BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 1 - Bioderived Materials
What is your research focus?
Prof. Yang’s lab bridges chemistry and biology to develop biocatalytic strategies to tackle challenges in catalysis and synthetic science. Particularly by addressing problems in asymmetric catalysis by utilizing enzyme-substrate interactions. These interactions can be tuned by directed evolution and we have repurposed metalloenzymes for new-to-nature reactions. Enzymes typically catalyze native reactions they are physiologically evolved for. Since I started in the Yang lab, I have had the opportunity to work on the stereoselectivity of heme protein catalyzed radical reactions. Specifically, P411-catalyzed asymmetric radical additions to aromatic rings for C-C bond formation and an enantioselective C(sp3)–H amination project. I am currently working on divergent chemoenzymatic synthesis of difluorinated bioisosteres of antibiotics project. I am interested and plan to collaborate with other labs to work on polymerization reactions using enzymes. Additionally, research on applying enzymes to polymer chemistry has been limited to naturally occurring enzymes. Incorporating protein engineering into this field has massive potential for improvements in molecular weight control, polydispersity, and tacticity, as well as the development of novel polymerization reactions. Discovery of novel polymers may uncover new and exciting materials with extraordinary functionality. Through the BioPACIFIC MIP, we can utilize our expertise in biocatalysis for the scalable production of bio-derived building blocks and polymers. Overall, I look to explore the application of enzymes in polymer chemistry.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
I am interested in the BioPACIFIC MIP Fellows and Affiliates Program because it is known to be very collaborative. This interdisciplinary program can broaden my knowledge to further enhance my research. I am really fascinated by protein engineering and being able to apply it to polymer chemistry. I would like the opportunity to learn how other groups incorporate their work in the production of polymers and bioderived building blocks. Predominantly, being able to contribute to the development of new high-performance materials with my biocatalysis background.