- To design methodologies that will allow researchers to directly correlate the results of adaptive control experiments with physiochemical control pathways in arbitrary complex molecular systems it is imperative that prototype systems are developed and that exigent control pathways are understood. We have been interested in the results of adaptive control experiments in our laboratory involving the maximization of a ratio of two experimental observables: (1) the thermalized emission from the solution-phase coordination complex [Ru(dpb)3](PF6)2 and (2) the second harmonic signal (a purely intensity-dependent phenomenon) of the shaped laser fields. Using a rational pulse shaping strategy, we have made a measurement of the ratio spectrum (in essence the two-photon absorption cross section) for the molecule [Ru(dpb)3](PF6)2 in a room temperature solution of acetonitrile. This spectrum is highly varied across the accessible two-photon power spectrum of our broad-band laser pulses and demonstrates the existence of a control pathway wherein a shaped laser field can manipulate excited-state population (with respect to SHG) by conforming to the second-order spectral response of the molecule in solution. We show that our adaptive control algorithm is capable of taking advantage of these control pathways using simulated adaptive control experiments. Finally, we measure second-harmonic spectra of shaped laser fields discovered during an adaptive control experiment and show that these agree with simulation. These results suggest that our adaptive control experiment can be understood in the context of the elucidated spectral control pathway.