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

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

Bradley Brennan

Bradley J. Brennan

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Brad obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry-cell-molecular biology at Drake University. There he became interested in renewable energy and sustainability. This led to internships at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Texas A&M University on projects relating to solar energy and biorenewable materials. He later obtained his doctorate in chemistry at Arizona State University, focusing on mimicking plant photosynthesis to harness solar energy. The energy research theme continued at Yale University's newly-minted Energy Sciences Institute where he interfaced light-absorbing dyes and catalysts to couple solar energy to chemical reactions (solar-to-fuels). At Caltech, his research focuses on preparation of new catalysts for solar-to-fuels devices. Brad’s aim is to link multi-metal systems capable of substantial charge density to solar-derived electricity for the production of energy-rich chemical products. These could be used for energy storage or as starting materials for production of fossil-fuel replacements.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry B. Gray

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

Michael Haibach

Michael Haibach

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Michael did his undergraduate study at the University of Chicago and got his PhD in chemistry from Rutgers University in 2014. At Rutgers, he worked on breaking carbon-hydrogen and carbon-oxygen bonds using transition metal catalysts under Prof. Alan S. Goldman. This included the discovery of a greener method for the synthesis of alcohols from an unreactive type of molecule found in biomass. At Caltech, Michael is working with Prof. Robert Grubbs on improving the catalytic dehydrogenation process. Catalytic dehydrogenation is a green chemical reaction that can transform an otherwise useless chemical using only non-toxic and abundant materials such as natural gas. His research is exploring ways to use this method to make chemicals that are relevant to human health.

Faculty Sponsor: Robert H. Grubbs

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

Deep Jariwala

Deep Jariwala

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Deep was born and brought up in India and completed his bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in 2010. As an undergraduate, Deep was a visiting summer student at Rice University for two consecutive summers where he worked on CVD synthesis of nanomaterials. He then joined Northwestern University as a graduate research assistant where he completed his PhD in materials science and engineering in 2015. At Northwestern, the focus of his research was investigation of opto-electronic properties and electronic circuit applications of heterostructure devices from two-dimensional (2D) materials. At Caltech, his major interests lie in developing nanophotonic architectures to enhance light absorption in 2D semiconductors and ultimate explore the efficiency limits in ultrathin photovoltaic cells comprising 2D materials.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

Akira Kudo

Akira Kudo

2016 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Akira works with Professor Julia Greer on new photovoltaic devices using micro- and nanolattices fabricated by the nanoscribe 3D printer. He graduated from Tohoku University, Japan, in 2009 (BEng) and recieved his PhD from MIT in 2016 from the departments of materials science and engineering. During his PhD course, he also had a summer internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Faculty Sponsor: Julia R. Greer

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