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]

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]

Class of 2018

Caroline Rouget Virbel

Caroline hails from the south of France. At 18 she decided to hop across the Atlantic to study at Princeton University where she obtained her B.A. in Chemistry and worked under the supervision of Prof. David MacMillan on Metallaphotoredox catalysis. After four years of New Jersey winters, she decided to move to Berkeley for her PhD. Outside of lab she can usually be found baking, stress-cleaning, or snuggling with her kitten Iridium.
caroline_rouget [at]

Zeng-Rong Wong

Zeng Rong grew up in Singapore and obtained his undergraduate degree there from Nanyang Technological University. For his honors thesis he spent a semester on exchange at the University of Oxford, working on total synthesis with Prof. Darren Dixon. After graduating in 2018, he moved to Berkeley and joined the Toste group. In his spare time he likes playing the piano and swimming.
zengrong_wong [at]

Wendy Cao

Wendy was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She attended Cornell University in cold upstate New York, where she did her undergraduate research with Jeremy Baskin. After spending 4 years in the cold, she was more than excited to move to Berkeley and start her PhD program in chemical biology. She is now a joint student with Francis Lab. During her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, exercising, and hopes to learn rock climbing.
wendyc [at]

Class of 2019

Hoi Ting Katie Chung

Katie was born and raised in Hong Kong, a small but vibrant metropolitan. She obtained her BSc in Chemistry in the University of Hong Kong and conducted her undergraduate thesis on photoaffinity probes under the supervision of Prof. Dan Yang. In her senior year, she came to Berkeley and did some research on supramolecular catalysis under the supervision of Prof. Ken Raymond. After graduation, she decided to come back to Berkeley to explore more about catalysis. Outside of the lab, she enjoys playing soccer, tennis and singing karaoke.
kt22 [at]

Elizabeth Heafner

Elizabeth was born in Virginia and grew up in North Carolina. Wanting to get out of North Carolina for awhile, she returned to Virginia to attend the University of Richmond. While at Richmond, she obtained her B.S. in chemistry and researched ketone alkylations under Dr. Wade Downey. After graduating, ready to try something new and get away from any chance of cold weather, Elizabeth moved to Berkeley for her PhD. Following in the footsteps of two of her former professors at the University of Richmond, Elizabeth decided to join the Toste lab. Outside of the lab she enjoys lifting weights, watching Netflix, and going out with friends.
liz_heafner [at]

Colin Howell

Colin was born in London, but grew up in Oberlin, Ohio. Tiring of the small, liberal arts college-town lifestyle, he decided to attend Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he worked with Dr. Bob Paley on diastereoselective cyclizations. In 2019, he finally decided to trade 10 seasons a year for just one, moving out to Berkeley and joining the Toste group. Outside of lab he enjoys music, trying new food, and longing for the days when he can travel the world again.
colin_howell [at]

Annika Page

Annika was born and raised in the frigid Minneapolis suburbs, and decided to suffer through four more years of cold to attend the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. While there, she earned a B.A. in political science as well as a B.S. in chemistry. At Minnesota, she studied the trapping mechanisms of thermally generated benzynes in the lab of Professor Tom Hoye. In the Summer of 2018 she had a brief stint in the Toste group as an Amgen Scholar, and she decided to come back for grad school to enjoy the beautiful CA weather and learn more about bioconjugation. In her time outside of the lab, Annika enjoys baking, yoga, and traveling.
annikapage [at]

Jennifer Sowin

Jennifer was born and raised in Appleton, WI. She obtained her B.S. in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, investigating aerobic palladium catalysis in the lab of Shannon Stahl. She spent summer 2017 working on cobalt-mediated C-H amination in Ted Betley’s lab, and summer 2019 interning at MilliporeSigma in Madison, WI where she completed organic synthesis related to ADCs. After deciding she didn’t want to endure any more polar vortexes, in 2019, she moved to CA where she’s pursuing her PhD at UC Berkeley in the Toste lab. Outside of lab, she likes to run, drink excessive amounts of coffee, and explore the Bay Area.
jennifersowin [at]

