• Stanford scholar and Purdue PhD seeking for faculty position in analytical chemistry
• Research of reaction acceleration studied by mass spectrometry highlighted in multiple international news (Chemistry World, C&EN, X-MOL)
• Leadership experience as an elected president in local chapter of national chemistry honor society

Honors & Awards

  • ASMS Postdoctoral Career Development Award, American Society for Mass Spectrometry (2022 Jul 1)
  • Purdue InnovatED Award, The Purdue Graduate School (2022 Jan)
  • Interviewed and highlighted in C&EN, 99(25), American Chemical Society (2021 Jul 8)
  • Interviewed and highlighted in Chemistry World, The Royal Society of Chemistry (2021 Jul 7)
  • ASMS Graduate Student Travel Award, American Society for Mass Spectrometry (2021 Jul 29)
  • Purdue Graduate Student Government Travel Grant, PGSG, Purdue University (2021 Apr 23)
  • Highlighted in Chemistry World, The Royal Society of Chemistry (2020 Nov 30)
  • Highlighted in Purdue News, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University (2020 Nov 12)
  • Thomas W. Keough Graduate Scholarship, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University (2020 Apr 16)
  • Women in Science Program Travel Grant, College of Science, Purdue University (2019 Apr 4)
  • Featured in C&EN, 96 (35), Chemical & Engineering News, American Chemical Society (2018 Sep 3)
  • Henry Bohn Hass Memorial Fellowship, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University (2018 May 5)
  • National Phi Lambda Upsilon Travel Grant, Phi Lambda Upsilon, National Chemistry Honor Society (2018 Jun 14)
  • Excellent Graduate Thesis Award, Beijing Normal University (2016 Jun)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • President, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Nu Chapter (2019 - 2020)
  • Vice President, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Nu Chapter (2018 - 2019)
  • Treasurer, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Nu Chapter (2017 - 2018)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Purdue University (2021)
  • Bachelor of Science, Beijing Normal University, Chemistry (2016)

Stanford Advisors


  • R. Graham Cooks, Roy Helmy, Yangjie Li, Yong Liu. "United States Patent US16/245,703 Methods for Analyzing Stability of an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient", Purdue Research Foundation, Jan 11, 2019

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Yangjie Li received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry with Excellent Graduation Thesis Award in Organic Chemistry from Beijing Normal University in 2016. After graduation, Yangjie began her graduate studies and earned a PhD degree in 2021 focusing on Analytical Chemistry at Purdue University under the supervision of Professor R. Graham Cooks. In Aston Labs for Mass Spectrometry, Yangjie has contributed to multiple research projects with a focus on droplet chemistry at interfaces as well as high throughput experimentation by ambient ionization mass spectrometry under Merck-Purdue Center for Measurement Science, National Science Foundation, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Her research studies using mass spectrometry for synthesis and analysis, focusing on both the applications and the mechanisms of reaction acceleration at air/solution and solid/solution interfaces, were highlighted by CEN and Chemistry World. With a keen eye for detail, Yangjie continues to look for new discoveries in droplet chemistry and mass spectrometry now in Zarelab at Stanford University as a Postdoctoral Scholar.

All Publications

  • Glass surface as strong base, 'green' heterogeneous catalyst and degradation reagent CHEMICAL SCIENCE Li, Y., Huang, K., Morato, N. M., Cooks, R. 2021; 12 (28): 9816-9822


    Systematic screening of accelerated chemical reactions at solid/solution interfaces has been carried out in high-throughput fashion using desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and it provides evidence that glass surfaces accelerate various base-catalyzed chemical reactions. The reaction types include elimination, solvolysis, condensation and oxidation, whether or not the substrates are pre-charged. In a detailed mechanistic study, we provide evidence using nanoESI showing that glass surfaces can act as strong bases and convert protic solvents into their conjugate bases which then act as bases/nucleophiles when participating in chemical reactions. In aprotic solvents such as acetonitrile, glass surfaces act as 'green' heterogeneous catalysts that can be recovered and reused after simple rinsing. Besides their use in organic reaction catalysis, glass surfaces are also found to act as degradation reagents for phospholipids with increasing extents of degradation occurring at low concentrations. This finding suggests that the storage of base/nucleophile-labile compounds or lipids in glass containers should be avoided.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/d1sc02708e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000667706500001

