Resnick Institute

Current Grad Fellows

Matthew J. Chalkley

Matthew J. Chalkley

Resnick Fellow

Improved Efficiency and Sustainability in Synthetic Nitrogen Fixation via Utilization of Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer

Matthew received his BS in chemistry from Yale in 2013 and was the co-director of the Yale Sustainability Service Corps. He then traveled to Germany to do research in synthetic inorganic chemistry with Professor Karsten Meyer as a Fulbright Fellow. He is currently a graduate student in the lab of Professor Jonas Peters, where his research focuses on the role that proton-coupled electron transfer plays in the reduction of dinitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3). This is a complicated reaction in which the addition of six protons and six electrons to the typically inert N2 molecule must be carefully managed to avoid the undesired formation of H2. This reaction is of interest because it is the key step in the process of generating fertilizer. Unfortunately, current industrial methods for NH3 synthesis from N2 use high temperatures, high pressures, and materials derived from fossil fuels and thus are not sustainable. Therefore, we hope to leverage our knowledge of the mechanism of this reaction to one day provide more sustainable technologies for the synthesis of fertilizer, a goal which will only become increasingly important as the human population continues to grow.

Adviser: Jonas C. Peters

Kai Chen

Kai Chen

Resnick Fellow

Biocatalytic Method for Construction of Highly Strained Carbocycles

Kai is a chemistry graduate student in the research group of Prof. Frances Arnold. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Zhejiang University, China. Before graduate school, Kai researched different areas of chemistry, including organic synthesis, organometallics and chemical biology. His undergraduate research on direct carbon‒hydrogen bond functionalization for streamlined synthesis of valuable molecules highlighted green chemistry and encouraged him to think about how to develop new methods for sustainable synthesis. In 2015, Kai joined Prof. Arnold’s lab and has since focused on the use of directed evolution for making new enzymes to catalyze reactions unprecedented in the natural world. His research aims to provide sustainable access to high-value chemicals that are unmatched by traditional chemical methods, with broad applications in pharmaceutical development, chemical biology, material science and others.

Adviser: Frances H. Arnold

Jackie Dowling

Jacqueline Dowling

Zeller-Resnick First Year Fellow 2017

Jackie is a graduate student in environmental science and engineering. She earned a BA degree in chemistry from Carleton College in 2017. She conducted research focused on aerosol chemistry at UC San Diego and the University of Iowa, and climate modeling at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. She founded the Carleton College Energy Club and spearheaded a conservation project with occupancy sensors that significantly reduced the college’s annual energy costs and carbon emissions. Her undergraduate senior thesis focused on photoelectrochemistry with applications in photovoltaics and photocatalyzed water splitting for hydrogen fuel. She helped install a solar panel array in India as part of her Carleton physics class. Witnessing poverty, poor energy access, and the health impacts of air pollution in Delhi motivated her studies. She plans to study materials and atmospheric chemistry with renewable energy and climate science applications at Caltech.

Adviser: Nathan S. Lewis

Iretomiwa (Tomi) Esho

Iretomiwa (Tomi) Esho

Zeller-Resnick First Year Fellow 2018

Tomi graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at UT Arlington, he conducted experiments to determine critical temperatures for preventing thermal runaway in lithium-ion batteries, as well as simulations to investigate thermal management techniques in lithium-ion battery packs. He is interested in heat transport at small scales, and ultimately hopes to contribute to the advent of more sustainable forms of energy. Tomi spends his free time either playing ping pong, soccer (COYG), or watching Netflix.

Adviser: Austin J. Minnich

Rachel Ford

Rachel Ford

Resnick Fellow

Next Generation of Copper-based Electrode Materials for Electrochemical CO2 Reduction

Rachel is a PhD student in the chemistry department. She received her BS in chemistry from the University of Florida, where she conducted research in the Butler Polymer Research Laboratory under the advisement of Prof. Ken Wagener and Prof. Ken Sloan. Her research focused on the application of polymer chemistry to enhance sunscreen stability and efficacy. At Caltech, Rachel seeks to develop novel copper-containing polymeric films for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide to produce liquid fuels and useful chemicals.

