Chris Vanderwal


4024B Frederick Reines Hall
Department of Chemistry
Mailing Address:

1102 Natural Sciences II
Department of Chemistry
University of California
Irvine, CA 92697-2025

Contact Info:

(949)-824-2210 (fax)


Chris Vanderwal was born in Germany (to Canadian parents). At the age of nearly five, young Chris moved with his parents to Ottawa, Canada, where he attended school, up to and including university. He received his Bachelor of Science degree (biochemistry) from the University of Ottawa in 1995, and then moved to Montreal for an internship in the Medicinal Chemistry Department at the Merck-Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research. He returned to the University of Ottawa for a Master of Science degree in organic chemistry, which he earned working with Professor Tony Durst. In 1998, Chris moved to sunny San Diego, where he studied under the supervision of Professor Erik Sorensen at The Scripps Research Institute. His doctoral training involved the synthesis of the cytotoxic natural product FR182877 and investigations into its biochemical mechanism of action. In addition to obtaining his Doctor of Philosophy degree at Scripps (2003), Chris also met his wife, Danielle Soenen, a classmate who received her doctorate working with Professor Dale Boger. Chris and Danielle then moved back to the cold, as he studied asymmetric catalysis with Professor Eric Jacobsen as a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. His work in the Jacobsen group involved the enantioselective addition of oxygen-centered nucleophiles to conjugate acceptors. Chris enthusiastically joined the Chemistry Department faculty at UC Irvine in 2005. Chris and Danielle are happy to be in sunny southern California once again, where they live with their son, daughter, dog, and turtle. In 2011, Chris was promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry with tenure, and was named a UCI Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow. In 2013, Chris was promoted to Professor.


Springer Heterocyclic Chemistry Award, 2020                                                                                                                                              A. R. Katritzky Junior Award in Heterocyclic Chemistry, International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry, 2017
ACS A. C. Cope Scholar Award, 2017
Craig Visiting Professorship, Australia National University, 2015
Journal of Organic Chemistry Outstanding Author of the Year, 2014
Novartis Chemistry Lectureship, 2013–2014
Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry of Japan Lectureship Award, 2012
UCI Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow, 2011–2013
Eli Lilly Grantee Award, 2011
AstraZeneca Award for Excellence in Chemistry, 2010
A.P. Sloan Fellowship, 2010
Amgen Young Investigator Award, 2009
National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 2008