    View details for PubMedID 34349955

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8294000

  • Reaction Acceleration at Solid/Solution Interfaces: Katritzky Reaction Catalyzed by Glass Particles ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION Li, Y., Mehari, T., Wei, Z., Liu, Y., Cooks, R. 2021; 60 (6): 2929-2933


    The Katritzky reaction in bulk solution at room temperature is accelerated significantly by the surface of a glass container compared to a plastic container. Remarkably, the reaction rate is increased by more than two orders of magnitude upon the addition of glass particles with the rate increasing linearly with increasing amounts of glass. A similar phenomenon is observed when glass particles are added to levitated droplets, where large acceleration factors are seen. Evidence shows that glass acts as a "green" heterogeneous catalyst: it participates as a base in the deprotonation step and is recovered unchanged from the reaction mixture. Reaction acceleration at two separate interfaces is recognized in this study: i) air/solution phase acceleration, as is well known in microdroplets; ii) solid/solution phase, where such acceleration appears to be a new phenomenon.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/anie.202014613

    View details for Web of Science ID 000598637600001

    View details for PubMedID 33164315

  • High-Throughput Screening of Reductive Amination Reactions Using Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry ORGANIC PROCESS RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT Logsdon, D. L., Li, Y., Sobreira, T., Ferreira, C. R., Thompson, D. H., Cooks, R. 2020; 24 (9): 1647-1657
  • Reaction acceleration at air-solution interfaces: Anisotropic rate constants for Katritzky transamination JOURNAL OF MASS SPECTROMETRY Li, Y., Mehari, T. F., Wei, Z., Liu, Y., Cooks, R. 2021; 56 (4): e4585


    To disentangle the factors controlling the rates of accelerated reactions in droplets, we used mass spectrometry to study the Katritzky transamination in levitated Leidenfrost droplets of different yet constant volumes over a range of concentrations while holding concentration constant by adding back the evaporated solvent. The set of concentration and droplet volume data indicates that the reaction rate in the surface region is much higher than that in the interior. These same effects of concentration and volume were also seen in bulk solutions. Three pyrylium reagents with different surface activity showed differences in transamination reactivity. The conclusion is drawn that reactions with surface-active reactants are subject to greater acceleration, as seen particularly at lower concentrations in systems of higher surface-to-volume ratios. These results highlight the key role that air-solution interfaces play in Katritzky reaction acceleration. They are also consistent with the view that reaction-increased rate constant is at least in part due to limited solvation of reagents at the interface.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jms.4585

    View details for Web of Science ID 000549874500001

    View details for PubMedID 32686310

  • Accelerated Forced Degradation of Therapeutic Peptides in Levitated Microdroplets PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH Li, Y., Hu, Y., Logsdon, D. L., Liu, Y., Zhao, Y., Cooks, R. 2020; 37 (7): 138


    Forced degradation is critical to probe the stabilities and chemical reactivities of therapeutic peptides. Typically performed in bulk followed by LC-UV or LC-MS analysis, this traditional workflow consists of a reaction/analysis sequence and usually requires half a day to several days to form and measure the desired amounts of degradants. A faster method is needed to study peptide degradation in a shorter time in order to speed up the drug development process.In the new rapid method developed in this study, peptide degradation occurs in levitated aqueous microdroplets using the Leidenfrost effect.This two-minute reaction/analysis workflow allows major degradation pathways of Buserelin, Octreotide, Desmopressin and Leuprorelin to be studied. The reactions include deamidation, disulfide bond cleavage, ether cleavage, peptide bond hydrolysis, and oxidation.The accelerated forced degradation method requires a minimal amount of therapeutic peptide per stress condition, and the appropriate extent of degradation can be readily generated in seconds by adjusting the droplet levitation time. Levitated microdroplets should be applicable in pharmaceutical development to rapidly determine the intrinsic stability of therapeutic peptides and to aid formulation development by screening the effects of excipients on the stability of the peptides. Graphical abstract.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11095-020-02868-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000546938800001

