Dean Toste to become new Chair of Chemistry in July

Dean Toste (center front row) with current and former students in 2022.

By Marge d’Wylde

The College of Chemistry is delighted to announce that Dean Toste will serve as the next chair of the Department of Chemistry, effective July 1, 2023. He will step into the roll after Matthew Francis who has been Chair for the last five years. We are very grateful for Matt’s exemplary service during that time.

Dean was born in 1971 in Terceira, Azores, Portugal. He moved to Canada with his family as a young boy. While at the University of Toronto, he majored in chemistry and biochemistry and went on to obtain an M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry. He received his Ph.D. with Barry Trost at Stanford in 2000 and then went to a postdoctoral appointment with Robert Grubbs at Caltech. 

Dean has been a member of the chemistry faculty since 2002, when he was appointed assistant professor by then-chair Judith Klinman. As a world-renowned synthetic organic chemist, his current research primarily focuses on the development and study of catalysts, catalytic reactions, and methods to address challenges in chemical synthesis and energy. During his time at Berkeley, over 50 Ph.D. students, more than 100 post-doctoral fellows, and numerous undergraduate students have been part of the Toste lab. He is a Faculty Scientist in the Chemical Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and holds the Gerald K. Branch Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry. 

Dean Toste on the occasion of delivering the Max Tishler Prize lecture at Harvard. 

Dean is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences (2020), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2018), and Fellow of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada (2015). Among his many honors, he has received the Humboldt Research Award (2016), American Chemical Society, Creativity in Synthetic Organic Chemistry Award (2015), and a UC Berkeley Miller Professorship (2014) to name just a few.

Dean is a member of the Novartis-Berkeley Translational Chemical Biology Institute which combines Novartis expertise in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry with Berkeley’s expertise in covalent chemoproteomics and chemistry methodologies. The Institute is intended to create collaborations aimed at unlocking intractable drug targets, discovering new therapeutic modalities, and accelerating discovery of new medicines in human diseases. Dean’s UC Berkeley co-researchers at the Institute include Daniel Nomura (Institute Director), Thomas Maimone, Ziyang Zhang, and James Olzmann.

Dean’s service to the campus community has also been admirable. He played an instrumental role as a member of UC Berkeley’s Research Recovery Committee, which was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading campus recovery efforts in physical/chemical sciences research. 

To learn more about Dean’s research, please visit