Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Prof Chi Yonggui Robin

Division of Chemistry & Biological Chemistry
School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences
College of Science

Phone: (+65)65927769
Office: SPMS-CBC-06-19

  • PhD University of Wisconsin, Madison 2007
  • BSc (ApplChem) (Hons) Hong Kong Baptist University 2002
2007-2009 Postdoc., Jean M. J. Fréchet Group, Department of Chemistry, UC-Berkeley, USA
2002-2007 Ph.D., Samuel H. Gellman Group, Department of Chemistry, UW-Madison, USA
1998-2002 Undergraduate, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and Tsinghua University

Selected Recognitions:

2017 Chemical Society of Japan (CSJ) Lectureship
2016 Aldrich-Yale Lectureship
2016 Nanyang Research Award (Young Investigator)
2015 NRF Investigatorship Award
2013 Singapore Young Scientist Award
2012 Thieme Chemistry Journal Award
2012 NTU SPMS Teaching Excellence Award
2011, 2012, 2013 ACP Lectureship Awards
2010 GSK-EDB Award on Manufacturing
2009 Singapore NRF Fellowship

2008 Stereochemistry GRC Post Doctoral Award-Deed of Gift Award
2006, 2007 Abbott Laboratories Fellowship in Synthetic Organic Chemistry
2006 Vilas Fellowship (UW-Madison)
2006 McElvain Travel Award
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 UGC Hong Kong Jockey Club Fellowship for Outstanding Mainland Students
2002 Highest cumulative GPA award in Chemistry Department (HKBU GPAs during1999-2002)
2000-2002 University President’s Honor Roll Award
2001 Mr. Wong Kwok Shuen Memorial Scholarship
2000 Mr. Lui Ming Fong Memorial Scholarship

The Chi laboratory is committed to the state-of-art original chemistry research that addresses problems of both fundamental and practical significance. A key objective is to develop green and efficient synthetic methods to make functional molecules, and to understand the principles guiding the bong breaking and formation events. We focus on the development of fundamentally novel basic catalytic activation modes with useful synthetic applications for the preparation of pharmaceuticals, agriculture chemicals, fine chemicals, and for efficient assembly and/or modification of polymers, biomolecules, and other functional molecules. Over the past years, we have developed new activation modes and synthetic transformations enabled by N-Heterocyclic Carbene (NHC) as the key organic catalyst. Immediate applications of my lab’s new catalytic approaches include concise and green processes for bioactive molecules such as valuable non-natural amino acids and their derivatives. On the fundamental side, our research has created new understanding of chemical reactivities and new concept on catalytic activations. The lab has also taken serous efforts on collaborative development on bioactive molecules and functional materials, and applied research for innovation and entrepreneurship. Examples of the lab’s research include:

--NHC organic catalyst-enabled activation of carboxylic esters, including activation of the inert beta-sp3-carbon of saturated esters.
--Biomimetic single-electron-transfer (SET) radical reactions enabled by NHC catalysts.
--Oxidative NHC catalysis and reaction controls of aldehydes, including remote-carbon functionalization.
--Cooperative catalysis merging NHCs with other catalysts (such as transition metal catalysts, Lewis acid catalysts, and other organic catalysts).
--Rapid synthesis functional molecules via new NHC catalysis, including ongoing studies for concise asymmetric total synthesis of complex natural products.
--Multi-disciplinary collaborative research, and application-driven research for innovation and entrepreneurship

The Chi group welcomes self-motivated, creative, and hard-working individuals in the following areas:
--Priorities will be given to Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents
--Synthetic Chemistry (particularly with experience in Natural Product synthesis), Electrochemistry; Polymer Materials; Physical Organic Chemistry
--Individuals with Industrial Experience, Scale up and Process Development
--Self-Financed Researchers and Students (Highly Motivated and Hard-Working)
--Exceptional Individuals in other areas
Research Interests
OrganoCatalysis, Chemical Synthesis, Functional Molecules
Research Grant
  • A*STAR Individual Research Grant (AME Domain) (2017-) [by A*STAR Science & Engineering Research Council (SERC)]
  • Academic Research Fund Tier 1 (2017-) [by MOE]
  • Academic Research Fund Tier 2 (2014-)
  • Academic Research Fund Tier 2 (2017-) [by MOE]
  • Academic Research Fund Tier 3 (2014-) [by Ministry of Education (MOE)]
  • NRF Investigatorship (2016-) [by National Research Foundation (NRF)]
  • NTU Internal Funding (2016-) [by Nanyang Technological University]
Current Projects
  • Biomimetic Organiocatalytic Dynamic Kinetic Resolution for Rapid and Scalable Access to Chiral Carboxylic Esters and Related Functional Molecules
  • Carbene-Catalyzed Selective Protection and Functionalization of Saccharides
  • Clean, Safe, Inexpensive, and Transition Metal-Free Approaches to Amino Acid-Type Bioactive Compounds and Animal Food Additives
  • Direct Concise Construction of Aromatic Molecules via NHC-Catalyzed Activations
  • Explorative Multi-Disciplinary Collaborative Research Merging Synthetic Chemistry and Other Areas
  • New Adventure to Metal/Organic (Cu/NHC) Cooperative Relay Catalysis
  • New Green OrganoCatalytic Methods for Atom-Economic Amide Synthesis
  • New Organic Catalysis and Applications
  • Opportunities with Carbene Organocatalysis: New Activation Modes & Metal-Free Rapid Green Access to Functional Molecules
  • Organocatalytic β-Activation of Saturated Ester: Nucleophilic β-Carbon & Beyond
  • Seed Funding
  • Seed Funding
  • Selective contact-active antimicrobial bio-macromolecules
  • Sustainable Catalysis and Chemical Synthesis
Selected Publications
  • Jiajia Cheng, Zhijian Huang, and Yonggui Robin Chi. (2013). NHC Organocatalytic LUMO Activation of α,β-Unsaturated Esters to React with Enamides. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 52, 8592-8596.
  • Zhenqian Fu, Jianfeng Xu, Tingshun Zhu, Wendy Wen Yi Leong, Yonggui Robin Chi. (2013). β-carbon activation of saturated carboxylic esters through N-heterocyclic carbene organocatalysis. NATURE CHEMISTRY, 5, 835-839.
  • Junming Mo, Liang Shen, and Yonggui Robin Chi. (2013). Direct β-Activation of Saturated Aldehydes to Formal Michael Acceptors through Oxidative NHC Catalysis. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 52, 8588-8591.
  • Junmin Zhang, Chong Xing, and Yonggui Robin Chi*. (2013). Catalytic Activation of Carbohydrates as Formaldehyde Equivalents for Stetter Reaction. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 135, 8113–8116.
  • Zhenqian Fu, Hui Sun, Shaojin Chen, Bhoopendra Tiwari, Guohui Li; Yonggui Robin Chi*. (2012). Controlled β-protonation and [4+2] cycloaddition of enals and chalcones via N-heterocyclic carbene/acid catalysis: substrate independent reaction control. Chemical Communications, 49, 261-263.

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