Class of 2009

Konstantinos (Kostas) Goulas

Kostas was born in London and grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece. He got his Diploma in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where he worked on the assessment of biofuels for non-road applications. Continuing at the same vein, he is working on heterogeneous catalysis for diesel fuel production from small oxygenates. Outside the lab, he likes playing basketball and soccer and enjoying the nature in the Bay Area.

Miles Johnson

Miles was born and raised in lovely Akron, Ohio. Tired of hearing about Lebron James, he fled to the University of Richmond where he worked on Mukaiyama aldol-type reactions under Prof. Wade Downey. After four years, Miles realized that transition metals and liberalism were the ways of the future, and so came to Berkeley.

Hunter Shunatona

Hunter grew up in Texas, moved to UNC-Chapel Hill for college, and then came out west for grad school. He can be described via his ideal Jeopardy categories: What to do in case of zombie outbreak; The Mars Volta; Futurama; Project Mayhem; Films by Coen Brothers, Danny Boyle, and Wes Anderson; Esoteric References and Quotes; Shark Week; and Science-ing 101.

Chen Zhao

Chen grew up in China before moving to the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. He finished his last year of high school in Cupertino, California before moving down to La Jolla to attend UCSD. Now he is a joint student with the Bergman and Raymond groups.

Class of 2011

Dimitri Khrakovsky

Dimitri grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended the University of Chicago where he worked on asymmetric aldol chemistry under Prof. Hisashi Yamamoto. Outside of lab, he enjoys playing tennis, sampling the diversity of Berkeley dining, and attending concerts. He hopes to one day become a tower of chemistry like his colleagues in the Toste group.

Dillon Miles

Dillon obtained his B.S. from Rice University in 2011, exploring new applications of carbon nanotubes under the guidance of Prof. Zachary Ball. After having his fill of Texas barbeque and humidity, he has returned to the west coast to continue his studies in the area of asymmetric gold (I) catalysis. When not in lab, he enjoys the entertaining sciences of meteorology and StarCraft.

Andrew Neel

After growing up in scenic Wichita, Kansas, Andrew reluctantly migrated eastward to UNC- Chapel Hill for college where he did his undergraduate research with Jeff Johnson working on asymmetric annulations involving strained cycloalkanes.  Armed with his newly-learned southern charm, Andrew decided to brave Berkeley for grad school.  When not in lab, he enjoys distance running, basketball and nice cold PBR.

Jigar Patel

Jigar was born and raised in New Jersey, arguably the best state in the country.  He completed his undergrad at Northwestern working on enzyme inhibitors with Professor Richard Silverman.  He then came to Berkeley and joined the Toste group (completing his westward migration).  Outside of chemistry, he likes the Eagles, but only when they are winning. 

Willie Wolf

Willie is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. He attended the University of Minnesota where he worked with Professor Andy Harned on the synthesis of chiral organocatalysts and with Professor John Ellis on the synthesis of low-valent polyarene metal complexes. Shrouded in the mystery of the Great North Woods, he came to Berkeley to learn a thing or two about chemistry in the Toste group. He hopes to climb a redwood tree someday.

Class of 2012

David Kaphan

Mark Levin

Mark was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the University of Rochester as an undergrad where he worked on oxidative Nazarov cyclization chemistry under the direction of Professor Alison Frontier. Having had his fill of harsh upstate NY winters, he migrated westward to Berkeley to join the Toste group. Outside of lab, he enjoys playing guitar poorly and sampling regional beers.

Drew Samant

Drew grew up in San Diego. He graduated from UCSD in 2008, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. After that, he tried his hand at numerous exciting pursuits, including peptide manufacturing, database maintenance, medicinal chemistry, and unemployment. Now, at long last, he is safely returned to the warm embrace of the University of California system.

Rebecca Triano

Rebecca grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a city known almost entirely for being home of "The Office". She left the Electric City for the Bronx to attend Fordham University, where she worked on the synthesis and environmental applications of dendrimers with Dr. Amy Balija. After four years, she left the East Coast for Berkeley and joined the Toste group.

Class of 2013

Cynthia Hong

At Northwestern University, Cindy worked on the development of a three-component reaction for the synthesis of thienopyrroles with Dr. Alexander Statsyuk. Since then, she's headed west to work on her PhD at UC Berkeley as a joint student in the Toste and Raymond groups. Like any true Texan, Cindy enjoys barbecue and beer, fiercely hot summers, and Korean dramas.

