Professor Yi Lu
Winner: 2020 Joseph Chatt Award
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
For elucidating design principles of artificial metalloproteins to gain novel and deeper insights into the structure and function of natural systems.
Celebrate Professor Yi Lu
Professor Lu’s research interests lie at the interface between chemistry and biology, and his group is developing new chemical approaches to provide deeper insight into biological systems. At the same time, they take advantage of recently developed biological tools to advance many areas in chemistry. Specific areas of current interests include:
a) Design and engineering of functional metalloproteins as environmentally benign catalysis in renewable energy generation and pharmaceuticals;
b) Developing a fundamental understanding of DNAzymes and their applications in environmental monitoring, medical diagnostics, and targeted drug delivery; and
c) Employing principles from biology for directed assembly of nanomaterials and developing their applications in photonics and sensing.Read full biography
Professor Yi Lu received his B.S. degree from Peking University in 1986, and Ph.D from University of California at Los Angeles in 1992 under Professor Joan S. Valentine. After two years of postdoctoral research in Professor Harry B. Gray’s group at the California Institute of Technology, Professor Lu started his independent career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994. He is now Jay and Ann Schenck Professor of Chemistry in the Departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Bioengineering. He is also a member of the Centre for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology and the Carl R. Woese Institute of Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
For his contributions to science and education,Professor Lu has received numerous awards, including the Royal Society of Chemistry Applied Inorganic Chemistry Award (2015), Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC, 2015), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007), Early Career Award from the Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry (2007), Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor Award (2002), Camile Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1999), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1998), and Research Corporation Cottrell Scholars Award (1997). Research in his lab has resulted in more than 50 US and international patents as well as successful products in environmental monitoring (www.ANDalyze.com) and medical diagnostics.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
When I sent in my college applications, I chose chemistry as my major because I had an excellent chemistry teacher in my high school who made chemistry easy and fun to learn, making chemistry the only subject that I did not have to study hard to get an A in the class.
What is your favourite element?
My favourite element for many years has been copper, initially because of the beautiful blue colour it displays in its complexes with small organic molecules or proteins. Blue is my favourite colour, as I really like blue sky and the ocean. Copper exhibits a wide variety of chemical properties and biological functions that are fascinating. In recent years, iron has become my secondary favourite element, also because of the different beautiful colours it displays and versatile properties and functions it exhibits.