Kay Xia

Kay was born in New York, and grew up living in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, and Boston. She attended Harvard University, where she earned a joint Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry and Visual and Environmental Studies. As an undergraduate she studied organometallic photocatalysts under Professor Dan Nocera. After graduation she drove across the country to study supramolecular cages with Professors Dean Toste, Ken Raymond, and Bob Bergman. Outside of the lab she enjoys painting and is trying to learn to windsurf.
ktx [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]

Lily Hale

Lily was born and raised near Seattle, WA. She received her B.Sc. in chemistry at Western Washington University, where she was introduced to organometallic chemistry working with Prof. Tim Clark on Ir-catalyzed C-H borylation reactions. In 2013 she began doctoral studies under the direction of Prof. Nate Szymczak at the University of Michigan. Her graduate work focused on developing new strategies for Ru-catalyzed hydrogenation reactions of amines and nitriles. During her Ph.D. studies she was also a visiting student in the lab Prof. Ruben Martin at ICIQ in Tarragona, Spain, where she learned about the mechanisms and reactions of Ni-catalyzed C-O bond cleavage. Since you can't ride a motorcycle year-round in the Midwest, Lily moved back to the best coast after earning her Ph.D., and joined the Toste lab as a postdoctoral researcher in 2018. Lily is interested in applying her background in homogeneous catalysis to heterogeneous systems for reductive amination processes. Outside of the lab she enjoys experimenting with sourdough baking, learning the guitar, and exploring northern California with her fiancé and two dogs.
lilhale [at]

Keywan A. Johnson

Keywan grew up in the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands. Curious about the mainland winters, he attended the University of Delaware where he received his B.S. in Chemistry. While there he conducted research with Prof. Donald A. Watson on the silyl-Heck reaction. In 2013, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Rochester in the lab of Prof. Daniel J. Weix. His research focused on the development of new and improved methods for Ni-catalyzed cross-electrophile coupling. In 2017 he relocated with Prof. Weix to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The following spring, he conducted research on the difunctionalization of alkenes with Prof. Yoshiaki Nakao at Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan. After earning his Ph.D. (and satisfying his curiosity about winters), Keywan joined the Toste lab as a postdoctoral researcher to study enantioselective transformations catalyzed by gold. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, hanging out with friends, and exploring the west coast.
keywanj [at]

Liu Leo Liu

Leo was born in Yinchuan, China. He moved to an amazing coastal city of Xiamen and received his B.Sc. degree in chemistry at Xiamen University (XMU). He then pursued his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from a joint program under the supervision of Prof. Yufen Zhao at Xiamen University and Prof. Guy Bertrand at the University of California, San Diego. He also worked on computational chemistry with Prof. Jun Zhu at XMU. After graduation, he was heading to the north to the group of Prof. Douglas W. Stephan at the University of Toronto as a post-doctoral fellow. His previous research spans synthetic and computational chemistry, with the focus of development of p-block element-based compounds (especially isolation of extremely sensitive species). Missing California sunshine and beaches too much, he joined in the groups of Profs. F. Dean Toste and Kenneth N. Raymond in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory & the University of California, Berkeley in the Oct, 2019, carrying out supramolecular catalysis. He will start his own career as a tenure-track assistant professor at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in autumn of 2020. Outside of the lab, he loves to enjoy family time with his awesome wife and (hopefully) little genius daughter.
liuleoliu [at]

Patrick Moon

Patrick grew up in Ontario, Canada and received his BSc in chemistry in 2014 from the University of Ottawa, working in the groups of Prof. André Beauchemin and Prof. Mark Taylor (University of Toronto). After a short internship at Genentech in South San Francisco in 2014, he moved back to Canada to complete his PhD at the University of Alberta in the group of Prof. Rylan Lundgren working on the development of metal-catalyzed decarboxylative cross-coupling reactions. Relocating back to California, he joined the Toste group in the Fall of 2019 as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow. In his spare time, Patrick enjoys playing racket sports (or any sport!), watching hockey and having beer with friends.
patrickmoon92 [at]