Richard Thornbury

Richard was born and raised just outside Toledo, Ohio.  He left the Glass City for the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign where he worked on enantioselective phase transfer catalysis with Professor Scott Denmark.  Upon graduation in 2013, Richard came to Berkeley and joined the Toste group.  Outside of lab he enjoys all things sports, fishing, CBS’s Survivor, and Tony Packo’s.


Hiroaki Chiba

Hiroaki Chiba was born in Japan and grew up in Hiroshima. He completed his undergraduate degree in 2008, and then started his PhD studies under Prof. Fujii and Prof. Ohno at Kyoto University. His thesis, completed in 2013, was on the total synthesis of tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloids via gold-catalyzed hydroamination. In 2013, he joined the Toste group as a postdoc working on the development of novel asymmetric reaction using gold catalyst. At Berkeley, he enjoys the fine weather, international cultures, lots of delicious food, and lab-life with nice colleagues.

Derek Dalton

Derek grew up in the prairie outside Denver, CO. After earning a B.A. in religion from Colorado College, he transitioned to the "dark" side and completed a B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Colorado Denver. Reluctant to leave the majestic Rocky Mountains, he pursued graduate studies with Tomislav Rovis at Colorado State University developing chiral rhodium catalysts for the enantioselective synthesis of N-heterocycles. Having thoroughly explored the Colorado front range, Derek made a pilgrimage west to join the Toste group at UC Berkeley, where he studies supramolecular Ga4L6K12 complexes as artificial-enzyme mimics in collaboration with the Raymond and Bergman groups.

Talita Fernandes

Talita was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She obtained her PhD from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro working in palladium catalyzed reactions under the supervision of Prof. Paulo Costa. During her doctorate education, she also had the opportunity to spend one year with Prof. Carmen Njera (University of Alicante, Spain) where she learned about Organocatalysis. She joined the Toste group in 2013 as a postdoc and is studying asymmetric metal catalyzed reactions.

Gorkem Gunbas

Gorkem grew up in Ankara, Turkey and earned his B.S. and M.Sc. degrees in Chemistry from Middle East Technical University. He developed novel conducting polymers toward electrochromic device applications. He was then awarded a scholarship from the Turkish Higher Education Council to study abroad in the US. He joined the group of Prof. Mark Mascal at the University of California, Davis for his Ph.D studies. He focused on the synthesis of fundamentally interesting molecules such as oxadionium ions and tricyclic oxonium species with a record long C-O bonds. Now in the Toste Group, Gorkem is pursuing ways for developing chemical catalysis for biofuels and commodity chemicals.

Ying He

Ying was born in Jilin, China and completed both of his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Nanjing University of Science and Technology under the supervision of Prof. Chun Cai with a focus on heterogeneous catalysis. In December, 2012, he became a research assistant at Nanjing Unversity with the Prof. Guigen Li. In June 2013, he joined the Toste group as a postdoctoral fellow working on gold chemistry as well as enjoying the good weather in Berkeley.

Takahiro Horibe

Takahiro was born and raised in Toyota, Japan. He earned his undergraduate degree from Nagoya University in 2008, and continued his PhD studies at Nagoya University working with Prof. Kazuaki Ishihara. After obtaining his PhD on developing asymmetric reactions catalyzed by Li(I) or Mg(II) binaphtholate, he joined Prof. Toste’s group in 2013. Now he enjoys gold catalysis as well as unique Berkeley life, people, culture, food and beer.

Gajendrasingh Ingle

Christian Jacobsen

Hiroyuki Kawai

Hiroyuki was born and raised in Aichi, Japan. He obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Nagoya Institute of Technology (NIT) in 2008. In 2012, he earned his Ph.D. degree with Prof. N. Shibata in NIT, working on the asymmetric trifluoromethylation reactions and the synthesis of biologically active fluorine compounds based on organocatalysis. In 2013, he joined the Toste group as a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow to investigate gold catalysis in beautiful California.

David Nagib

David grew up in the suburbs of Philly and earned a B.S. in Chemistry at Boston College '06, working with Prof. Scott Miller to desymmetrize diols via small peptides. He then earned his Ph.D. with Prof. David MacMillan at Princeton University '11, developing several new trifluoromethylation reactions by employing organocatalysis as well as photoredox catalysis. As an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof F. Dean Toste, David is developing new reactivity through oxidative gold mechanisms.

