Meet the Group

The Dong Group is a team of diverse students who share a common passion for studying and advancing organic synthesis. We aim to produce innovative research within a supportive, fun, and intellectually stimulating environment. Below you can find out more about individuals in our team. If you're interested in joining our research efforts, please feel free to contact us for more information. LABORATORY: 4403 Natural Science I; TELEPHONE: 949-824-0415. See GROUP ALUMNI.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Bubwoong Kang

Was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. He obtained his B.S. in agriculture at Kobe University, where he worked on the discovery of agrochemicals with Hirosato Takikawa. Next, he pursued his Ph.D. at Kyoto University with Kiyosei Takasu and Ken-ichi Yamada, where he developed NHC-catalyzed transformations. In November 2016, he joined our Irvine team as a postdoctoral fellow, supported by the Uehara Memorial Foundation. Outside lab, he enjoys watching YouTube videos of the PPAP guy and spending time with his wife.

Dr. Xiaohui Yang

Was born and raised in Hebei province, China. She obtained her bachelor's degree in chemistry at Jiangsu Normal University in 2010. Then, she moved to Nankai University for doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Qi-Lin Zhou. Her projects focused on Iridium-catalyzed hydrogenation of ketoesters and lactones. In February 2016, she joined our group to study hydroacylation. When not in the lab, she enjoys running, playing computer games, and talking with friends.

Graduate Students

Zhiwei Chen

Comes to us from Flushing, New York. Zhiwei obtained his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Queens College of CUNY in 2014 where he did undergraduate research with Prof. Yu Chen. He joined our group in December 2014 as a member of team hydroformylation. During his free time, he enjoys watching movies, reading, and swimming.

Faben Cruz

Was born in Dallas, Texas and moved to Manila, Philippines at the age of 9. Faben moved back to the great state of Texas where he obtained his B.S. in chemistry from UT Austin in 2013. While at UT, Faben investigated Rh-catalyzed decarbonylative C-C bond activation in the lab of Professor Guangbin Dong. He joined our group in December 2013 as a member of team hydroacylation. When not doing chemistry, Faben enjoys lifting heavy things and putting them down, eating meat, and wearing colorful socks.

Daniel Kim

Was born and raised in Horsham, PA near Philadelphia. He earned his bachelors degree in chemistry at Gettysburg College where he worked with Dr. Timothy W. Funk studying Fe and Pd chemistry. Dan joined our research team in December 2012 where he will pursue his Ph.D. in synthesis and catalysis. While Dan is not doing research, he enjoys eating chips (not cookies), catching up on his favorite TV shows, and playing soccer.

Diane Le

Hails from the Pacific Northwest, and was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. In May 2012, she received her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Portland where she conducted research in Dr. Warren Wood's laboratory synthesizing sultam thioureas with antiviral activity against West Nile virus. In December 2012, she joined our group to develop new copper catalysts. When not in the lab, Diane loves baking, climbing, consuming sriracha, and watching NBA basketball.

Alexander Lu

Was born and raised in Montville, New Jersey. He obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from Boston College while working in the lab of Professor James P. Morken. He joined us in December 2016 as a member of team hydroamination. When not doing chemistry, he enjoys napping, eating instant ramen, and hip-hop..

Nathan Oldenhuis

Was born in Houston, Texas and raised in the cultural hub that is Omaha, Nebraska. He obtained his bachelors degree in chemistry from the University of Iowa in 2012. During his undergraduate career, Nate worked with Prof. Hien Nguyen at Iowa, and spent his summers working with Prof. Steven Buchwald at M.I.T. Nate is a joint student with Prof. Zhibin Guan, working on creating organic materials using organometallic catalysis. In his free time Nate enjoys the outdoors, cooking, climbing, slacklining, and the color green.

Jan Riedel

Was born and raised in Hamm, Germany. Jan completed studies in chemistry at the University of Dortmund and obtained a master's degree at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, Dortmund under the supervision of Dr. Christian Hedberg and Prof. Herbert Waldmann. In the summer of 2013, Jan was an exchange student in our group, where he developed his interests in organometallic and computational chemistry. Jan returned to UC Irvine in September 2014 and joined our group to pursue his doctorate. Outside lab, he enjoys running and squash.


Wilmer Alkhas

Is our group coordinator and webmaster. He grew up in southern California where he graduated from the California State University at Long Beach with a bachelorís degree in Computer Engineering.

Katie Kim

Was born in Anaheim but grew up in Torrance, California. She joined the team in the summer of 2015. Currently, she is studying mechanical engineering and hopes to work with medical devices in the future. Outside of school and work, she enjoys playing many sports such as basketball, volleyball and football. Her other hobbies include cooking/baking and drawing.

Manilyn Matau

Is the contracts and grants/finance analyst. She received her bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in business administration from Northwood University. She then pursued her M.B.A. at the University of Redlands with an emphasis in finance, where she was nominated by her peers to become a member of the Whitehead Leadership Society. Manilyn recently joined UCI in 2014 and the Dong Research Group in 2015.

Patricia Terrell

Earned her doctorate degree from Baylor University where she examined writing public legislation, in light of the separation of religion and state. During her studies at Oxford, she researched guidelines for human bioethics. After an internship at the Council of Europe, she participated on the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (in Paris) for nine years. Her work led to the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Bioethics" and she has published books with Taylor and Francis and Bloomsbury. We're fortunate to now have her at UC Irvine where she joined our team in 2015.

Biyi Yang

Was born and raised in Hunan Province, China and attended high school in Shanghai. At UCI, she is a junior, double majoring in Business Administration and Business Economics. In Winter 2016, she joined our team as a lab assistant. During her leisure time, she loves playing piano, studying languages, and watching Korean dramas.

Lab Bettas


Grew up in southern California and joined our team in November 2014. Bubbles enjoys fishing for results and has an eclectic appreciation for cinema. His favorite films are Jaws, Finding Nemo, and Waterworld.


From Tustin, he joined our team in the summer of 2015. He loves the study of valence shells and is passionate about green chemistry. Living up to his name, Hulk's growing at an exponential rate. Inside the tank, he enjoys swimming, sun-bathing, and fishing.


Grew up in Canada, but his family originates from the shallow ponds of southeast Asia. He joined the group in early 2010 and moved with us by truck, from Toronto to Irvine in 2012. Molli specializes in scale up. He enjoys swimming and other water activities.


Is a half moon betta, whose name means 'staying power.' Sitz joined our lab in 2015. He is hooked on catalysis and swims in circles.


Is from Newport Beach, CA. He joined our team in the winter of 2015. His main interest is catalysis in aqueous media. For fun, he enjoys scuba diving and kite surfing.

Group Alumni

Back to the Dong Research Home Page The Dong Group through the years