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Jenny Y. Yang

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Jenny Y. Yang
BornJenny Yue-fon Yang
🏳️ Nationality
🎓 Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (B.S.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.)
💼 Occupation
🏅 AwardsPresidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Sloan Research Fellowship
NSF Career Award

Jenny Yue-fon Yang (Chinese: 楊又芳)[1] is an American chemist. Yang researches inorganic and organometallic chemistry, electrocatalysis and materials science. She is an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine where she leads a research group focused on catalysis and solar fuels. Yang is a recipient of several awards including a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Sloan Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Early life and education[edit]

Jenny Yue-fon Yang[2] was born in the San Fernando Valley and raised in Chatsworth, Los Angeles. She is a second-generation Taiwanese-American.[1] Her parents encouraged her to pursue STEM careers. Yang's father is an electrical engineer. Her favorite class in high school was chemistry.[3]

As a freshman at University of California, Berkeley, Yang worked as a researcher in a geochemistry lab studying contaminants at nuclear waste sites. She completed a summer internships at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory where she developed an interest in researching alternatives to fossil fuels.[3] Yang completed a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry at Berkeley in 2001 and her doctor of philosophy in inorganic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007.[4][2] While at MIT, Yang played women's ice hockey as a way to network with other female students.[3] Her dissertation was titled Distal hydrogen-bonding effects and cofacial bimetallic salen architectures for oxygen activation chemistry. Her doctoral advisor was Daniel G. Nocera.[2]


Yang completed her postdoctoral work at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and later became a staff scientist there. In 2011, she worked at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at the California Institute of Technology. In 2013, Yang joined the faculty at University of California, Irvine as an assistant professor of chemistry.[3] She leads a research group focused on catalysis and solar fuels.[4]


An example of a Nitride studied by the Yang Research Group.

Yang's main topics of research include inorganic and organometallic chemistry, electrocatalysis as well as materials science.[4][5] Her independent career research focuses primarily on inorganic and organometallic chemistry. In 2015, the Yang group published a paper studying the role of hydrides in the formation and reaction of synthetic fuels. In this work, researchers discovered an intricate connection between the formation of metal hydrides and the ability to efficiently convert CO2 into fuels.[6] Yang’s most recently published paper, "pH-Dependent Reactivity of a Water-Soluble Nickel Complex: Hydrogen Evolution vs Selective Electrochemical Hydride Generation",explored the electrocatalytic reduction of chemicals into fuels.[7] This work studied mechanisms for hydrogen evolution reaction electrocatalysts and the dependence of reaction rate upon pH. The data showed useful information about the range of pH's that the hydrogen evolution reaction electrocatalysts can function at.[7] More examples of Yang's contributions to the fields of inorganic and organometallic chemistry are her studies on the relationship of nitrogen single bonds with their free energies,[8] the impact of ligands which can inherit their donor strength,[9] and the ability to change the characteristics of a surface using both covalent and noncovalent electron transfers.[10]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2014, Yang was the winner of a Department of Energy Early Career Research Award.[1] She was recently awarded Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry. Prior to this, she has received awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2017), the Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow (2017), Research Corporation Advanced Energy Materials Scialog Fellow (2017), and the 2016 National Science Foundation CAREER Award.[5] In 2018, Yang was appointed into the 2018 class of CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Yang is married to Robert J. Nielsen, a computational chemist.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 楊, 婷專 (January 13, 2017). "台裔學者獲美工程師最高榮譽". Sina Daily News (in 中文). Sina Corp. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Yang, Jenny Yue-fon (2007). "Distal hydrogen-bonding effects and cofacial bimetallic salen architectures for oxygen activation chemistry". Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "How a girl who cared about our planet became a leader in clean energy research – Sally Ride Science". Sally Ride Science. May 9, 2016. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Directory | UCI Department of Chemistry". www.chem.uci.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "UC Irvine - Faculty Profile System". www.faculty.uci.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  6. Tsay, Charlene; Livesay, Brooke N.; Ruelas, Samantha; Yang, Jenny Y. (2015-11-02). "Solvation Effects on Transition Metal Hydricity". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 137 (44): 14114–14121. doi:10.1021/jacs.5b07777. ISSN 0002-7863.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tsay, Charlene; Ceballos, Bianca M.; Yang, Jenny Y. (2018-10-08). "pH-Dependent Reactivity of a Water-Soluble Nickel Complex: Hydrogen Evolution vs Selective Electrochemical Hydride Generation". Organometallics. doi:10.1021/acs.organomet.8b00558. ISSN 0276-7333.
  8. Chantarojsiri, Teera; Reath, Alexander H.; Yang, Jenny Y. (2018-10-02). "Cationic Charges Leading to an Inverse Free-Energy Relationship for N−N Bond Formation by MnVI Nitrides". Angewandte Chemie. 130 (43): 14233–14238. doi:10.1002/ange.201805832. ISSN 0044-8249.
  9. Thammavongsy, Zachary; Cunningham, Drew W.; Sutthirat, Natwara; Eisenhart, Reed J.; Ziller, Joseph W.; Yang, Jenny Y. (2018). "Adaptable ligand donor strength: tracking transannular bond interactions in tris(2-pyridylmethyl)-azaphosphatrane (TPAP)". Dalton Transactions. 47 (39): 14101–14110. doi:10.1039/c8dt03180k. ISSN 1477-9226.
  10. Hanna, Caitlin M.; Sanborn, Christopher D.; Ardo, Shane; Yang, Jenny Y. (2018-04-06). "Interfacial Electron Transfer of Ferrocene Immobilized onto Indium Tin Oxide through Covalent and Noncovalent Interactions". ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 10 (15): 13211–13217. doi:10.1021/acsami.8b01219. ISSN 1944-8244.
  11. "Announcing the 2018 Class of CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars". CIFAR. September 6, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-29.

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