Resnick Institute

Past 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 focused on designing semiconductor heterojunctions for highly efficient light emitters comprising of two-dimensional and layered materials.

Zak is currently an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

James Blakemore

James Blakemore

2014 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

James 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.

James is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry B. Gray

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 worked with Frances Arnold to design new enzymes that create valuable products while following green chemistry principles.

Tina is Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Aralez Bio.

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 focused on preparation of new catalysts for solar-to-fuels devices. Brad explored linking 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.

Brad is currently a Senior Research Chemist at Versum Materials.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry B. Gray

Artur Davoyan

Artur Davoyan

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar and Kavli Nanoscience Institute Fellow

Artur's research focused on the physics of nanoscale structures for applications in energy harvesting. He received his BS from Saratov State University, Russia (2007) and PhD from Australian National University (2011).

Artur is currently an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

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 worked 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.

Marcus is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of Windsor.

Faculty Sponsor: Jonas C. Peters

Sonja Francis

Sonja A. Francis

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Sonja 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.

Sonja is currently a Lecturer in Chemistry at Princeton University.

Faculty Sponsor: Nathan S. Lewis

Michael Haibach

Michael C. 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 worked 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 explores ways to use this method to make chemicals that are relevant to human health.

Mike is currently a Senior Scientist at AbbVie.

Faculty Sponsor: Robert H. Grubbs

Jing-Shun Huang

Jing-Shun Huang

2014 Resnick 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.

Jing-Shun is currently a Research Scientist at Caelux.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

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, he developed nanophotonic architectures to enhance light absorption in 2D semiconductors and explored the efficiency limits in ultrathin photovoltaic cells from 2D materials.

Deep is currently an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry A. Atwater

Justin Jasper

Justin T. Jasper

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Justin researched sustainable water treatment technologies that conserve water resources while protecting the natural environment. He earned his PhD developing a novel open-water wetland cell that enhances the removal of nutrients and pharmaceuticals from wastewater effluent at UC Berkeley. This treatment technology has since moved from pilot-scale to the demonstration scale at the Prado Wetlands in Orange County. At Caltech, Justin worked on developing an off-the-grid electrochemical wastewater treatment system that generates bleach to disinfect wastewater, allowing water to be recycled for toilet flushing. System prototypes are currently deployed in regions where the infrastructure for conventional wastewater treatment is lacking, including locations in India, China, and South Africa. In 2015, Justin won the Dow-SISCA Runner-up Prize along with Cody Finke for the project, "Electrochemical+UV On-Site Wastewater Treatment".

Justin is currently an Anayltical Chemist at Mascoma.

Faculty Sponsor: Michael R. Hoffmann

Moureen Kemei

Moureen C. Kemei

2014 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.

Moureen is currently a Module Engineer at Intel Corporation.

Faculty Sponsor: Sossina M. Haile

Research Highlight
Akira Kudo

Akira Kudo

2016 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Akira's research focus in the Greer group was 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 studies, he completed an 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 worked 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.

Allegra is currently an Asstant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Chapman University.

Faculty Sponsor: Robert H. Grubbs

Yuanyue Liu

Yuanyue Liu

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Yuanyue received his BS from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2008, and PhD from Rice University in 2014, both in materials acience. Before joining Caltech, he spent one year at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as a postdoctoral fellow. His research focus at Caltech was on the computational study of novel materials for energy conversion, storage, and next-generation electronics.

Yuanyue is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

Faculty Sponsor: William A. Goddard

Zhu Liu

Zhu Liu

2015 Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar

Zhu's research focused on global sustainability accounting and the human impacts on the earth's systems in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. He conducted his doctoral study at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2013). Zhu was a visiting student at University of Cambridge (2012). He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Northwest University (2007) and a master’s degree in ecology from China Agricultural University (2009). He is a recipient of the Giorgio Ruffolo postdoctoral research fellowship in sustainability science at Harvard University (2013, 2014). His research on energy, environment and sustainability has been published in Nature, Nature Climate Change, PNAS, and other professional journals.

Zhu is currently a Lecturer in Climate Change and Sustainability at University of East Anglia

Sponsor: The Resnick Sustainability Insitute in Partnership with NASA JPL

Christopher Prier

Christopher K. Prier

2014 Resnick 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.

Chris is currently a Senior Scientist in Biocatalysis at Merck.

Faculty Sponsor: Frances H. Arnold

Research Highlight
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 continued in his appointment at the Resnick Sustainability Institute, where he worked with Profs. Harry Gray and Brian Stoltz to develop new electrocatalytic methods for producing low carbon fuels, pharmaceuticals, and high-performance materials.

Julian is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Rice University.

Faculty Sponsor: Harry B. Gray