Rene Rahimoff

René was born and raised in the idyllic north of the Bavarian capitol Munich. After receiving his B.Sc. at the University of Munich, he had his first encounter with the Californian sun working on near-infrared copper probes in Chris Chang's lab at UC Berkeley. Missing the light German cuisine, he moved back to finish his Master studies in Prof. Thomas Carell's lab at the University of Munich, from where he also finally graduated with a Ph.D. investigating unexplored chemical pathways for the active removal of epigenetic marks in DNA. Escaping the yearly Oktoberfest madness, he returned to the good life at UC Berkeley in order to develop novel BINOL-based catalysts for enantioselective transformations. When not in the lab, René enjoys hiking, live music and rock climbing.
r.rahimoff [at]

Jacob Tracy

Jake was born and raised in Holliston, MA. He earned his B.A. from Swarthmore college where he majored in chemistry and minored in engineering. At Swarthmore, Jake played on the men’s soccer team and worked with Prof. Robert Paley on the diastereoselective formation of spiroketals. In 2013, Jake abandoned the concept of winter and moved to Stanford University to pursue his PhD. Working in the laboratory of Prof. Barry Trost, Jake studied the synthesis and reactivity of catalytically generated vanadium and zinc enolates. After receiving his PhD, Jake joined the Toste Lab as a postdoc to study electrochemistry. Outside of lab, Jake enjoys camping, playing soccer, and watching baseball.
jstracy [at]

Ulrike Warzok

Ulli was raised in Potsdam, but was soon lured to Berlin to study chemistry and to enjoy the German capital. She completed her Master thesis with Prof. Hans-Ulrich Reissig in 2014, trying her luck with alkaloid synthesis. Not quite ready to leave Berlin, but anyways looking for a new challenge for her PhD, she joined the lab of Prof. Christoph Schalley to learn how to make supramolecular complexes fly. Ulli completed her PhD in 2018, which looked at supramolecular capsules and polyoxometalates by mass spectrometry. A short postdoc in the same group and a hipsteresque summer later, she jumped at the chance for the Californian sunshine. She joined the Toste and Raymond groups in 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt foundation to work on supramolecular catalysis. Outside of the lab, she's traveling, hiking, climbing and singing to her heart's content.
ulrike.warzok [at]

Helene Wolleb

Helene grew up near Basel in the picturesque western part of Switzerland. In 2010, she moved to Zurich to pursue her undergraduate studies in chemistry at ETH. An exchange semester at the University of Cambridge, where she worked in the group of Steven Ley, sparked her interest in natural product synthesis. Back at ETH, she carried out her master’s thesis in the lab of Antonio Togni focusing on novel trifluoromethylation reagents. Helene then joined the lab of Erick Carreira and completed her Ph.D. on the total synthesis of a sesquiterpenoid natural product and the investigation of anti-inflammatory isoprostanes. She moved to the Bay Area to join the Toste lab and to explore novel bioconjugation reactions. Outside the lab, Helene enjoys playing the violin and exploring the great outdoors of sunny California.
helene.wolleb [at]

Anna Wuttig

Anna was born in Washington, D.C. She received her A.B. from Princeton University in 2013. There, she was exposed to her first research experiences in Profs. Haw Yang, Robert Cava, and Andrew Bocarsly's research groups, and these opportunities inspired her to pursue graduate research in electrochemistry. She received her Ph.D. from MIT in 2018, where she investigated electrocatalytic CO2 reduction in Prof. Yogesh Surendranath's group. As a postdoc in the Toste Group, Anna is excited to explore the synthetic possibilities afforded by electrochemical approaches. Having lived on the east coast most of her life, Anna is enjoying finding new places here on the west coast to eat, go for a nice long run, and get that great cup of coffee with family and friends.
annawuttig [at]

