Cui Research Group
Research in our laboratory focuses on organic chemistry, catalysis, and medicinal chemistry. We are particularly interested in exploring new chemical processes that utilize earth-abundant and biocompatible catalysts to construct value-added molecules in a rapid and selective manner. 
Catalytic processes for rapid formation of multiple chemical bonds 
Our research efforts are devoted to the revealing of new catalytic reactivity that involves one-step selective formation of multiple carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds. Such reactivity would allow for effective construction of complex skeletons and polyfunctionalized molecules. Specifically, we are interested in new multicomponent cyclization systems that utilize simple and noncyclic starting materials for constructing heterocyclic and heteropolycyclic structures. Mechanistic study-guided catalyst design is used as a powerful tool to investigate new pathways for solving some of the long standing problems. 
Selective functionalization of unsaturated hydrocarbons and medicinally relevant molecules
Further development of new transformations of unsaturated hydrocarbons will always bring exciting opportunities for synthetic chemistry and other applicable areas such as fine chemical, pharmaceutical, and material sciences. In our lab, we are exploring new types of catalytic activation of heterocyclic small rings for selective functionalization of unactivated alkenes and related unsaturated hydrocarbons, as well as a broad scope of medicinally relevant terpenoids. Through the development of both transition and main group element-based catalysts, together with ligand design, these catalytic systems are expected to be able to effectively control and switch chemoselectivity and stereoselectivity. The catalytic processes developed in our group are applied for the syntheses of synthetically and pharmaceutically important molecules, agrochemicals, and functional materials.