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.

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

Danger Dave

Dave went to high school in Exeter, NH, but not the good high school in Exeter, NH. He then completed his undergraduate studies at Rochester, where he attained a slightly lower GPA than Mark Levin did. Dave joined the Toste group in 2013. Dave is considered to be one of the group's top four graduate students in his year. Dave likes foosball, dinosaurs, and medium-length walks on the beach.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 and Alivisatos groups. Outside of lab, he enjoys watching Archer, playing tennis, and playing Settlers of Catan.

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.

Class of 2015

Laura Sofen

Laura graduated from Carleton College in 2010. She then returned to her native state of Massachusetts to work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute studying marine microbial signaling with Dr. Ben Van Mooy. After participating in research cruises in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, she moved to the land between the seas, Panama, where she lived and worked for three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She is a joint student in the Toste and Raymond groups.

Post-Docs

Carolina Avila

Carolina was born and raised in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). In 2010, she moved to State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) to start her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Ronaldo Aloise Pilli. Her graduate work was focused on the total synthesis and structural elucidation of polyketides, and asymmetric aldol chemistry. She joined the Toste group in 2015 as a post-doc to learn about asymmetric catalysis. Outside of lab she enjoys samba, barbecue, beer and the unique Berkeley life.

Souvagya Biswas

Souvagya grew up in Kolkata, India. He got his bachelors degree in Jadavpur University, Kolkata and masters degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India. In 2010, he moved to United States to pursue doctoral studies in organic chemistry. He joined Prof. RajanBabu research group at The Ohio State University in 2011, where his graduate work was mainly focused on asymmetric catalysis of carbon carbon bond forming reactions using sustainable feedstock ethylene. After the completion of his doctoral studies in December 2015, he decided to move from cold Columbus to sunny San Fransisco to join the Toste lab to learn about biomass derived biofuels and lubricants. When not in lab, you can find him watching tennis and soccer or enjoying the beauty of nature at National parks.

Johnathan Brantley

John was born in Kentucky and completed a B.S. degree in chemistry from Western Kentucky University in 2010. John pursued his doctorate at UT Austin under the mentorship of Christopher Bielawski, where he explored the mechanical activation of polymeric materials. Following the completion of his degree in 2014, John joined the Toste laboratory at UC Berkeley. His current research efforts focus on developing new strategies for the synthesis of olefin monomers from biological feedstocks.

Jianbin Chen

Jianbin was born in Shandong, China. He received his B.Sc. degree in chemistry at Xinzhou Normal University 2010 and then, he earned his M.Sc. degree in organic chemistry at Wenzhou University in 2013 under the guidance of Prof. Jiang Cheng in China. He then joined the group of Prof. Matthias Beller for his Ph.D. at the Leibniz-Institute for Catalysis at the University of Rostock (LIKAT) in Germany, where he mainly focused on carbonylation reactions by utilizing homogeneous catalysts. During 2016, he moved to the Toste group at UC Berkeley as a Postdoc to explore biomass-based transformations by homo- and/or hetero-geneous catalysts. Out of lab, he likes to play basketball and traveling.

Jaime Coelho

Jaime was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry from Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal. He then moved to the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, where he earned his Ph.D. with Prof. Carlos A. M. Afonso in 2014 and pursued one year studies as postdoctoral researcher. In 2016 he joined Toste group to learn about asymmetric catalysis. Outside of lab, he is always in to do all kinds of sports and taste new beer.

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.

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.

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 Ph.D. study. After completing his Ph.D. in 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Jinbo Hu, he joined a SIOC and Merck joint postdoc programme under the supervision of Prof. Jinbo Hu and Dr. Yongxin Han. His research involved studies on the synthetic application of diazo compounds in organofluorine chemistry. In 2015, he joined the Toste group as a postdoc with SIOC fellowship to study gold(III)-catalyzed asymmetric reactions.

Steve Jacob

Steve was raised in Buffalo, NY and earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Le Moyne College in 2009. He then moved to the University of Rochester and earned his Ph.D. with Alison Frontier. His research was focused on developing a scalable synthesis of rocaglamide and cyclization reactions initiated by 1,6-conjugate addition. In August 2015 he joined the Toste group developing methods to convert biological feedstocks into olefin monomers. Outside of lab Steve enjoys hopelessly rooting for the Bills, trying local beers and being outdoors.

Roman Kazantsev

Roman grew up in San Francisco, got his Bachelors in Chemistry for UC Davis, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in Chicago. As a graduate student, Roman studied the self-assembly of solution dispersible organic crystals for photocatalytic applications. Outside the lab he enjoys being in nature, judo, and watching ice hockey. Roman is currently joint between the Toste lab and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab where he is working on developing new catalysts for CO2 reduction.

