Will Pearson

Will Pearson’s career includes successful stints in both the academic and industrial domains of chemistry. He is a gifted teacher, an expert analyst, and a masterful communicator.

Read on

Academic Career

Will Pearson was a professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan from 1984 to 2003, where he ran a well-funded, internationally-recognized, award-winning program in synthetic organic chemistry, specializing in heterocyclic chemistry and the construction of alkaloids and other medicinally significant molecules.  His trainees typically gained positions in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are now involved in drug discovery and development programs.  He was an award-winning teacher at all levels in the areas of organic chemistry, heterocyclic chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry, and physical organic chemistry.

Industrial Experience

Will was a consultant at chemical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural companies for most of his academic career.  Post-academia, he was the executive responsible for research and development activities at a company specializing in nucleic acids, oligonucleotide reagents, fluorescent probes, and heterocyclic compounds.  He is now the principle at Pearson Chemistry Solutions, which offers industrial training courses and consulting services in organic and heterocyclic chemistry.


Will’s scientific mentors were Ernest Eliel (B.S. at UNC), Barry Trost (Ph.D. at Wisconsin), and Sam Danishefsky (NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale).  While a professor at Michigan, he was recognized for his research and scholarship with numerous awards, including an A. C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society and the Katritzky Award in Heterocyclic Chemistry from the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry.  He also received awards for his teaching, mentoring, and innovative efforts in chemical education.  His scientific activities included numerous consulting arrangements in industry, stints on advisory panels at the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health, and the organization of numerous scientific meetings.  He has given lectures on his research at over a hundred universities, companies, and scientific meetings, and his bibliography includes over 120 research papers, reviews, books, and patents.

Industrial courses

Will Pearson has presented over seventy courses on heterocyclic chemistry at companies around the world, most of them in collaboration with Professor Al Padwa from Emory University.  He has also presented an industrial course on advanced organic chemistry with Professor Brian Coppola of the University of Michigan.  His current course offerings include “Heterocyclic Chemistry:  A Drug-Oriented Approach,” a solo effort with a more specialized and preparatively-oriented scope.

His signature strengths are his curiosity, his ability to bring clarity from chaos, and his love of sharing knowledge with others. He is a gifted teacher, an expert analyst, and a masterful communicator.  Will’s course offerings reflect his process:  He employs his curiosity to embrace a complex area, delve deeply into it, distill it into a useful body of knowledge, and craft it into a form that allows him to share it with perspective, insight, and clarity.  He keeps his audience in mind throughout the process, allowing him to get the message across clearly and provide value to the company.

The Heterocyclist Blog

Will’s career-long fascination with heterocyclic chemistry has led him to publish a blog on that subject.  It features new chemistry, insights and perspectives on the field, anecdotes, and whatever he finds to be interesting about the topic.

Visit The Heterocyclist Blog

Coaching:  Science Leadership with Character

Scientists are rarely trained to be leaders but often find themselves in that position.  What support exists for scientists to become exceptional leaders?  A company may send a scientist to a nearby business school for leadership training; they may even contract for a leadership coach.  But these trainers and coaches are very rarely scientists.  One of Will’s passions is stepping into that gap.  He combines his science background, his years of mentoring and leadership, and his long-standing interest in humanity and leadership excellence to provide highly effective one-on-one support for leaders in the sciences.  He has studied what measurable, validated leadership phenomena correlate with a climate of collaboration and innovation.  Science leaders benefit greatly from the support of a scientific peer, a leader, and an intuitive, grounded, trustworthy, inspirational, and transformational advisor.

Visit Will’s Coaching Site

Other Services

Will also offers consulting and expert witness services.


Download Will Pearson’s Bibliography


RSS Heterocyclist Blog

  • Regioselective synthesis of 3- and 5-aminopyrazoles August 6, 2015
    Just a bit of sodium ethoxide does the trick … The Knorr pyrazole synthesis, broadly defined, involves the condensation of hydrazines with 1,3-dielectrophiles, e.g., 1,3-diketones, beta-ketoesters, alpha-cyanoketones, beta-alkoxyacrylonitriles, alkoxymethylenemalonates, etc. When a nitrile electrophile is involved, an aminopyrazole typically results, producing compounds that are very useful in the pharmaceutical field. The first two equations in the […]

Follow on LinkedIn