Resnick Institute

Past Postdoctoral Scholars

James Blakemore

James Blakemore

2014 Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar

James Blakemore was raised in Kansas and studied as an undergraduate student at Wichita State University. He graduated summa cum laude in 2007 with a BS in chemistry and a BA in spanish with a minor in russian. James then enrolled at Yale University, where he completed his PhD in chemistry in 2012. He then joined Harry Gray’s group as a postdoctoral fellow in the NSF Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels, prior to receiving his Resnick fellowship. James' research focused on using the tools of inorganic chemistry to address challenges in catalysis, solar-energy conversion, and sustainability.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry B. Gray

Sonja Francis

Sonja Francis

2015 Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar

Sonja Francis was born in the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She graduated from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine with first class honours in a BSc chemistry and management. For her graduate studies, she moved to Canada where she earned a PhD in chemistry at the University of Alberta in 2013 under the supervision of Steven Bergens. Her research focused on the development of alkaline alcohol fuel-cell catalysts. Sonja joined Caltech in 2014 and worked in the Lewis research group developing catalysts and product analysis methods for light driven and dark electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction. This reaction is important as it is a potential source of carbon neutral fuels and/or commodity chemicals.

Faculty Sponsor: Nathan S. Lewis

Jing-Shun Huang

Jing-Shun Huang

2014 Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar

Jing-Shun worked in organic photovoltaics employing plasmon-enhanced long-distance energy transfer. Prior to arriving at Caltech, he spent two years at Yale University as a postdoctoral associate investigating Förster resonance energy transfer to improve the quantum yields of incident photons in polymer solar cells —and achieved a 38% increase in power conversion efficiency. Prior to arriving at Yale, he received his PhD in photonics and optoelectronics from National Taiwan University, where his work involved the invention of transition metal oxide inks for optical spacers in polymer solar cells, the development of organic-inorganic hybrid solar cells, and the design of ZnO nanostructures.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

Moureen Kemei

Moureen Kemei

2014 Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar

Moureen completed her PhD at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she studied the structure-property relationships in functional materials in the group of Professor Ram Seshadri. Her research has demonstrated that exchange interactions often couple strongly to the structure of magnetic materials, giving rise to long-range structural distortions. She has resolved the ground state structure of several spinel oxides—and these results are now guiding the prediction and interpretation of the properties of these magnetic materials. At Caltech, Moureen systematically investigated the electrochemical processes that occur in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) cathode materials. Her aim was to develop an accurate thermodynamic model of defect chemistry in SOFC cathode materials that would provide a framework for understanding transport mechanisms and cathode performance. The ultimate goal of her research was to establish universal guidelines for designing efficient SOFC cathode materials.

Faculty Sponsor: Sossina M. Haile

Research Highlight
Christopher Prier

Christopher Prier

2014 Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar

Christopher hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He obtained his BA in chemistry and biochemistry in 2009 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he conducted undergraduate research in organic chemistry in the laboratory of Professor Madeleine M. Joullié. In the same year, he began his graduate studies at Princeton University under the supervision of Professor David W. C. MacMillan. At Princeton his research focused on applications of photoredox catalysis, in which visible light is employed to promote chemical reactions. At Caltech, Chris pursued the engineering of enzymes for environmentally-benign chemical synthesis.

Faculty Sponsor: Frances H. Arnold

Research Highlight