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.
cmh206 [at]

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.
r.thornbury [at]

Aya Buckley

Aya was born in Japan and grew up in the great state of New Jersey. She attended Columbia University, where she studied the surface chemistry of CdSe nanocrystals in the group of Prof. Jonathan Owen. She also spent a summer synthesizing dinickel complexes for ethylene polymerization in the group of Prof. Theodor Agapie. She traded New York bagels for San Francisco sourdough and moved to Berkeley, where she works with Dr. Francesca Toma and Prof. Toste at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis in developing nanoparticulate systems for CO2 reduction.
akbuckley [at]

Class of 2014

Patrick Bohan

Patrick was born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill and did his undergraduate research working on the palladium-catalyzed C-H alkylation of aromatic systems with Dr. Erik Alexanian. After graduating in 2014, Patrick headed out west to begin his graduate studies at Berkeley, where he joined the Toste group. When not in lab, he enjoys being outdoors and relaxing with his pals.
pbohan [at]

Alec Christian

Alec grew up in scenic Salem, CT. He attended Wake Forest University and performed undergraduate research with Dr. Paul Jones. While attending Wake Forest, he worked as an intern at Pfizer in Groton, CT, working on methodology and the mechanism of the Ni-catalyzed Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling with Dr. Jotham Coe and Dr. Sebastien Monfette, respectively. After graduating, he made the move to the best coast and joined the Toste lab in 2015. In his free time, Alec likes to limber up on his foam roller, listen to Motown, and watch Duke lose.
alec.christian [at]

Suhong Kim

Suhong was born and grew up in Goyang, Korea. When he was at Seoul National University, he worked on the development of ruthenium vinylidene catalysis with Dr. Chulbom Lee. Before starting his career as a Ph.D at Seoul., he really wanted to live in the United State for a while. So, he visited UT Austin as an exchange student and worked with Dr. Simon M. Humphrey. After having a fantastic year at Texas, he decided to pursue a doctoral degree at the west coast! Outside of lab, he enjoys both playing and watching basketball.
suhong [at]

John Lee

John grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He left the Midwest to study at the University of Southern California as an undergrad where he worked on the synthesis of perovskite nanoparticles with Dr. Richard Brutchey. After graduating in 2014, John came to Berkeley and joined the Toste group. Outside of lab, he enjoys watching Archer, playing tennis, and playing Settlers of Catan.
johnsl [at]

Julie Rorrer

Julie was born and raised in Corvallis, Oregon. She graduated with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Arizona State University in the Spring of 2014, where she worked on amorphous photocatalysts for water splitting under the direction of Dr. Candace Chan. Julie joined the Toste group in the Fall of 2014 at the Energy Biosciences Institute and is co-advised by Professor Alexis Bell in Chemical Engineering. Her research is focused on the catalytic conversion of biomass to liquid fuels and lubricants. Outside of the lab she enjoys painting, playing the violin, and the outdoors.
jrorrer [at]

Class of 2016

Edward "Wonderbread" Miller

Ed was born and raised in the wide open countryside of Brooklyn. Growing tired of the lazy small town vibe of NYC, he moved out to Long Island to attend Stony Brook University and perform undergraduate research for Prof. Melanie Chiu, working on the synthesis of photoswitchable catalysts for copolymer microstructure control. In 2016, he took the plunge and moved across the country to attend UC Berkeley and join the Toste lab. In his free time he enjoys grabbing a beer with friends, browsing dank memes, and hiking.
edwardmiller [at]

Mariko Morimoto

Mariko was born in Osaka, Japan, and spent time in both Japan and North Carolina growing up. She obtained her B.S. in chemistry at Emory University, working on the development of novel benzoisothiazolone organocatalysts in the lab of Dr. Lanny Liebeskind. Although she will always love the south, she made the move to Berkeley after graduation and became a joint student in the Toste and Raymond groups. Outside the lab, she enjoys playing the piano, eating chicken nuggets, and trying out different kinds of coffee.
mmorim2 [at]

