Prof. Vy M. Dong

University of California Irvine

Research Mission

Organic molecules make up nearly everything around us, including our medicines, clothing, and fuels. Research in organic chemistry is thus an essential pursuit that can impact many other scientific disciplines. By finding novel methods of building molecular architecture, we can facilitate the discovery of life-saving therapeutics, invention of novel materials, and search for alternative energies.

Our research mission is to invent better tools for organic synthesis, including new reagents, catalysts, and strategies. More specific goals include finding ways to directly convert carbon-hydrogen bonds into other functional groups, use carbon dioxide as a raw material, and make biologically active heterocycles. Our approach to these diverse challenges shares a common themeā€”to harness the power of transition metal catalysis and transform simple reagents into valuable products. Our work is motivated by
1) a fundamental interest in new organometallic pathways and 2) a practical need for more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies. We plan to use these methods to make natural products, pharmaceutical agents, and unique materials.


Vy Dong was born in Big Spring, Texas and spent early childhood in west Texas before moving with family to Anaheim, California. She graduated magna cum laude from UC Irvine where she majored in chemistry and completed an honor’s project with Larry Overman. After graduation, she joined David MacMillan’s group at UC Berkeley, and then moved with his group to Caltech to complete her doctoral studies. Her Ph.D. thesis featured variants of the zwitterionic-Claisen rearrangement and a total synthesis of erythronolide B. As an NIH postdoctoral fellow, Vy pursued training in organometallic and supramolecular chemistry with Robert Bergman and Kenneth Raymond at Berkeley. She began her independent academic career at the University of Toronto, where she was promoted with tenure and named the Adrian Brook Professor. After six years in Canada, Vy returned to the United States to assume a professorship at her alma mater, UC Irvine. Professor Dong’s research team is interested in new reaction methods, enantioselective catalysis, and natural product synthesis.

My Sessions