Claire Castro

Claire Castro

Professor Emerita and Research Professor, Adjunct Professor

Part-Time Faculty


Claire Castro received her BA in Botany from UC Berkeley and her PhD in Organic Chemistry from UCLA. Her dissertation work focused on the synthesis of nucleoside analogs as anti-viral agents. After a short stint as a lecturer and post-doctoral scholar at UCLA, Claire joined the faculty at USF in 1994. Although she formally retired in 2017, she continues to teach on a part-time basis in the organic chemistry curriculum (the Medicinal/Synthetic Track). In addition, she, continues to work with her collaborator Professor William Karney and with undergraduate students to explore organic reaction mechanisms using computational tools. Their current work focuses on teasing out the contribution of heavy-atom tunneling in electrocyclization reactions. Their work is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Castro Lab

Research Areas

  • Physical organic chemistry
  • Computational Chemistry


  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

Prior Experience

  • Professor in Chemistry, USF
  • Chair, USF

Awards & Distinctions

  • University of San Francisco, Art Furst Award, 2020

  • University of San Francisco, Distinguished Research Award, 2006-2007

  • University of San Francisco, Distinguished Teacher Award, 1999-2000

  • Saul Winstein Dissertation Year Award

Selected Publications

  • [USF undergraduate students in bold]

  • Castro, C.; Karney, W. L.; "Heavy-Atom Tunneling in Organic Reactions," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 202059, 8355-8366. (Minireview)

  • J. K. Arbitman, C. S. Michel, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* "Calculations Predict That Heavy-Atom Tunneling Dominates Möbius Bond Shifting in [12]- and [16]Annulene," Org. Lett. 2019, 21, 8587-8591.

  • C. S. MichelP. P. LampkinJ. Z. ShezafJ. F. Moll, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* "Tunneling By 16 Carbons: Planar Bond Shifting in [16]Annulene," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019141, 5286-5293. 

  • S. Luo, A. J. Kuhn, I. Castano, C. Castro, and W. L. Karney,* "Hydrogen Shifts in Aryl Radicals and Diradicals: The Role of m-Benzynes," J. Org. Chem. 2018, 83, 314-322.

  • E. E. Irace, E. Brayfindley, G. A. Vinnacombe, C. Castro,* and W. L. Karney,* "Stone–Wales Rearrangements in Hydrocarbons: From Planar to Bowl-Shaped Substrates," J. Org. Chem. 2015, 80, 11718-11725.

  • M. B. Pastor, A. J. Kuhn, P. T. Nguyen, M. V. Santander, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* “Hydrogen Shifts and Benzene Ring Contractions in Phenylenes,” J. Phys. Org. Chem2013, 26, 750-754. (invited article for special issue on ISRIUM 2012).

  • M. V. Santander, M. B. Pastor, J. N. Nelson, C. Castro*, W. L. Karney,* "Hückel and Möbius Bond-Shifting Routes to Configuration Change in Dehydro[4n+2]annulenes," J. Org. Chem. 2013, 78, 2033-2039 (invited article for Howard Zimmerman Memorial Issue).

  • C. Castro,* W.L.Karney,* Mechanisms and Möbius Strips: Understanding Dynamic Processes in Annulenes" (mini review), Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry, 2012, 25, 611-730.

  • M. V. Santander, M. B. Pastor, J. N. Nelson, C. Castro, W. L. Karney, Hückel and Möbius Bond-Shifitng Routes to Configuration Change in Dehudro[4n+2]annulenes, J. Org. Chem., 2012 Article ASAP, DOI:10.1021/jo302072p

  • L. A. Januar, V. Huynh, T. S. Wood, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* "Dehydro- [12]annulenes: Structures, Energetics, and Dynamic Processes," J. Org. Chem., 2011, 76, 403.

  • T. Okoronkwo, P. Nguyen, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* "[14]Annulene: Cis/Trans Isomerization via Two-Twist and Nondegenerate Planar Bond Shifting and Möbius Conformational Minima," Org. Lett., 2010, 12, 972.

  • M. Braten, M. G. Gutierrez, C. Castro,* W. L, Karney,* "[12]Annulene Radical Anions Revisited: Evaluation of Structure Assignments Based on Computed Energetic and Electron Spin Resonance Data," J. Org Chem., 2008, 73, 8745-8754.

  • C. Castro,* W. L. Karney, E. Noey, K. P. C. Vollhardt,* "Competing Isomerizations of [12]Annulenes: Diels Alder Reaction vs. Electrocyclization," Org. Lett., 2008, 10, 1287.

  • M. B. Braten, C. Castro,* R. Herges,* F. Köhler, W. L. Karney,* "The [12]Annulene Global Minimum," J. Org. Chem., 2008, 73, 1532-1535.

  • J. F. Moll, R. P. Pemberton, M. G. Gutierrez, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* "Configuration Change in [14]Annulene Requires Möbius Antiaromatic Bond Shifting," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2007, 129, 274-275.

  • R. P. Pemberton, C. M. McShane, C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* "Dynamic Processes in [16]Annulene:  Möbius Bond-Shifting Routes to Configuration Change," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2006, 128, 16692-16700.

  • C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* C. M. McShane, and R. P. Pemberton, "[10]Annulene: Bond Shifting and Conformational Mechanisms for Automerization," J. Org. Chem., 2006, 71, 3001-3006.

  • C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* M. A. Valencia, C. M. H. Vu, R. P. Pemberton, "Möbius Aromaticity in [12]Annulene: Cis-Trans Isomerization via Twist-Coupled Bond Shifting," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2005, 127, 9704-9705.

  • C. Castro,* W. L. Karney,* C. M. H. Vu, S. E. Burkhardt, M. A. Valencia, "Computational Evaluation of the Evidence for Tri-trans-[12]Annulene," J. Org. Chem., 2005, 70, 3602-3609.

  • C. Castro,* Z. Chen, C. S. Wannere, H. Jiao, W. L. Karney,* M. Mauksch, R. Puchta, N. J. R. van Eikema Hommes, P. v. R. Schleyer,* "Investigation of a Putative Möbius Aromatic Hydrocarbon. The Effect of Benzannelation on Möbius [4n]Annulene Aromaticity," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2005, 127, 2425-2432.