Resnick Institute

Current Postdoctoral Scholars

Zakaria Al Balushi

Zakaria Al Balushi

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Zakaria received his PhD in materials science and engineering (2017), his MS (2012) and BS (2011) in engineering science all from The Pennsylvania State University. During his graduate work, Zak focused on MOCVD growth, characterization and integration of electronic and photonic materials from thin films to atomically thin layers. At Caltech, his research will focus on designing semiconductor heterojunctions for highly efficient light emitters comprising of two-dimensional and layered materials.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

Chengying Bao

Chengying Bao

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Chengying received his PhD in optics from Tsinghua University in 2016. He then worked as a postdoctral researcher at Purdue University. His previous work focused on the generation of frequency combs, arrays of evenly spaced optical frequencies. At Caltech, he will work on using this light source for rapid and sensitive methane leak detection, which may advance the technology for use with natural gas energy sources.

Faculty Sponsor: Kerry J. Vahala

Tina Boville

Christina E. Boville

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Tina earned her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Colorado, where she studied chemical biology. While in Colorado, Tina became interested in laboratory sustainability as a member of the Green Labs program. Her efforts expanded laboratory recycling initiatives, and encouraged her interest in sustainable science and green chemistry. At Caltech, Tina will work with Frances Arnold to design new enzymes that create valuable products while following green chemistry principles.

Faculty Sponsor: Frances H. Arnold

Kurt Dahlstrom

Kurt M. Dahlstrom

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Kurt was raised on a grain farm in North Dakota where he developed an interest in understanding how to sustainably produce the world’s food. He majored in the biological sciences as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago before obtaining his PhD in microbiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth by studying bacterial signaling in the laboratory of George O’Toole. At Caltech, he will research how the microbes that colonize the roots of food crops compete and collaborate with one another to form communities that govern plant health and yield. His aim is to learn how to manipulate the composition of these microbial communities in order to confer resistance to disease or drought upon the crops.

Faculty Sponsor: Dianne K. Newman

Marcus Drover

Marcus Drover

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Marcus began his chemistry career at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL (Canada), having completed a BSc (Hons.) degree in 2012 with Prof. Francesca M. Kerton in main group coordination chemistry with an emphasis on ‘green polymer’ applications. In 2016, he was granted his doctorate in chemistry from the University of British Columbia (UBC) under the co-supervision of Profs. Laurel L. Schafer and Jennifer A. Love. At UBC, Marcus studied new reactions aimed at the synthesis of phosphorus-containing agrochemicals. As a PhD student, Marcus was also a Michael-Smith visiting scholar at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Prof. Andrew S. Weller. As a result of his thesis work, Marcus was awarded the 2016 Canadian Institute for Chemistry’s inorganic division award for graduate research. At Caltech, Marcus is working with Prof. Jonas C. Peters to identify new methods for the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2), a waste/greenhouse gas, to methanol (CH3OH) – a fuel.

Faculty Sponsor: Jonas C. Peters

Haohua Huo

Haohua Huo

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Haohua obtained his BSc degree in chemistry from Xiamen University, China and completed his PhD at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany, in 2016. At Marburg, under the supervision of Prof. Eric Meggers, he became interested in using green and sustainable energy to promote chemical reactions, while researching visible-light-activated asymmetric catalysis. At Caltech, he works with Prof. Gregory C. Fu on developing new sustainable reactions for synthesis that use earth-abundant nickel rather than precious metals as catalysts. He aims to develop a new approach for efficient and economical synthesis of pharmaceutical molecules.

Faculty Sponsor: Gregory C. Fu

Allegra L. Liberman-Martin

Allegra L. Liberman-Martin

2016 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Allegra obtained her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Scripps College. She completed her PhD in chemistry at UC Berkeley with Profs. T. Don Tilley and Robert G. Bergman. At UC Berkeley, she developed a strategy to reversibly control the reactivity of platinum complexes by addition of zinc, silicon, or boron Lewis acids. These studies suggested ways to improve catalyst design for hydrocarbon functionalization reactions. At Caltech, Allegra is working with Prof. Robert H. Grubbs to increase the efficiency of Grubbs olefin metathesis catalysts with nitrogen-containing substrates. These approaches require fewer reagents and result in fewer byproducts than conventional industrial processes, which may help create sustainable methods for the construction of polymers.

