Alumni Resnick Graduate Research Fellow
Kai graduated from Caltech with a PhD in chemistry, where he worked in the research group of Prof. Frances Arnold. He obtained his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Zhejiang University, China. Before graduate school, Kai researched different areas of chemistry, including organic synthesis, organometallics and chemical biology. His undergraduate research on direct carbon‒hydrogen bond functionalization for streamlined synthesis of valuable molecules highlighted green chemistry and encouraged him to think about how to develop new methods for sustainable synthesis. He joined Prof. Arnold's lab in 2015, where he focused on the use of directed evolution for making new enzymes to catalyze reactions unprecedented in the natural world. His research aimed to provide sustainable access to high-value chemicals that are unmatched by traditional chemical methods, with broad applications in pharmaceutical development, chemical biology, material science and others.
Kai received the 2020 Milton and Francis Clauser Doctoral Prize and a Herbert Newby McCoy Award for his thesis research. The Clauser Prize is given to a PhD candidate whose thesis is judged by a Faculty Board to exhibit significant new work, ingenuity, and originality, and to have the greatest potential to open new avenues of human thought and endeavor. The McCoy Awards honor outstanding research achievements by Caltech graduate students in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Kai was also part of a team that won the 2016 Dow-SISCA Grand Prize for the project, "Sustainable BioCatalytic Carbon-Silicon Bond Formation".
Kai is currently a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Jennifer A. Doudna at University of California, Berkeley.
RSI Research: Biocatalytic Method for Construction of Highly Strained Carbocycles
Faculty Adviser: Frances H. Arnold