UCLA Engineer Yi Tang Named Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science

Yi Tang

UCLA Samueli


Feb 7, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Yi Tang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has been elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science — the world’s largest scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

The organization announced Jan. 31 its selection of the 505 new fellows from around the world for their major scientific and socially notable achievements. Tang, who holds The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Chair in Chemical Engineering, was one of seven UCLA faculty members elected to the 2022 class of fellows.

Tang, who also holds faculty appointments in bioengineering as well as chemistry and biochemistry leads research on natural product biosynthesis and biocatalysis. Chemicals produced by living organisms such as bacteria and plants are the basis for many types of drugs and agrochemicals. Tang’s research focuses on unlocking the complex biosynthetics pathways that make these natural products — figuring out the enzymes and other molecules involved, and how they facilitate chemical reactions for production. His lab has developed synthetic biology approaches to mine microbial genomes for discovery of new bioactive molecules. His research group also harnesses the catalytic power of enzymes to make drugs and other important consumer and industrial products. Tang has demonstrated and commercialized a biocatalytic approach to make the active ingredient of the cholesterol drug simvastatin.

Among the many honors received by Tang are the Charles Thom Award from the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology in 2019, the American Chemical Society’s Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry in 2014, the 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the 2012 National Institutes of Health Director’s Office Pioneer Award and the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 2012.

Tang has published more than 230 papers, advised 27 Ph.D. graduates, and supervised 25 postdoctoral scholars, 27 visiting scientists and nearly 50 undergraduate students. 

Prior to joining the UCLA faculty in 2004, Tang was a National Institutes of Health-supported postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He received a doctorate in chemical engineering from Caltech and a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

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