Faculty Sponsor: Robert H. Grubbs

Carlos Read

Carlos G. Read

2016 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Carlos was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He obtained his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and physics from Utah State University in 2011. For his graduate studies, he moved to Penn State where he obtained his PhD in chemistry in 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Raymond E. Schaak. At Penn State, he worked on the synthesis and characterization of heterostructured nanoparticles with an emphasis on catalytic and photocatalytic applications. At Caltech, his research focuses on developing new heterogeneous electrocatalysts for energy-relevant reactions, such as carbon dioxide reduction, hydrogen evolution, and oxygen evolution, which are promising routes for the production of renewable chemicals and fuels.

Faculty Sponsor: Nathan S. Lewis

Matthew Welborn

Matthew Welborn

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Matt received his BS in chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. There, he got started in sustainability research, working with Prof. Graeme Henkelman on catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells. His PhD work at MIT with Prof. Troy Van Voorhis concerned new theoretical methods for simulating solar materials. Now at Caltech, Matt is working with Prof. Thomas F. Miller III to model the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a key process in natural fertilization of plants and a limiting factor in crop yields. His research seeks to develop the theoretical tools needed to understand the catalytic action of nitrogenase, the enzyme that performs this reaction at a molecular level.

Faculty Sponsor: Thomas F. Miller

Julian G. West

Julian G. West

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Julian is a Canadian-American chemist who firmly believes that doing chemistry sustainably and environmentally responsibly is one of the grand challenges facing the world today. From his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) studying safe, light-driven fluorination reactions to his doctoral research at Princeton University designing reactions catalyzed by earth-abundant elements, he has been driven to invent chemical processes that are safe, sustainable, and useful. This passion for green chemistry continues in his appointment at the Resnick Sustainability Institute, where he is working with Profs. Harry Gray and Brian Stoltz to develop new electrocatalytic methods for producing low carbon fuels, pharmaceuticals, and high-performance materials.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry B. Gray

Xiaomei Zeng

Xiaomei Zeng

2017 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Xiaomei obtained her PhD in materials science & engineering from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, where she developed a strong interest in the development of materials for sustainable energy applications and green chemistry. Her research at NTU focused on the development of inorganic ceramic materials, specifically shape memory ceramics as smart functional materials for energy damping applications. At Caltech, Xiaomei will work with Professor Katherine Faber to design new electrolytes for solid state lithium ion batteries. She aims to enhance the mechanical reliability and electrochemical performance of these batteries through exploration of suitable composite agents.

Faculty Sponsor: Katherine T. Faber

Alessandro Zocca

Alessandro Zocca

2018 Resnick Affiliate Postdoctoral Scholar

Alessandro’s research focuses on developing new mathematical models that describe the intrinsic uncertainty affecting energy networks, capturing the complicated spatio-temporal correlations of renewable energy generation and the interplay of this randomness with physical network constraints. His end goal is to assess the maximum renewable energy penetration that can be sustained while maintaining a target level of reliability and to design distributed control policies for new technologies (e.g. energy storage devices, smart buildings and appliances, and electric vehicles) that could effectively mitigate the volatile nature of renewable power generation. Alessandro studied applied mathematics in Padova (BS 2010), Cambridge (MS 2011) and Eindhoven University of Technology (PhD 2015). After a first postdoc at CWI in Amsterdam, he joined Caltech as a postdoctoral researcher with a NWO Rubicon personal grant to work with professors Adam Wierman and Steven Low. An outdoor enthusiast, he is an avid climber and hiker.

Faculty Collaborators: Adam Wierman and Steven H. Low