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Peng Liu

University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., Computational Organic Chemistry, University of California, 2010

Peng Liu received his B.S. from Peking University in China, his M.S. from the University of Guelph in Canada, and finally his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the United States! All three degrees are in Chemistry, with a specialization in Theoretical Organic Chemistry. He won several awards at UCLA, both during his studies as a Ph.D. student and after during his appointment as a post-doc; specifically he won the Chancellor's Award for Postdoctoral Research. He finally joined the Department of Chemistry of the University of Pittsburgh in 2014.


Reactivity and Selectivity Rules in Organic and Organometallic Reactions
We are developing computational models to quantitatively describe the origins of reactivity and selectivity in organocatalytic and transition metal-catalyzed reactions. We perform quantum mechanical calculations to explore the reaction mechanism, followed by thorough analysis on various stereoelectronic effects to predict how changes of the catalyst structure, substituents, and solvent affect rate and selectivity. We use quantitative energy decomposition methods to dissect the key interactions in the transition state and provide chemically meaningful interpretation to the computed reactivity and selectivity. We apply these computational studies to a broad range of organic and organometallic reactions, such as C–H and C–C bond activations, coupling reactions, olefin metathesis, and polymerization reactions. 
Catalyst Screening and Prediction
We are developing a multi-scale computational screening protocol which could efficiently rank the catalysts based on ligand-substrate interaction energies in the transition state. 
Applications of Computational Chemistry in Understanding Organic Chemistry
We are collaborating with experimental groups at Pitt and many other institutions to solve problems in organic chemistry using computational methods and programs. Our goal is to establish the most effective strategy to use modern computational methods and hardware to help address the grand challenges in synthetic chemistry. 


Title Position Email
Turki Alturaifi Graduate Student
Gabriel Cintron Graduate Student
Cheng Fang Graduate Student
Gang Lu Postdoctoral Fellow
Humair Omer Graduate Student
Kevin Quirion Graduate Student
Yanyan Wang Graduate Student
Most Cited Publications

"Computational Explorations of Mechanisms and Ligand-Directed Selectivities of Copper-Catalyzed Ullmann-Type Reactions." Gavin O Jones, Peng Liu, KN Houk, Stephen L Buchwald. Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"Suzuki− Miyaura Cross-Coupling of Aryl Carbamates and Sulfamates: Experimental and Computational Studies." Kyle W Quasdorf, Aurora Antoft-Finch, Peng Liu, Amanda L Silberstein, Anna Komaromi, Tom Blackburn, Stephen D Ramgren, KN Houk, Victor Snieckus, Neil K Garg. Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"Conversion of amides to esters by the nickel-catalysed activation of amide CN bonds." Liana Hie, Noah F Fine Nathel, Tejas K Shah, Emma L Baker, Xin Hong, Yun-Fang Yang, Peng Liu, KN Houk, Neil K Garg. Nature.
"Palladium-Catalyzed Meta-Selective C–H Bond Activation with a Nitrile-Containing Template: Computational Study on Mechanism and Origins of Selectivity." Yun-Fang Yang, Gui-Juan Cheng, Peng Liu, Dasheng Leow, Tian-Yu Sun, Ping Chen, Xinhao Zhang, Jin-Quan Yu, Yun-Dong Wu, KN Houk. Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"Mechanism of Photoinduced Metal-Free Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization: Experimental and Computational Studies." Xiangcheng Pan, Cheng Fang, Marco Fantin, Nikhil Malhotra, Woong Young So, Linda A Peteanu, Abdirisak A Isse, Armando Gennaro, Peng Liu, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski. Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Recent Publications

"Ruthenium-Catalyzed Reductive Cleavage of Unstrained Aryl─ Aryl Bonds: Reaction Development and Mechanistic Study." Jun Zhu, Peng-hao Chen, Gang Lu, Peng Liu, Guangbin Dong. Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"The Thermal Rearrangement of an NHC‐Ligated 3‐Benzoborepin to an NHC‐Boranorcaradiene." Masaki Shimoi, Ilia Kevlishvili, Takashi Watanabe, Steven J Geib, Katsuhiro Maeda, Dennis P Curran, Peng Liu, Tsuyoshi Taniguchi. Angewandte Chemie.
"Tuning the Reactivity of Cyclopropenes from Living Ring‐Opening Metathesis Polymerization (ROMP) to Single‐Addition and Alternating ROMP." Jessica K Su, Zexin Jin, Rui Zhang, Gang Lu, Peng Liu, Yan Xia. Angewandte Chemie.
"An enzymatic platform for the asymmetric amination of primary, secondary and tertiary C (sp 3)–H bonds." Yang Yang, Inha Cho, Xiaotian Qi, Peng Liu, Frances H Arnold. Nature chemistry.
"Diastereo-and Enantioselective CuH-Catalyzed Hydroamination of Strained Trisubstituted Alkenes." Sheng Feng, Hua Hao, Peng Liu, Stephen L Buchwald. ChemRxiv.