Wenhao Zhang

Wenhao was born and grew up in Chongqing, China. He obtained his B. Sc from Sichuan University in 2012. He then moved to Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry to pursue his Ph.D. degree in Professor Ang Li’s lab, where he focused on natural product synthesis, in particular, the synthesis of Daphniphyllum alkaloids. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2017 and then worked as a research associate in Professor Ang Li’s lab. In 2019, he joined the Toste Lab as a postdoc to study electrochemistry. Outside the Lab, he enjoys playing table tennis, riding and hiking.
wenhaozhang [at]

Visiting Scholars

Chenyang Hu

Chenyang was born and raised in a small town near Hangzhou, China. He is a senior undergraduate student at Nanjing University, China, where he conducted some research on indole’s atropisomers with professor Shouyun Yu. Looking for new adventure, he came to UC Berkeley to study more about organic chemistry. Outside the lab, He is a sports fan, enjoys playing soccer and table tennis ( seems like both sports are not very popular here).
huchenyang [at]

Kun Wang

Kun was born and spent most his life in Beijing, China. Ten years ago, he joined Toste’s group as visiting student and worked on the subject of biomass conversion. Now, he is a professor in Beijing Forestry University. Missing the sunshine and beautiful view in north California, as well as the unforgettable experience, he joined Toste’s group again in 2019. As a visiting scholar, he is working on the utilization of natural compounds and exploring the electrochemical reduction of CO2 with biomass-based materials. Outside the lab, he enjoys playing basketball and having great time with his family.
wangkun1207 [at]

Rotation Students


Hagar Ali

Hagar was born and raised in Egypt until she moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2010, where she attended Venice High School before coming to UC Berkeley to study Chemistry. She previously worked with Professor Ting Xu on random heteropolymer synthesis before joining the Toste group in Spring 2019. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, playing the ukulele, biking, and sewing.

Katia Gibson

Katia is born and raised Bay Area, graduating from Los Altos High School in 2017 before coming to UC Berkeley to pursue a chemistry degree. She previously interned at Sandia National Labs characterizing helium nanobubbles. In her free time she loves to run, surf, and work on sustainability projects in the UC Berkeley community.

Julia Greenbaum

Julia is a born and raised Californian, growing up in Orange County. After graduating from Dana Hills High School, she traded the Southern California beaches for the Northern California bay to pursue a Chemistry degree in UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry. In the Toste group, Julia’s main interests are in developing new catalytic methods. In her spare time, she loves surfing, running, hiking, and traveling.

Tanya Lazarus

Tanya grew up moving around India, Malaysia and Singapore. She attended high school at United World College of South East Asia and graduated in 2016 when she decided to come to California to pursue a degree in chemical biology. In the free time she doesn’t have as a student in the college of chemistry, she likes to workout, play tennis and cook.

Arismel Tena Meza

Arismel was born in Michoacán, Mexico and grew up in Salinas, CA. She attended Salinas High School. Now, at UC Berkeley she is an undergraduate majoring in chemistry. Her main interest lies in synthetic organic chemistry. Before joining the Toste group, Arismel was an intern at Genentech within the small molecule drug discovery group working under the supervision of Dr. Craig E. Stivala and Dr. Jason R. Zbieg. While at Genentech her project focused on Ir-catalyzed Asymmetric allylic alkylations (AAA) reactions. In the Toste group, Arismel's focus is in developing new bioconjugation reactions. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading fiction books while sipping on tea, and making arts & crafts.

Sayaka Nitta

Sayaka was born and raised in Japan. She moved to BC, Canada in 2013 and came to CA in 2015. She studied at Foothill College, majoring in biology and transferred to UC Berkeley in 2018 pursuing a degree in chemistry. In her free time, she likes to watch movies, listen to music, and eat kettle corn.