Chemical and Structural biology in biosynthesis

Nature has evolved the capacity to carry out many challenging chemical transformations of great interest to synthetic chemistry if they could be repurposed for targeted synthesis. However, our ability to construct de novo pathways for the cellular production of small molecule targets is still largely limited by 1) our knowledge gap for rationally manipulating enzyme activities and 2) the small scope of existing biocatalytic reactions compared with those used in synthetic chemistry.

Genome sequencing has revealed a vast repertoire of enzymes hidden in nature, suggesting that there is still a great potential to expand the repertoire of enzymatic transformations. Our group is interested in discovering and understanding new biosynthetic enzymes, and harnessing their activities to design and build artificial biosynthetic pathways for the production of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and biomaterials in living cells.

About us

Our enzyme-centric lab integrates both chemical and biological approaches to discover and elucidate new enzyme functions and biological pathways, which could impact human health, agriculture, and environment.


Students in our lab will have the opportunity to receive training at the interface of chemistry & biology, such as protein X-ray crystallgroaphy, natural product chemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, and synthetic biology.

Education & Diversity

We are committed to diversity in biochemical science and providing equal educational opportunity to the scientists of tomorrow. We welcome students, postdocs, and visiting scholars regardless of race, country of origin, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, or disability status.


Today we bid farewell to Chen and Shay. We wish them best of luck at Northwestern and Caltech when they start their new chapters as graduate students this fall (4/23/2023).

Congratulations to Chen for receiving the URCA grant this year (12/18/2022)

Our lab is awarded a ACS GCI grant to develop new biocatalytic methods to synthesize cyclic quaternary amino acids! (11/1/2022)

Joey Zhao, a senior undergraduate chemistry major student joined the lab. Welcome! (10/24/2022)

Today we bid farewell to our first visiting student, Emma. Good luck for your graduate school application! (8/20/22)

Christopher Perucho, a rising senior undergraduate biochemistry student joined the lab. Welcome! (6/24/2022)

Emma Chen from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will join our lab as a visiting undergraduate researcher for the summer, welcome! (6/14/2022)

Shay Xu joined our lab as a research assistant II, welcome! (6/1/2022)

Yuki and Ryan from the MCDB department joined our group as undergraduate researchers, welcome! (5/8/2022)

Chen Zhou and Dr. Shaonan Liu joined the group, welcome! (2/23/2022)

Welcome Dr. Jinmin Gao as our first postdoctoral scholar! (10/25/2021)

We welcome Wendy Wang as our newest undergraduate researcher! (9/24/2021)

Welcome Jinyang Wan and Larry Palato as our newest rotation students! (9/23/2021)

We welcome our newest rotation student Yimeng Huang! (9/15/2021)

Congratulations to Ben for being selected as a Summer 2021 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair’s Fellow! (6/14/2021)

Today we bid farewell to Zhongrui. He will start his new career at Scripps Institute! (6/11/2021)

Congratulations to Zixuan for receiving the Lucas Ransom Memorial Scholarship, Good Job Zixuan! (5/23/2021)

Congratulations to Jasper for receiving the Richard and Leslie Anderson Scholarship, Good Job Jasper! (5/8/2021)

Congratulations to Darwin for receiving the Gene and Susan Lucas Undergraduate Research Fund, Good Job Darwin! (4/29/2021)

Jin and Ben officially joined our lab, Welcome on board! (3/15/2021)

Congratulations to Jasper and Zixuan for being awarded the URCA Grant! (1/4/2021)

Welcome to our first rotation student in 2021, Asish! (1/1/2021)

Benjamin Jones joined us to do a short rotation project on protein engineering, welcome! (11/1/2020)

Hearty welcome to Zhongrui, who joined our lab as a research assisstant. Before came to UCSB, Zhongrui was a Master student in Prof. Peiyuan Qian’s lab (HKUST) and Prof. Wenjun Zhang’s lab (UC Berkeley) and he made seminal contributions to our understanding about colibactin biosynthesis. At UCSB, Zhongrui will focus on mechanistic understanding on enzymes involved in nontemplate-dependent biopolymerization processess. (11/1/2020)

Zixuan (UCSB, ’22) joined us as an undergraduate researcher, welcome! (10/3/2020)

Hearty welcome to our first rotation student, Jin! (10/3/2020)

Jasper (UCSB, ’22) joined us as an undergraduate reseracher, welcome! (9/12/2020)

Hai lab has officially opened its doors! (8/21/2020)

We are seeking highly motivated students and postdocs to join our group!

Join Us

We are hiring!

Contact info

Office: (1)-805-893-8085

Lab: (1)-805-893-8364



Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chem 1132,
University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9510

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