Advisers: Julie A. Kornfield and Mamadou S. Diallo

Yuliya (Iuliia) Gordiyenko

Yuliya (Iuliia) Gordiyenko

Resnick Second Year Fellow 2017

Uncovering the Initial Steps of Photosynthesis: Development of Quantum Mechanical Methodology to Treat Dark Excited States

Yuliya is a graduate student in chemistry. She graduated with an honours BSc in chemistry from McGill University, Canada in 2016. She did her undergraduate research in Prof. Mark Andrews' group. While at McGill, Yuliya served as VP of Finance for the Green Chemistry Student Association. She joined Garnet Chan's group at Caltech in December of 2016. Her current research is motivated by the need for high-accuracy, low-scaling computational methods, which would be able to accurately treat "dark" excited electronic states in large correlated systems, such as the Light Harvesting Complexes (LHCs), involved in photosynthesis. The light-dependent steps of photosynthesis are among the most efficient energy transfer processes known in Nature, yet little is known about their mechanism. Yuliya aims to elucidate and precisely model the full electronic dynamics of the molecules involved in this process. Specifically, she'll be working on extending the utility of the Density Matrix Embedding theory framework and using local correlation techniques. The results of her project could impact energy-conversion applications and provide a deeper understanding of fundamental processes.

Adviser: Garnet K. Chan

Liyin He

Liyin He

Resnick Fellow

Global Monitoring of Crop Productivity Using Solar-induced Fluorescence

Liyin is a PhD student working with Prof. Christian Frankenberg. She holds a BS in geographical information science, with a minor in financial engineering, from Nanjing University, China. She came to Caltech in 2016 to pursue a PhD in environmental science and engineering, focusing on the response of ecosystems to climate change using remote sensing techniques. Her current research involves using satellite observations of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF), which is more directly related to photosynthesis than traditional monitoring techniques, to estimate the photosynthetic uptake of CO2 in forests and agricultural fields. This will better quantify the trajectory of terrestrial carbon uptake, as well as open a path towards large-scale crop monitoring and forecasting. She aims to utilize the information acquired by satellite remote sensing across space and time, to help farmers assess the condition of crops, and to inform policy makers addressing food security and sustainability.

Adviser: Christian Frankenberg

Zachery Iton

Zachery Iton

Cross-Resnick First Year Fellow 2018

Zachery is a graduate student in materials science. Originally from Barbados, he was a member of the VIPER program (Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research) at the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a BA in chemistry and a BSE in materials science and engineering. He also conducted several research projects based on sustainability. These included using vanadium oxide nanoparticles to make smart windows to regulate indoor temperatures instead of using heating and air conditioning, and using ceria nano plates in combination with precious metal nano particles to make cheaper, more effective catalytic converters for vehicles. Although not certain what his research at Caltech will entail, due to his long-term goal of aiding in the ongoing transition to renewable energy sources gloabaly, he hopes to be able to do research in the field of energy storage or renewable energy production.

Adviser: Kimberly See

Siraput Jongaramrungruang

Siraput Jongaramrungruang

Resnick Affiliate Fellow

OPTIMEEM: OPTImize MEthane Emission Monitoring

Siraput is a second-year PhD student working with Prof. Christian Frankenberg. Having experienced various facets of environmental challenges growing up in Thailand, Siraput has long been intrigued by the power of science to shape a more sustainable future for society. After obtaining first-class bachelor and master degrees in physics from the University of Cambridge, Siraput came to Caltech in 2016 to pursue his PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering, with a focus on using remote-sensing data to understand Earth systems. His current research applies simulations and machine learning techniques in combination with real observational airborne methane retrieval imagery to identify and quantify point-source methane emissions over California. The success of his project could open a path toward automated methane emissions monitoring from satellite data, and may help to better constrain the distribution of regional and local methane emission sources across the globe. Siraput’s interests also include monsoon dynamics and variations. During the course of his Resnick fellowship, he aims to develop expertise in utilizing the wealth of observational data available to distill useful knowledge that can inform and help improve resilience for human society.

Adviser: Christian Frankenberg

Sebastian Lee

Sebastian Lee

Resnick Fellow

Quantum Embedding Methods for the Better Design of Liquid Electrolytes in Lithium-ion Batteries

Sebastian is a graduate student in chemistry working in Prof. Thomas Miller’s group. He received a BS in chemistry/biochemistry and a minor in physics from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). As an undergraduate, he developed his passion for theoretical chemistry under the tutelage of Prof. Bernie Kirtman at UCSB and Prof. Henry Schaefer at the University of Georgia. At Caltech, he applies and develops theoretical methods to computationally guide the better design of liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries. His research aims to address the growing need for safer and higher performing batteries so they may be used in high energy content applications, such as electric vehicles.

