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/

The Yang laboratory devises novel biocatalytic strategies to tackle challenging problems in synthetic organic chemistry.

In the first area, using protein engineering and directed evolution, we are leveraging enzymatic platforms to impose precise regio- and stereocontrol over challenging catalytic reactions. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, enzymology, and protein engineering, we expand the catalytic repertoire of enzymatic machineries well beyond nature’s biochemical landscape.

In the second area, we are developing concise chemoenzymatic syntheses of stereochemically complex natural products. Combining the power of organic synthesis and enzyme catalysis, we will simplify the assembly of biologically active natural products and their analogs.

Students in the Yang lab are trained in the areas of organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, protein engineering and protein biochemistry, with an emphasis of organic reaction development. This training will prepare our students for a career in academia, pharmaceutical industry, as well as biotech companies.



  1. Qi Zhou, Michael Chin, Yue Fu, Peng Liu and Yang Yang*, Science 2021, in press. (*: corresponding author.)
  2. Binh Khan Mai, Natalia M. Neris, Yang Yang* and Peng Liu*, “Nitrogen Radical Rebound Is the Enantiodetermining Step in Biocatalytic C(sp3)-H Amination: A Combined Experimental and QM/MM Study.” manuscript in preparation.
  3. Yang Yang and Frances H. Arnold, ““Navigating the Unnatural Reaction Space: Directed Evolution of Heme Proteins for New-to-Nature Carbene and Nitrene Transfer”” Accounts of Chemical Research 2021, 54, 1209.
  4. Chen Yang, Lei Zhang, Chenxi Lu, Shuyao Zhou, Xingxing Li, Yanwei Li, Yang Yang, Yu Li, Zhirong Liu, Jinlong Yang, K. N. Houk, Fanyang Mo, Xuefeng Guo, “Unveiling the full reaction path of the Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling in a single molecule junction”, Nature Nanotechnology 2021, published online.

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.