Thomas O'Connor

Thomas was born in Lorain, Ohio and grew up in Kansas City, MO. Deciding to leave the Midwest, he attended Vassar College located in Poughkeepsie, New York. At Vassar College, he conducted his senior thesis under Professor Tanski. In 2016, Thomas obtained his BA in Chemistry and made the leap to the West Coast, hoping to escape the cold, dark winters he had grown so fond of since childhood. In the Toste Lab, Thomas's main interests are in developing novel catalytic methods as well as exploring unusual organometallic reactivity.
thoconnor [at]

Charles Winslow

Chuck was born and raised in the suburbs of St. Louis. He left the home of the Cardinals to go south and do his undergrad at Georgia Tech, thinking he’d be close to the ocean before realizing that Atlanta is still 4 hours away from a beach. At Tech, he majored in Chemical Engineering and researched the mechanisms of different antioxidants in polymer processing under Dr. Charles Liotta. Once he got out of Tech, he decided to inch his way closer to the ocean and head west to Berkeley where he joined the Toste Group.
charles.winslow [at]

Class of 2017

Stephen Bierschenk

Stephen was born and raised just outside of Austin, Texas. He attended Texas A&M University, where he studied molecular gyroscopes in the group of Professor John A. Gladysz. After graduating in 2016 he left the Lone Star state to become a student in the Toste group at Berkeley. In his free time he enjoys being outside and watching Fightin’ Texas Aggie Football.
stephen_bierschenk [at]

Banruo Huang

Banruo was born and raised in Shanghai, China. He attended Shanghai Jiao Tong University and got his B.S. in Chemistry with highest honors. As an undergraduate at SJTU, he conducted research on palladium catalysis with professor Wanbin Zhang. In 2016, he traveled across Pacific Ocean to be a visiting student at Berkeley. At Berkeley, he worked on organocatalysis and mechanistic studies in the lab of professor F. Dean Toste, as well as supramolecular chemistry, collaboratively with professor Kenneth N. Raymond. Wishing to be a bear for a little longer, he moved back to Berkeley and joined Toste Group as a graduate student. Outside the lab, he enjoys music, swimming and traveling.
banruohuang [at]

Megan Neubig

Megan grew up in Columbus, Ohio. In an effort to get out of the midwest, she attended Smith College in western Massachusetts where she completed her senior thesis on natural product isolation and derivatization under Professor Shea. She also briefly worked in the Toste group in the summer of 2016 on the C(sp3)-CF3 reductive elimination from Au(III). Now she's back in Berkeley to finish what she started and drink more beer.
mneubig [at]


Trandon Bender

Trandon was born and raised in Utah (if your asking yourself ... no). He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Tired of the dry heat and beautiful mountains, he set out to pursue graduate work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There he worked with Mike Gagné on the selective modification of carbohydrates and natural products. Missing the freedom of the West he joined the Toste and Raymond lab in 2017 as a Postdoctoral researcher to think about supramolecular chemistry and its applications towards catalysis. To get away from lab Trandon enjoys hanging out with his family, riding bikes, and drinking beer (preferably at the same time).
tbender [at]

Mario Ellwart

Mario was born and raised in Munich, Germany. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and joined the group of Prof. Paul Knochel for his doctorate in 2014. As graduated student, he studied preparation methods and reactions of salt stabilized organozinc reagents for the functionalization of aromatics, heteroaromatics, and allylic compounds. In 2017, he joined the Toste group as a DFG Postdoctoral Fellow to learn about asymmetric catalysis. Outside of the lab he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and snowboarding.
mellwart [at]

Mingyou Hu

Mingyou was born in Sichuan, China. He obtained his BSc degree at Southwest University in 2008. Then he moved to Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC) to continue his PhD study. In 2013, he got his PhD degree under the supervision of Prof. Jinbo Hu. After a 2-years' postdoc programme with SIOC and Merck, he joined the Toste group as a postdoc in 2015. Outside the lab, he enjoys the beautiful seaview at bay area.
mingyouhu [at]