Adviser: Thomas F. Miller

Zach Lee

Zachary Lee

Resnick Fellow

Adaptive Charging Network Research Portal

Zach is a PhD student in electrical engineering advised by Professor Steven Low. He earned his BS Eng. from John Brown University in 2016, and his MS from Caltech in 2018. Zach’s research is centered on smart electric vehicle charging, where he draws on broad interests at the intersection of data science, computer science, and energy. Zach helped develop the software and algorithms that make up the Adaptive Charging Network (ACN), a framework for smart charging systems, which was developed at Caltech and has since been commercialized by PowerFlex, a Caltech startup. More recently, he has focused on distilling the data and insights captured from building actual charging systems into an open-source toolbox for EV charging research. As a lover of travel and of the outdoors, he hopes that affordable and ubiquitous charging infrastructure will speed the adoption of electric vehicles worldwide, allowing us to be good stewards of our environment without restricting mobility.

Adviser: Steven H. Low

Ignacio Lopez Gomez

Ignacio Lopez Gomez

Resnick Fellow

Unified Data-Informed Model of Turbulence and Convection for Climate Models

Ignacio is a PhD student in environmental science and engineering working with Prof. Tapio Schneider. He holds a BS in aerospace engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and a MS in the same major from Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace. His research focuses on improving our ability to predict climate change through the development of more accurate computational climate models. At Caltech, his work aims to reduce cloud cover biases in climate models, which are the largest source of uncertainty in climate projections. His broader interests include understanding how ocean and atmosphere dynamics will change in a warmer climate.

Adviser: Tapio Schneider

Madeline Meier

Madeline Meier

Resnick Fellow

Evolution-Optimized Design and Synthesis of Complex Mesostructures for Effective Light Harvesting and Chemical Production

Madeline is a PhD candidate in chemistry working in the lab of Prof. Nate Lewis. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2017, with a BS in chemistry and a minor in sustainability. At Arkansas, Madeline developed new electroanalytical tools to explore diffusion in electrochemical systems towards the generation of new sensor technologies, and also worked for the Office for Sustainability, focusing on improving waste management within student organizations. Currently, Madeline is developing an inorganic phototropic growth process for semiconductor materials. This process is inspired by natural phototropism wherein plants like palm trees grow toward the sun to maximize light collection. Madeline aims to copy this process at a size scale approximately a billion times smaller and investigate the way that tuning the input illumination (analogous to the sunlight in natural systems) can direct semiconductor growth and structure evolution at the mesoscale. This work will produce a bench-top, template-free, and high-throughput method to generate intricate nanostructured architectures over macroscopic areas that are generally useful and have potential application in the generation of high-efficiency solar absorbers and platforms for catalysts used to drive environmentally-important chemical transformations.

Adviser: Nathan S. Lewis

Jaeyun Moon

Jaeyun Moon

Resnick Fellow

Exceptionally Low Thermal Conductivity Glasses for Energy-Efficient Windows

Jaeyun received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, where he did research in thermal transport in carbon fibers with President. G. P. “Bud” Peterson and in water management in proton exchange membrane fuel cells with Professor Tequila Harris. He is currently a graduate student in mechanical engineering in Professor Austin Minnich’s group where he studies the thermal transport in amorphous materials using both numerical and experimental techniques. Specifically, he is interested in finding out how heat carriers (propagons, diffusons, and locons) transport heat differently in amorphous materials from phonons in crystals. Understanding heat transfer mechanisms in amorphous materials will enable us to synthesize novel materials with exceptionally low thermal conductivity.

Adviser: Austin J. Minnich

David Needell

David Robert Needell

Zeller-Resnick First Year Fellow 2015

David received his BA in physics and applied mathematics with a minor in computer science from Bowdoin College and begins work toward a PhD in materials science at Caltech Fall 2015. As an undergraduate at Bowdoin, David focused his research toward novel solar cell designs including Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC’s), multi-junction photovoltaics, and biohybrid solid-state solar cells. Collaborating with the Cliffel Group from Vanderbilt University, David investigated solar cells whose photoactive agent consisted of Photosystem I – a fundamental protein to the initialization of photosynthesis. David is particularly excited to explore photovoltaic designs such as Silicon Microwire Solar Cells and Spectrum-Splitting Photovoltaic Modules.

