College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences


The Department of Chemistry is pleased to recognize an outstanding graduate student, Courtney Ngai, with the 2022 Women in Science Award and $1,000. Courtney is a synthetic chemist developing self-assembled, catalytically active metal-organic cage complexes. In particular, she is developing strategies to include functional groups into cages that allow them to perform biomimetic catalysis without interfering with the desired self-assembly. Her research has resulted in six published papers at UC Riverside (and eight total), including two first-author papers in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Many of these papers involve particularly complex and unusual chemical systems, and Professor Hooley credits Courtney with having the skill and perseverance required to unravel them in each case.

Beyond research, Courtney has been very active in teaching and outreach. She has served as head TA for a large organic chemistry course and helped develop “flipped classroom” components in organic chemistry lab courses. Courtney has also volunteered as a judge for the Riverside County Science Fair, helped write and grade exams for the SoCal Science Olympiad, has mentored other women about graduate school through the Women’s Resource Center Graduate Mentoring Program, and has led science demonstrations for children as part of ACS National Chemistry Week.


Courtney came to UCR after earning her bachelor’s degree at UC Davis. She expects to complete her PhD this summer, after which she will pursue a career in higher education.

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