Ilia Kobylianskii

Ilia was born and grew up in Vladivostok, Russia. At the age of 13, he and his family moved to Saint-Petersburg, Russia where he attended lyceum 239 followed by Saint-Petersburg State University where he received his diploma in organic chemistry. He decided to pursue his PhD degree at ETH Zurich with Prof. Peter Chen where he studied gas-phase reactivity of organic and organometallic molecules. Now Ilia is an SNF postdoctoral fellow at UCB. And yes, he knows how to drive a tank.
ilia.k [at]

Christine Le

Christine was born in Calgary, Alberta, but spent most her life in southern Ontario. She attended Western University as an undergrad and moved to the University of Toronto for graduate studies. Christine obtained a M.Sc. degree with Professor Vy Dong, working on Rh-catalyzed hydroacylation. She then decided to pursue Ph.D. in the group of Professor Mark Lautens, where she worked mainly on palladium-catalyzed carbohalogenation. Tired of the cold and snowy winters, Christine migrated to the Bay Area, where she is now an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Professor Dean Toste.
cmle [at]

Junqi Li

Junqi was born and raised in Singapore. She received her B.Sc and M.Sc from National University of Singapore under the supervision of Prof. Shao Q. Yao. In 2009, she moved to Illinois to pursue graduate studies with Prof. Martin Burke, working on the iterative cross-coupling of MIDA boronates. In 2016, she joined the Toste lab as a postdoctoral researcher to explore new catalytic reactions.
junqili [at]

Javier Miro Arenas

Javi was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1988. He received his BSc in Chemistry in 2011 from the Universitat de València. In 2013, he completed his MSc in Experimental and Industrial Organic Chemsitry, and started his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Santos Fustero and Dr. Carlos del Pozo. As a graduate student, he worked on developing new transition metal-catalyzed methodologies, establishing organofluorine chemistry as the benchmark application. He also carried out internships in the groups of Prof. Toste (Berkeley), Prof. MacMillan (Princeton) and Prof. Akiyama (Gakushuin). In 2017, after completing his PhD at the Universitat de València, he returned to the Toste group as a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow. In his free time he enjoys live music, sports, going to the cinema, and grabbing a beer with friends.
jmiroarenas [at]

Spencer Scholz

Spencer grew up in rural northwestern NJ before heading up north to do his undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont–Burlington, where he earned a BS in Chemistry and BA in Neuroscience in 2011. He then joined the lab of Tehshik Yoon at The University of Wisconsin–Madison and completed his graduate studies on novel triplet sensitized cycloaddition reactions. Looking to switch out the persistent polar vortex and Vitamin D deficiency for some year round sunshine, Spencer joined the Toste group in 2017 to investigate new strategies for targeting “undruggable” proteins.
soscholz [at]

Cheng-Che Tsai

Cheng-Che was born and raised in Hsinchu, Taiwan. He received his B.Sc and M.Sc from Chung Yuan Christian University, working on the development of glycolipid-based gelators with Prof. Yow-Fu Tsai. Then he decided to pursue his Ph.D. in the lab of Prof. Chien-Tien Chen at National Tsing Hua University, where he studied enantiodivergent reactions using photoswitchable catalysts. In 2017, he joined the Toste lab as a postdoc to learn about chiral anion phase-transfer catalysis. Outside the lab, he enjoys jogging and cycling.
chengchetsai [at]

Baihua Ye

Baihua was born in Guangdong, China. He received his Master in Chemistry from Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland in 2010. In the same year he started his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Nicolai Cramer at EPFL. His thesis focused on the development of chiral cyclopentadienyl ligands for enantioselective Rh(III)-catalyzed C-H functionalizations. After completing his doctoral studies, he joined the Toste group in 2015 as a SNF-Postdoctoral Fellow to work on the field of chiral counter-anion catalysis. [at]