Adviser: Harry A. Atwater

Stephanie O’Gara

Stephanie O’Gara

Cross-Resnick First Year Fellow 2019

Stephanie O’Gara is a first year graduate student in mechanical engineering. Last year she completed a Fulbright Student Research fellowship to Indonesia. During her Fulbright, she conducted a biomass residue assessment in rural Eastern Indonesia and founded a bioenergy student group at a university in Jakarta. Stephanie holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. While an undergraduate student, she published research related to laser manufacturing solar panels. She is passionate about sustainable development for low-resource communities and is excited to conduct research on emerging technologies at Caltech.

Max A. Saccone

Max A. Saccone

Resnick Fellow

Understanding and Mitigating Mechanical Degradation in Li-S Batteries

Max is a graduate student in chemical engineering working with Professor Julia Greer. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2017 with an AB and BE in engineering sciences and a chemistry minor. At Dartmouth, he wrote an honors thesis on sulfur speciation in Na-S batteries with Professor Weiyang Li. Max’s research at Caltech focuses on understanding mechanical degradation mechanisms in Li-S batteries via nanomechanical experiments and developing additive manufacturing techniques to enable the design of robust 3D-architected battery active materials. This research aims to improve cyclability in low cost and earth abundant Li-S battery materials, which have enormous potential for grid storage and transportation applications. Max is an avid rock climber and trail runner, and finds meaning in environmental stewardship in many forms, from trail maintenance to sustainability-focused research.

Adviser: Julia R. Greer

Dirk Schild

Dirk Schild

Resnick Second Year Fellow 2017

Dirk is a graduate student in chemistry. He obtained his BSc from Hogeschool Utrecht and his MSc from Utrecht University. Dirk works on the synthesis of ammonia at low temperatures and pressures using transition metal complexes in the Peters group. The formation of ammonia is an important reaction due to its use in fertilizers. In this process, the reaction is performed at high temperatures and pressures, however this reaction has potential to be performed at lower temperatures and pressures because enzymes can do it at room temperature. Understanding how earth-abundant metal complexes catalyze this reaction at low temperatures and what governs their reactivity should result in a decrease in energy required and therefor a more sustainable method for ammonia synthesis.

Adviser: Jonas C. Peters

Ying Shi Teh

Ying Shi Teh

Resnick Fellow

Density Functional Theory Development and Analysis on Defects in Perovskite Solar Cells

Ying Shi is a graduate student in mechanical engineering. She completed her undergraduate degree in engineering science at the National University of Singapore. At Caltech, she focuses on studying density functional theory (DFT) as a first-principles approach to defect study in perovskite solar cells. She is interested in exploring the interactions of defect states in perovskite materials and their effects on photovoltaic performance. This could serve as guidance on systematically improving the efficiency of solar cells, hence bringing us one step closer to developing an efficient and low-cost solution for renewable energy.

Adviser: Kaushik Bhattacharya

Simon Todtli

Simon Todtli

Cross-Resnick First Year Fellow 2015

Simon did his undergraduate work in mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich and will pursue his graduate studies in aeronautics at Caltech. For his undergraduate thesis, he worked on the production of bulk chemicals from renewable resources and his master's thesis focused on the numerical simulation and control of turbulent channel flows. While at Caltech, he plans to further explore the dynamics and control of wall-bounded turbulent flows, with the ultimate goal of reducing drag on engineering surfaces such as ships or pipes. Advances in this field would offer the opportunity for vast energetic savings in the transport sector and thus help to reduce the ecological footprint of today's globalized economy.

Adviser: Beverley J. McKeon

Xiao Tong

Xiao Tong

Resnick Fellow

Ultrafast Excited State Dynamics of Coupled Carriers and Phonons from First-Principles Calculations

Xiao is a graduate student in materials science working in Prof. Marco Bernardi’s group. She received a BS in physics at Southern University of Science and Technology, China (SUSTC), where her undergraduate research focused on exploring transport properties of thermoelectric materials with TEM (transmission electron microscopy). Xiao is broadly interested in computational methods that can deepen our understanding of condensed matter physics and she is currently developing first principle methods to explore ultrafast excited state dynamics in energetic materials. This research aims to reveal coupled atomic and electronic structure responses in solid-state materials and decipher the underlying mechanism of ultrafast energy flow. An additional goal is to provide a systematic approach toward interpreting ultrafast time-resolved experiments.

