Yang Yang

Assistant Professor

Contact Phone


Office Location

CHEM 1161D
PSBN 2608 (lab)



Dr. Yang obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from Peking University in 2011. He then carried out graduate research under the guidance of Prof. Stephen L. Buchwald at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry in 2016. At MIT, Dr. Yang’s research focused on copper-catalyzed asymmetric hydrofunctionalization of simple olefins. In 2014, Dr. Yang spent a summer in the laboratory of Prof. Peng Liu at the University of Pittsburgh, where he explored computational tools to elucidate the mechanism of organic and organometallic reactions. As an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow working with Prof. Frances H. Arnold at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Yang engineered P450 enzymes for asymmetric C-H amination.



Research Group Website: https://yang.chem.ucsb.edu/

As the products of billions of years of evolution, enzymes are capable of catalyzing challenging transformations under exceptionally mild conditions. Nonetheless, research to fully unlock enzyme’s synthetic potential is still in infancy. By bridging chemistry and biology, the Yang laboratory will devise new biocatalytic and biomimetic strategies to tackle daunting challenges in synthetic chemistry and asymmetric catalysis. Essential to our research is the ability to draw inspiration from the hidden mechanistic linkage between biocatalysis and small-molecule catalysis. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining organic synthesis, enzymology, protein engineering, computational modeling and spectroscopy, we will reprogram enzymatic machineries to access reaction space well beyond nature’s biochemical landscape. In addition to our focus on the chemistry-biology interface, we will also leverage our expertise in protein engineering to develop new stimuli-responsive materials.


Selected Research Publications:

  1. Yang, Y.; Cho, I.; Qi, X.; Liu, P.;* Arnold, F. H.* “An Enzymatic Platform for the Asymmetric Amination of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary C(sp3)–H Bonds”, Nat. Chem. 2019, 11, 987 –993.
  2. Liu, R. Y.;† Zhou, Y.;† Yang, Y.; Buchwald, S. L.* “Enantioselective Allylation Using Allene, A Petroleum Cracking Byproduct”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 2251–2256.
  3. Tsai, E. Y.; Liu, R. Y.; Yang, Y.; Buchwald, S. L.* “A Regio- and Enantioselective CuH-Catalyzed Ketone Allylation with Terminal Allenes”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 2007– 2011.
  4. Lu, G.; Liu, R. Y.; Yang, Y.; Fang, C.; Lambrecht, D. S.;* Buchwald, S. L.;* Liu, P.* “Ligand-Substrate Dispersion Facilitates the Copper-Catalyzed Hydroamination of Unactivated Olefins." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 16548–16555.
  5. Yang, Y.;  Perry, I. B.; Buchwald, S. L.* “Copper-Catalyzed Enantioselective Addition of Styrene-Derived Nucleophiles to Imines Enabled by Ligand-Controlled Chemoselective Hydrocupration." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 9787–9790.
  6. Liu, R. Y.; Yang, Y.; Buchwald, S. L.* “CuH-Catalyzed Regiodivergent and Stereoselective Allylation of Imines from Terminal Allenes." Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 14077–14080.
  7. Yang, Y.; Perry, I. B.; Liu, P.;* Buchwald, S. L.* “Copper-Catalyzed Asymmetric Addition of Olefin-Derived Nucleophiles to Ketones." Science 2016, 353, 144–150.
  8. Yang, Y.* “Regio- and Stereospecific 1,3-Allyl Group Transfer Triggered by a Copper-Catalyzed Borylation/ortho-Cyanation Cascade." Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 345–349.
  9. Yang, Y.;† Shi, S.-L.; Niu, D.; Liu, P.; Buchwald, S. L.*, “Catalytic Asymmetric Hydroamination of Unactivated Internal Olefins to Aliphatic Amines.” Science 2015, 349, 62–66.
  10. Yang, Y.; Liu, P.* “Mechanism and Origins of Selectivities in the Copper-Catalyzed Dearomatization Induced C–H Cyanation of Vinylarenes.” ACS Catal. 2015, 5, 2944–2951.
  11. Yang, Y.; Buchwald, S. L.* “Copper-Catalyzed Regioselective ortho C–H Cyanation of Vinylarenes.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 8677–8681.
  12. Yang, Y.; Buchwald, S. L.* “Ligand Controlled Palladium-Catalyzed Regiodivergent Suzuki– Miyaura Cross-Coupling of Allylboronates and Aryl Halides.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 10642–10645.
  13. Yang, Y.; Mustard, T. J. L.; Cheong, P. H.-Y.; *Buchwald, S. L.* “Palladium-Catalyzed Completely Linear-Selective Negishi Cross-Coupling of Allylzinc Halides with Aryl and Vinyl Electrophiles.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 14098–14102.