David Koenigs

David was born and raised in Germany. He studied chemistry in Muenster and obtained his diploma in 2011. After moving with his supervisor to Berlin, he completed his PhD in 2014 working with Martin Oestreich. His graduate work was focused on cooperative Si-H bond activation for the generation of potent silicon electrophiles for catalysis. During his PhD, he spent six months in the laboratory of Kazuyuki Tatsumi in Nagoya, Japan. He joined the Toste group in 2015 as a DAAD-Postdoctoral Fellow to work on new catalytic reactions and methods for organic synthesis.

Reed Larson

Reed Larson was born in Coon Rapids, MN. After earning his B.A. in chemistry at Macalester College, he moved Evanston, IL to work for Regan Thomson at Northwestern University where he completed the total synthesis of (-)-GB17. After receiving his PhD in the summer of 2014, the curiosity of snowless winters brought him to the Toste group at Cal Berkeley. He is currently exploring the utility of chemical transformations of biomass materials.

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.

Suresh Pindi

Suresh Pindi was born in India. He received a master's degree in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Kanpur). Suresh got his PhD under the supervision of Professor Guigen Li at Texas Tech University. In 2014, he joined Dean Toste's research group. He is currently studying the heterogeneous catalysis for the production of biofuels and lubricants. Other than chemistry he likes to watch college football.

Xinxin Shao

Xinxin was born and grew up in Zhejiang, China. He obtained his B. Sc. at Northwest University in 2010. He then moved to Shanghai Institue of Organic Chemisty (SIOC) to pursue a Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Long Lu. His Ph.D. work was focused on development and application new reagents on trifluoromethylthiolation. In 2016, he joined the Toste group as a postdoctral to learn about gold catalyzed reactions.

Lipeng Wu

Lipeng was born in Hebei, China and received his B.Sc in Biology at the Agricultural University of Hebei and then his M.Sc in Biochemistry under the guidance of Prof. Rui Wang in Lanzhou. Then, he joined Prof. Matthias Beller's group at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis at the University of Rostock (LIKAT) in Germany as a PhD student, where he focused on alkene carbonylation reactions and carbon dioxide utilization. In 2014, he joined Toste group and works on the conversion of biofuel.

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.

Zhenyu Yang

Zhenyu was born and raised in Yangzhou, China. He obtained his B. Sc. at Nanjing University in 2005. He then moved to the Shanghai Institue of Organic Chemisty. He earned his Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Yao Zhujun. His Ph.D. work was focused on the total synthesis of marine diterpenoid Clavulactone (Isolated by his boss's boss: Prof. Wu Yulin) In 2013, he joined the Toste group as a postdoctoral researcher to learn about asymmetric catalysis.

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.

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.

Visiting Scholars

Undergraduates

Tiffany Chen

Tiffany grew up near Los Angeles and joined the Toste group in 2015, where she works on trifluoromethyl gold complexes. Previously, she worked on transannular and [6+4] cycloadditions in the Houk lab at UCLA. Outside of lab, she enjoys running, exploring the Bay Area, and all varieties of music.

Banruo Huang

Banruo grew up in Shanghai, China. He is now a Junior of Honors Chemistry, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Previously, he worked on palladium-catalyzed difunctionalization of olefin under the guidance of Prof. Wanbin Zhang. In 2016 he joined the Toste group to learn about asymmetric catalysis. Outside of lab, he enjoys food, music and also lovely squirrel in Berkeley.

Yongil "Paul" Jin

Yongil (Paul) was born at Seoul, South Korea and joined the Toste group in 2016, where he works on fluorination with palladium complexes. He is currently pursuing B.S degree of Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Previously, he worked the synthesis of HDAC inhibitor (anti-cancer drug) at Yonsei University under the supervision of prof. Gyoon-Hee Han. He also performed the total synthesis (Hinkdentine A) in the DYKC lab at Seoul National University under the supervision of prof. David-Yukai Chen.

Woojin Lee

Woojin Lee was born and grew up in South Korea. He left South Korea for studying chemistry in Kansas and transferred to Berkeley. He is currently interested in total synthesis and medicinal chemistry. Outside of chemistry, Woojin enjoys playing tennis, playing piano, and taking a walk on the campus. He hopes to be a Chemist/CEO at a pharmaceutical company in the future.

He-Qing Sun

He-Qing grew up in Nanjing, China and now is an undergraduate student of Nanjing University. In his senior year, He-Qing came to the Berkeley and joined the Toste group to learn about gold chemistry.