    View details for PubMedID 32651732

  • Accelerated Reaction Kinetics in Microdroplets: Overview and Recent Developments ANNUAL REVIEW OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY, VOL 71 Wei, Z., Li, Y., Cooks, R., Yan, X., Johnson, M. A., Martinez, T. J. 2020; 71: 31-51


    Various organic reactions, including important synthetic reactions involving C-C, C-N, and C-O bond formation as well as reactions of biomolecules, are accelerated when the reagents are present in sprayed or levitated microdroplets or in thin films. The reaction rates increase by orders of magnitude with decreasing droplet size or film thickness. The effect is associated with reactions at the solution-air interface. A key factor is partial solvation of the reagents at the interface, which reduces the critical energy for reaction. This phenomenon is of intrinsic interest and potentially of practical value as a simple, rapid method of performing small-scale synthesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1146/annurev-physchem-121319-110654

    View details for Web of Science ID 000530683600002

    View details for PubMedID 32312193

  • A BODIPY-carbazole hybrid as a fluorescent probe: the design, synthesis, and discrimination of surfactants and the determination of the CMC values ANALYST Niu, X., Xu, Q., Li, A., Li, Y., Zhang, X., Zhang, Y., Xing, G. 2019; 144 (23): 6866-6870


    Surfactants play important roles in chemical industries and have become well-known environmental pollutants owing to their extensive use in different fields. In this work, we reported a fluorescent probe, namely, BDP-Zn2+ for the discrimination of four kinds of surfactants and the determination of CMC values. BDP-Zn2+ was composed of covalently linked BODIPY, carbazole, N,N-bis(2-pyridylmethyl)ethylenediamine (BPEA) and zinc ions to fabricate a novel push-pull molecular structure. Upon the addition of surfactants, the probe exhibited a turn-on fluorescence response and the emission was enhanced on increasing the surfactant concentrations. This indicated that the fluorescence intensity and the ratios of the emission at 607 nm to that at 514 nm as fingerprints could be used to identify the CMC values of the surfactants. Our current work provides an alternative method to efficiently discriminate different surfactants for the further studies of their physical and chemical functions.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c9an01940e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000498558200005

    View details for PubMedID 31670735

  • Accelerated Forced Degradation of Pharmaceuticals in Levitated Microdroplet Reactors CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL Li, Y., Liu, Y., Gao, H., Helmy, R., Wuelfing, W., Welch, C. J., Cooks, R. 2018; 24 (29): 7349-7353


    Forced degradation is a method of studying the stability of pharmaceuticals in order to design stable formulations and predict drug product shelf life. Traditional methods of reaction and analysis usually take multiple days, and include LC-UV and LC-MS product analysis. In this study, the reaction/analysis sequence was accelerated to be completed within minutes using Leidenfrost droplets as reactors (acceleration factor: 23-188) and nanoelectrospray ionization MS analysis. The Leidenfrost droplets underwent the same reactions as seen in traditional bulk solution experiments for three chemical degradations studied. This combined method of accelerated reaction and analysis has the potential to be extended to forced degradation of other pharmaceuticals and to drug formulations. Control of reaction rate and yield is achieved by manipulating droplet size, levitation time and whether or not make-up solvent is added. Evidence is provided that interfacial effects contribute to rate acceleration.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/chem.201801176

    View details for Web of Science ID 000434074600009

    View details for PubMedID 29653016

  • Recent Progresses on Mitochondria-Targetable Fluorescent Probes CHINESE JOURNAL OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY Li, Y., Lu, Z., Liu, M., Xing, G. 2016; 36 (5): 962-975
  • A pyrene-functionalized Zinc(II)-BPEA complex: sensing and discrimination of ATP, ADP and AMP RSC ADVANCES Xu, Q., Lv, H., Lv, Z., Liu, M., Li, Y., Wang, X., zhang, Y., Xing, G. 2014; 4 (88): 47788-47792

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c4ra07923j

    View details for Web of Science ID 000343035800087