Patti Zhang

Patti grew up next to the beautiful mountainside in the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area. After high school, she went to Texas where she ate BBQ and breakfast tacos to her heart’s content and, on the side, attended college. She started her undergraduate degree at Baylor University and finished at UT Austin where she worked in the lab of Professor Stephen F. Martin on natural product synthesis. Continuing east, Patti joined the MacMillan lab at Princeton University in 2012 to work on the development of new cross-coupling methods, specifically copper and metallaphotoredox catalysis. To escape the humidity, Patti moved back west to start a postdoc with the Toste group. In her spare time, Patti likes eating. When she can, she likes to get out to southern Utah where she can’t get enough of the natural red rock arches and canyons.
pattizhang [at]

Jie Zhao

Jie was born in Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang, China. After receiving her B.S. and M.S. in Capital Normal University under the supervision of Prof. Shengli Cao, she moved to Tsinghua University. Her Ph.D. studies in the groups of Prof. Yufen Zhao and Prof. Hua Fu focused on catalytic copper reactions. Then she joined Prof. Yadong Li's group to study nanoparticle catalyzed organic reactions. Now, she is working on exploring the catalytic properties of gold nanoparticles. Outside the lab, Jie likes playing tennis and basketball.
zhaojie [at]

Alex Zhukhovitskiy

Alex was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Chicago when he was eleven. As an undergraduate, he attended Northwestern University, where he studied chemistry and mathematics and was introduced to chemistry research in the groups of Tobin Marks and SonBinh Nguyen. Subsequently, Alex completed his doctorate at MIT: supervised by Jeremiah Johnson, he studied the surface chemistry of persistent carbenes and harnessed supramolecular cage chemistry to develop new polymer metallogels. For his postdoctoral work, Alex moved to UC Berkeley to join the Toste group, where he will learn more about gold chemistry and catalysis. In his spare time, Alex enjoys fishing, playing guitar and exploring Northern California with his wife.
alexzhuko [at]

Visiting Scholars

Roxanne Jacob

Roxane was born and raised in Mulhouse, France. She received her B.Sc. in 2016 from the Albert-Ludwig University in Freiburg, Germany, working on the study of reverse electron transfer in complex I with Prof. T. Friedrich. She then decided to pursue a M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry in Freiburg. She joined the Toste group in 2018 as a visiting scholar to explore new catalytic reactions. In her free time she enjoys hiking, being outdoors and relaxing with her friends.

Hsin-Hui Lin

Hsin-Hui was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She obtained her B.S. at National Hsinchu University of Education (2008). She then received her M.S. at National Taiwan Normal University (2011) and pursued her Ph. D. under the supervision of Prof. Ming-Chang Yeh. Her work focused around iron-promoted cyclization reactions. In March 2017, she joined the Toste group as a visiting student researcher. When she’s not in the lab, she enjoys reading and playing basketball in her free time.

Suren Nemat

Having grown up in a small city in the smallest state of Germany, Suren decided to pursue his studies in a place with an exotic language. So he moved to Switzerland to obtain his B.Sc and M.Sc degrees in Chemistry from ETH Zurich. But before finishing his M.Sc, he wanted to spent some time in a country with a comprehensible. Therefore he came to UC Berkeley to join the Toste lab as a visiting scholar and work on his master thesis. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, hiking and cooking.

Lukas Zeisel

Lukas grew up in the beautiful city of Regensburg in Bavaria and started pursuing his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry at LMU Munich in 2014. He performed his undergraduate research in the group of Prof. Klapoetke focusing on the synthesis of energetic transition metal complexes using nitrogen-rich heterocycles as ligands. Right after graduating in 2017, Lukas joined the Toste group as a visiting scholar to do research on homogenous gold(III) catalysis. Outside the lab he is a passionate soccer player and enjoys listening to music & being outdoors.

Rotation Students

Audrey Reeves

Audrey was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Not yet ready to say goodbye to sweet tea, BBQ, and breakfast tacos, she attended college at SMU where she worked in the lab of Dr. Alex Lippert developing fluorescent sensors for biologically relevant reactive species. At UC Berkeley, Audrey is a member of the Chem Bio program and chose the Toste group as her third rotation to continue attempting to balance her interests in organic synthesis and biology. She is currently working on developing novel methods to target amino acids in “undruggable” proteins. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Berkeley, playing guitar, and knitting.