Resnick Institute

Current Postdoctoral Scholars

Gwen Bailey

Gwendolyn A. Bailey

2018 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Originally from the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada, Gwen completed her PhD in chemistry with Prof. Deryn Fogg at the University of Ottawa. There, she studied the intrinsic reactivity and decomposition of the active species in ruthenium-catalyzed olefin metathesis, an exceptionally powerful and “green” technology for building carbon-carbon bonds. She also built on these insights to improve catalyst productivity and reduce waste. Her research was recognized by the Inorganic Division of the Canadian Institute for Chemistry, with its 2018 “AGWIC” award for graduate work in inorganic chemistry, and by a postdoctoral fellowship from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). At Caltech, Gwen’s research will focus on new ways to activate carbon dioxide (CO2) using mixed-metal complexes. With emerging technologies for efficiently capturing CO2 directly from the atmosphere, this research could lead to powerful strategies for taking advantage of atmospheric CO2 to synthesize renewable, carbon-neutral liquid fuels.

Faculty Sponsor: Theodor Agapie

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

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

Lauren Grant

Lauren N. Grant

2019 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Lauren obtained her BS with high honors in chemistry in 2015 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked in the lab of Professor John Arnold studying niobium imido and nitrido complexes. She studied these very reactive metal-nitrogen multiple bonds towards the functionalization of organic molecules with nitrogen. She completed her PhD in the lab of Professor Daniel Mindiola at the University of Pennsylvania in 2019, where she studied the synthesis and reactivity of early transition metal ligand multiple bonds, as well as the reactivity of the phosphaethynolate reagent with early transition metals. These complexes, again containing reactive metal-nitrogen and metal-phosphorous bonding interactions, are of interest for the potential application of functionalization of molecules with nitrogen or phosphorous in a facile manner, and more sustainably with the assistance of the transition metal.

At Caltech, Lauren will work in Professor Jonas Peters’ lab developing synthetic models of the iron molybdenum cofactor, the cluster that assists the enzyme nitrogenase in nitrogen fixation. The process of nitrogen fixation is the critical conversion of dinitrogen to ammonia, which in turn is a necessary chemical transformation for global food supply and many other industries. In creating structural analogues of these complexes, the target of this research is to determine what is special about this naturally occurring cofactor of the nitrogenase enzyme, which can conduct nitrogen fixation under facile conditions compared to the energy consuming Haber-Bosch process, the industrial conversion of dinitrogen to ammonia. By using earth abundant metals in her research, Lauren hopes to find more sustainable, inexpensive, and effective methods to accomplish these life-sustaining chemical transformations.

Faculty Sponsor: Jonas C. Peters

Andrew J. Martinolich

Andrew J. Martinolich

2018 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Andy obtained his PhD in chemistry in 2017 at Colorado State University under the advisement of Professor James Neilson, where he investigated low temperature solid state reaction pathways that influence the formation of materials with interesting physical and electronic properties. Andy is currently working with Professor Kim See in the department of chemistry to develop new materials that will promote next-generation battery technologies beyond lithium. Specifically, he's interested in the design and preparation of solid state divalent ion conductors, which would enable solid-state magnesium ion batteries. Outside of the lab he's passionate about trail running and exploring in the mountains, and hopes to contribute to the sustainable energy infrastructure required to preserve such natural resources for future generations.

Faculty Sponsor: Kimberly A. See

Guannan Qu

Guannan Qu

2019 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Guannan grew up in China and received his BS from Tsinghua University in 2014, and his PhD from Harvard University in 2019. His research centers on the design of novel real-time control algorithms to ensure the safe and efficient operation of energy systems with high penetration of renewable energy sources. This is challenging due to the high volatility of renewable generation, but also important because only after the adversarial effects of the volatility are mitigated can we achieve a sufficiently high penetration of renewables, which is essential for the sustainability of human society.

Faculty Sponsor: Steven H. Low

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