Associate Professor ZHAO Yu

Personal Webpage

B.S., 2002, Peking University; Ph.D., 2008, Boston College; Postdoc, 2008-2011, MIT

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry, NUS 
3 Science Drive 3 
Singapore 117543 

Office: S5-03-09
Tel: (65) 6516-7964
Fax: (65) 6779-1691

Postdoc and Ph.D. Position Openings

We are having multiple positions available at Ph.D. or Postdoctoral level. Self-motivated chemists who are trained and/or interested in synthetic organic chemistry or organometallic chemistry are welcome to apply. Please send an electronic copy of your curriculum vitae, research summary and references contact information to

Research Interests

Organic and Organometallic Synthesis and Catalysis, Medicinal Chemistry and Material Science

Research interests of my group lie in the discovery and development of efficient, selective as well as economical catalytic methods for chemical synthesis, with an emphasis on asymmetric catalysis. Research efforts will be focused on the identification of new activation modes for the conversion of feedstock molecules to useful organic compounds, the introduction of new approaches for catalyst discovery, and understanding the reaction mechanism. Application of the new methods toward the synthesis of molecules with a complex structure and/or useful functions will serve as a testament of the efficacy of the method development. Ultimately, the goal is to provide new chemical tools to bear on contemporary problems in the applied areas such as pharmaceuticals, chemical biology and material science.


  •   2016                     Thieme Chemistry Journal Award

  •   2015                     Young Scientist Award, Faculty of Science, NUS

  •   2015                     Young Chemist Award, Department of Chemistry, NUS

  •   2015                     Asian Core Program Lectureship Award from Japan and Hong Kong

  •   2014                     Asian Core Program Lectureship Award from Taiwan and Thailand

  •   2013                     Asian Core Program Lectureship Award from China and South Korea

  •   2011-2016          Singapore National Research Foundation Fellowship, Singapore


Representative Publications

  • “Access to Acyclic (Z)-Enediynes via Alkyne Trimerization: Cooperative Bimetallic Catalysis Using Air as the Oxidant,” Lee, J. T. D.; Zhao, Y. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, in press.

  • “Stereoselective 1,6-Conjugate Addition/Annulation of Para-Quinone Methides with Vinyl Epoxides/ Cyclopropanes,” Ma, C.; Huang, Y. Zhao, Y.  ACS Catal. 2016, 6, 6408-6412.

  • “Asymmetric Transfer Hydrogenation of Imines using Alcohol:  Efficiency and Selectivity Are Affected by the Hydrogen Donor,” Pan, H.-J.; Zhang, Y.; Shan, C.; Yu, Z.; Lan, Y.;* Zhao, Y.* Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 9615-9619.

  • “Cobalt-Catalyzed Enantioselective Vinylation of Activated Ketones and Imines,” Huang, Y.; Huang, R.-Z.; Zhao, Y. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 6571-6576.

  • “Cobalt-Catalyzed Allylation of Heterobicyclic Alkenes: Ligand-Induced Divergent Reactivities,” Huang, Y.; Ma, C.; Lee, Y. X.; Huang, R.-Z.; Zhao, Y. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 13696–13700.

  • “Iron-catalyzed amination of alcohols assisted by Lewis acid,” Pan, H.-J.; Ng, T. W.; Zhao, Y. Chem. Comm. 2015, 51, 11907–11910.

  • "Dynamic Kinetic Asymmetric Amination of Alcohols: From A Mixture of Four Isomers to Diastereo- and Enantiopure a-Branched Amines," Rong, Z. Q.; Zhang, Y.; Chua, R. H. B.; Pan, H.-J.; Zhao, Y. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 4944–4947.

  • "Catalytic Divergent Synthesis of 3H or 1H Pyrroles by [3+2] Cyclization of Allenoates with Activated Isocyanides," Liao, J.-Y.; Shao, P.-L.; Zhao, Y. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 628–631.

  • "Kinetic Resolution of 1,1’-Biaryl-2,2’-Diols and Amino Alcohols through NHC-Catalyzed Atroposelective Acylation," Lu, S.; Poh, S. B.; Zhao, Y. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 11041–11045.

  • "Highly Diastereo- and Enantioselective Ag-Catalyzed Double [3+2] Cyclization of a-Imino Esters with Isocyanoacetate," Shao, P.-L.; Liao, J.-Y.; Ho, Y. A.; Zhao, Y. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 5435–5439.

  • "Enantioselective Oxidation of 1,2-Diols with Quinine-derived Urea Organocatalyst," Rong, Z.-Q.; Pan, H.-J.; Yan, H.-L.; Zhao, Y. Org. Lett. 2014, 16, 208–211.

  • "Catalytic Enantioselective Amination of Alcohols by the Use of Borrowing Hydrogen Methodology: Cooperative Catalysis by Iridium and a Chiral Phosphoric Acid," Zhang, Y.; Lim, C.-S.; Sim, D. S. B.; Pan, H.-J.; Zhao, Y. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 1399–1403.

  • "Practical, Highly Stereoselective Allyl- and Crotylsilylation of Aldehydes Catalyzed by Readily Available Cinchona Alkaloid Amide," Huang, Y.; Yang, L.; Shao, P.; Zhao, Y. Chem. Sci. 2013, 4, 3275–3281.

  • “Kinetic Resolution of Tertiary Alcohols: Highly Enantioselective Access to 3-Hydroxy-3-Substituted Oxindoles,” Lu, S.; Poh, S. B.; Siau, W.-Y.; Zhao, Y. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 1731–1734.

  • “Enantioselective Silyl Protection of Alcohols Catalysed by an Amino-Acid-Based Small Molecule,”Zhao, Y.; Rodrigo, J.; Hoveyda, A. H.; Snapper, M. L. Nature 2006, 443, 67–70.