Pengfei HU, Ph. D.

Laboratory of Natural Product Synthesis and Synthetic Electrochemistry




Pengfei HU, Ph. D.

Laboratory of Natural Product Synthesis and Synthetic Electrochemistry




"Westlake University is a wonderful platform for researchers with true dedication, passion, persistence and imagination.”


Pengfei Hu was born in 1991 in Lu’an, Anhui province, China. He received Master’s degree (2014) at East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) under the supervision of Prof. Xiaofeng Tong. He then joined Prof. Scott A. Snyder’s group and earned his PhD degree in August 2019 at University of Chicago.From September 2019 to March 2021, Pengfei conducted postdoc research at Phil S. Baran’s lab at The Scripps Research Institute, where he was a Hewitt Foundation Fellow working on synthetic electrochemistry. Dr. Hu is currently an assistant professor at Westlake University since April 2021. His research interest is total synthesis of bioactive natural product, synthetic electrochemical chemistry, and medicinal chemistry.


Dr. Hu’s research focused on developing unconventional synthetic strategies and methodologies for highly efficient synthesis of complex natural products. His achievements includes,

1.utilizing a tandem Heck and ring contraction strategy for the first total synthesis of presilphiperfolan-8-ol, a sesquiterpene containing a highly strained trans-5-5 fused framework;

2.using quaternary centers to guide natural product synthesis by turning the traditional synthetic challenge into a beneficial element to simplify synthetic planning, which resulted a concise and scalable preparation of six conidiogenone family natural products;

3. the discovery of a Pd-catalyzed cyclization, C−O bond formation cascade featuring a Pd(II)-mediated CO bond formation on an unactivated C(sp3) center.

4.the development of an electroreductive coupling of unactivated ketones and olefins, in which the traditional nucleophilic ketyl radical could react with electron-neutral olefins.

Selected Honors and Awards

1. Hewitt Foundation Fellowship for Medical Research (2020)

2. Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad (2020)

3. Elizabeth R. Norton Prize for Excellence in Research in Chemistry (2019)

4. Bristol-Myers Squibb Graduate Fellowship in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (2018)

5. William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowship (2018)

6. Morris Selig Kharasch Lecture Graduate Fellowship (2018)

7. Chancellor Siwei Cheng’s Award (2014)

8. National Scholarship for Outstanding Graduate Students of China (2013)

Representative Publications(¶: equal contribution

1. Pengfei Hu, Byron K. Peters, Christian A. Malapit, Julien C. Vantourout, Pan Wang, Jinjun Li, Lucas Mele, Pierre-Georges Echeverria, Shelley D. Minteer, and Phil S. Baran. Electroreductive Olefin–Ketone Coupling. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 20979.

· Highlighted in Nature Reviews Chemistry (Davey, S. G. Nat. Rev. Chem. 2021, 5, 75).

2. Pengfei Hu,¶ Hyung Min Chi, Kenneth C. DeBacker, Xu Gong, Jonathan H. Keim, Ian Tingyung Hsu, Scott A. Snyder. Quaternary Center-Guided Synthesis: Concise Preparations of Complex Polycyclic Terpenes. Nature2019, 569, 703.

· Highlighted in UChicago News (

· Highlighted in Synfacts (Carreira, E. M.; Gillespie, R. J. Synfacts2019, 15, 970).

3. Heng Yi, Pengfei Hu, Scott A. Snyder. Development and Elucidation of a Pd-based Cyclization/Oxygenation Sequence for Natural Product Synthesis. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.2020, 59, 2674. 

4. Pengfei Hu, Scott A. Snyder. Enantiospecific Total Synthesis of the Highly Strained (−)-Presilphiperfolan-8-ol via a Pd-Catalyzed Tandem Cyclization. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2017, 139, 5007.

· Highlighted in the ACS Select Virtue Issue “Total Synthesis of Natural Products” (Baran, P. S. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2018, 140, 4751).

· Highlighted in Synfacts (Carreira, E. M.; Richter, M. J. R. Synfacts 2017, 13, 564).

5. Yiting Gu, Pengfei Hu, Chunjie Ni, Xiaofeng Tong. Phosphine-Catalyzed Addition/Cycloaddition Domino Reactions of β′-Acetoxy Allenoate: Highly Stereoselective Access to 2-Oxabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane and Cyclopenta[a]pyrrolizine. J. Am. Chem. Soc.2015, 137, 6400. 

6. Pengfei Hu, Jian Hu, Jiajun Jiao, Xiaofeng Tong. Amine-Promoted Asymmetric (4 + 2) Annulations for the Enantioselective Synthesis of Tetrahydropyridines: A Traceless and Recoverable Auxiliary Strategy. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.2013, 52, 5319.

Contact Information


We are actively recruiting talented postdocs, graduate students and undergrads.

Postdoc applicants with synthetic methodologies, synthetic electrochemistry and natural product synthesis backgrounds are welcome to apply. In particular we are looking for 1-2 postdocs with experiences on analytical electrochemistry.

Applicants should send CV, research summary (up to 5 pages) and two recommendation letters.

PhD applicants are welcomed to apply for the Westlake PhD program. Please contact the graduate office or email me directly.

Undergrad students interested in internship or research assistant positions are welcome to email me directly.