTC scholarship and entered Auburn University with a dual major in chemistry and physics. During his undergraduate years at Auburn he undertook research in the laboratories of Frank Stevens (Chemistry) on the Synthesis of Indole Derivatives useful as Plant Growth Regulators and Howard Carr (Physics) on the construction of a mass spectrometer. He obtained his B.Sc. Degree (cum laude) in 1956.

From 1956-1959 Burgess served as an officer aboard the US Navy destroyer, USS Stormes (DD-780), a ship assigned to both the U.S. Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets.


Graduate research[edit]

As a graduate student in the Büchi group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Burgess's research focused largely on synthetic organic chemistry and photochemistry. His doctoral dissertation was titled “Photochemical isomerization of eucarvone and cyclooctatrienone; Studies toward the synthesis of samandarin.”[4] An interest in photochemistry and synthetic methodology would mark many of Burgess's contributions to chemistry. In addition to his publications with Professor Büchi connected with his dissertation,[5][6] Burgess also published independently on the epoxidation of chloestadienone.[7]


  1. ^ Atkins, G. M.; Burgess, E. M. (1968). "The reactions of an N-sulfonylamine inner salt". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 90: 4744–4745. doi:10.1021/ja01019a052. 
  2. ^ Edward M. Burgess; Harold R. Penton Jr.; E. A. Taylor (1973). "Thermal reactions of alkyl N-carbomethoxysulfamate esters". J. Org. Chem. 38 (1): 26–31. doi:10.1021/jo00941a006. 
  3. ^ ACS Organic Division Archive. - Retrieved 2010-12-28.
  4. ^ Edward M. Burgess (1962), Photochemical isomerization of eucarvone and cyclooctatrienone; Studies toward the synthesis of samandarin. Ph.D. Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Online catalog entry. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  5. ^ G. Büchi; E. M. Burgess (1960). "Photochemical reactions. IX. Isomerization of eucarvone.". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 82 (16): 4333–4337. doi:10.1021/ja01501a052. 
  6. ^ G. Büchi; E. M. Burgess (1962). "Photochemical reactions. X. Experiments with 1,3,5-cyclooctatrien-7-one, and cyclooctatetraene epoxide.". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 84 (16): 3104–3109. doi:10.1021/ja00875a014. 
  7. ^ E. M. Burgess (1962). "4,5β-Epoxycholest-1-en-3-one.". J. Org. Chem. 27 (4): 1433–1434. doi:10.1021/jo01051a501.