Hosea Nelson

Hosea grew up in San Francisco. After earning a degree in chemistry from UC Berkeley, he moved to sunny Pasadena for his graduate studies under the tutelage of Brian Stoltz. After 5 unbearably hot summers,  he earned a doctorate for his work on the total syntheses of the transtaganolide natural products. With a strong desire to further his training in methods development, and to occasionally be cold, he returned to the UC Berkeley to join Prof. Toste's Lab.

Dani Peri

Dani grew up in Rehovot, Israel and earned a B.Sc. in chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After a few months of vacation at the sandy beaches of Thailand he decided it's time to earn his Ph.D., so he joined Prof. Edit Y. Tshuva's group at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and developed water stable and anti-cancer active titanium(IV) complexes. After a postdoc with Prof. Omar M. Yaghi studying MOF chemistry, he is now a postdoc in the Toste lab, exploring metal-assisted self-assembled supramolecular clusters while climbing at nor cal's pristine crags.

Xingzhong Shu

Xingzhong was born and grew up in Zhejiang, China. He earned his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Yongmin Liang at Lanzhou University in 2010, developing new synthetic methods based on cyclization reactions using gold, platinium, palladium catalysts and hypervalent iodine reagent. He then moved to The University of Wisconsin-Madison as a post-doc, working on rhodium- catalyzed 5+2 reactions under the supervision of Prof. Weiping Tang. In 2012, he joined the Toste group as a post-doc to explore the beauty of Gold catalysis and Transition-metal Nanoparticles catalysis.

Sanil Sreekumar

Sanil was born in Mumbai, India. After completing his MSc in Chemistry, he joined for PhD under Prof. P. Andrew Evans at University of Liverpool, UK in 2006. His PhD work was on the total synthesis of a nortriterpenoid (Lancifodilactone G) using transition metal catalyzed carbocyclization reactions. In the Toste group, Sanil plans to develop chemical catalysts for biofuels and lignin breakdown and modification.

Brett Williams

Brett was raised in the hills of rural Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to Philadelphia to work with Prof. Amos B. Smith, III at the University of Pennsylvania where he completed the total synthesis of (+)-18-epi-Latrunculol A, and earned his Ph.D. in the Fall of 2013. After completing his tour of Pennsylvania, Brett relocated to the Bay Area and joined the Toste group at UC Berkeley, where he is currently studying the chemistry of Gold(III).

Matt Winston

Matt Winston was born in Miami and completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University. Quickly learning that beautiful New England autumns give way to intolerably cold, dark winters, he relocated to perpetually sunny southern California to pursue a doctorate degree in organometallic chemistry with John E. Bercaw at Caltech. At UC Berkeley, Matt is investigating the utility of chiral gold catalysts in redox cycles as a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow.

Chung-Yeh Wu

Chung-Yeh was born and grew up in Taiwan. He received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from National Taiwan University and M.S. in National Tsing Hua University. After obtaining his Ph.D. from National Taiwan University under Prof. Ying-Chih, Lin in organometallic chemistry, he spent a year at NTU as a Postdoc fellow in the lab of Prof. Pi-Tai, Chou. In 2011, he joined the Toste group to explore the beauty of asymmetric Gold catalysis and attractive California.

Tao Wu

Tao was born and raised in Anhui, China. He obtained his B. Sc. at Beijing Normal University, where he conducted organometallic chemistry research on nickel catalyzed C-O activation under the supervision of Prof. Zhangjie Shi (Peking University). He then worked with Prof. Guosheng Liu at SIOC to pursue a Ph.D. degree starting in 2007. His graduate work mainly focused on palldium catalyzed difunctionalization of alkenes. In 2013, he joined the Toste group as a postdoc and began his new adventure in the field of organocatalysis.

Xiaoyu Yang

Xiaoyu was born and raised in Suzhou, China. He obtained his B. Sc. at Nanjing University in 2007. He then moved to Shanghai Institue of Organic Chemisty to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Professor Biao Yu's lab. His Ph.D. work was focused on the total synthesis of complex natural glycoconjugates, namely Landomycins and Jadomycins. In 2013, he joined the Toste group as a postdoctral to learn about asymmetric catalysis.

Weiwei Zi

Weiwei was born and raised in Hunan, China. He obtained his B. Sc. at Lanzhou University, where he conducted some work on nano-chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Haoli Zhang. In 2006, he changed his interest to the organic chemistry and entered Prof. Dawei Ma's group at SIOC to pursue a PhD degree. His PhD work was on the total synthesis of natural product, GB 13 and Vincorine. Now He joins the Toste group as a postdoc and enjoys learning about the gold chemistry.

Visiting Scholars

Hongmiao Wu