Adviser: Marco Bernardi

Kyle Virgil

Kyle Virgil

Resnick Fellow

Above-Band-Gap Photovoltage in Layered Hybrid Perovskites from the Bulk Photovoltaic Effect

Kyle is a graduate student in chemistry advised by Professors Geoffrey Blake and Harry Atwater. He received his BS in chemistry with honors from North Carolina State University, along with minors in biological sciences and philosophy. At NCSU, he computationally investigated light harvesting arrays for artificial photosynthesis efforts in Prof. Elena Jakubikova’s lab. Kyle then spent a year in Sweden experimentally researching photocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction with Prof. Leif Hammarström as a Fulbright Fellow. He currently researches new materials for enhanced or “next-generation” photovoltaics, including hybrid perovskites. He primarily uses ultrafast terahertz (or far-infrared) spectroscopy to gain insight into their unique properties and behaviors. Understanding the charged particle movement within the materials investigated could lead to cheaper, more robust and globally accessible solar energy technology.

Advisers: Geoffrey A. Blake and Harry A. Atwater

Kevin Vu

Kevin Vu

Zeller-Resnick First Year Fellow 2016

Kevin is a graduate student in environmental science and engineering. He received his BE in civil engineering from Macaulay Honors College at the City College of New York (CCNY). During his undergraduate career, Kevin pursued an interest in the issue of potable water. This led him to conduct research on the presence of pharmaceuticals in water, work on multiple projects in the CCNY chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA, and contribute to water treatment research at the EPA, including a study on naturally-occurring strontium. At Caltech, Kevin is interested in developing a water treatment system capable of producing drinkable water under strict constraints.

Andrey Vyatskikh

Andrey Vyatskikh

Resnick Fellow

Additive Manufacturing of 3D Architected Titania for Solar Water Disinfection

Andrey is a PhD candidate in medical engineering working in Prof. Julia Greer’s group. After initial training as a Medical Devices Engineer at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, he received his MS degree from a joint program between Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at MIT, Andrey worked on designing and building a roll-to-roll chemical vapor deposition system for scalable synthesis of 2D materials. He earned his MS degree in medical engineering at Caltech in 2017. Andrey’s research focuses on additive manufacturing (AM) of metals and ceramics at nano- and micro-scale. His Resnick project explores using hybrid organic-inorganic materials to 3D print photocatalytic materials using lithographic methods. Developing new AM processes for photocatalytic materials provides a unique opportunity to create and study high surface-area, strong, self-supported photocatalysts with deterministic architectures that control light delivery inside the bulk of the photocatalyst. This can pave the way to creating safe and efficient photocatalytic reactors for household water disinfection, as well as for applications in photocatalytic hydrogen production and CO2 conversion.

Adviser: Julia R. Greer

Ryan Ward

Ryan X. Ward

Zeller-Resnick First Year Fellow 2019

Ryan is a first year PhD student in environmental science & engineering, previously studying civil and environmental engineering at the University of Florida. Growing up on the west coast of Florida, a location sensitive to perturbations in the earth system such as severe weather events and long-term sea level rise, Ryan has always had deep-rooted curiosity and interest in sustainable development and coastal resiliency. To inform policy and decision-making on these practices, however, a better understanding of earth’s changing climate is required. His research will focus on the interactions between aerosols, clouds, and climate, one of the most uncertain aspects of contemporary climate models, and address the extent to and mechanisms by which anthropogenic activity influence these interactions.

Alex J. Welch

Alex J. Welch

Resnick Fellow

In Situ Imaging of the Local pH in Gas Diffusion Electrodes for CO2 Reductions

Alex is a graduate student in applied physics conducting research at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis with Prof. Harry Atwater. She earned a BS degree in engineering physics from Stanford University in 2016. At Stanford, she became interested solar energy conversion and conducted research on transparent conductive materials and photon upconversion with Yi Cui and Jennifer Dionne respectively. At Caltech, her research has focused on electrochemically transforming CO2 into useful chemicals. In her current work, she plans to image the local environment in gas diffusion electrodes for CO2 reduction. These images will reveal new information about the water layer in these promising, but not well understood devices, as well as the local pH. Alex’s passion for sustainability comes from her love of exploring the outside world – scuba diving, hiking, camping, sailing, and skiing.

Adviser: Harry A. Atwater

Cora Went

Cora Went

Cross-Resnick First Year Fellow 2016

Cora is a graduate student in physics who joined Harry Atwater’s group in August 2016. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a BS in physics. She participated in undergraduate research projects focused on characterizing three different materials with applications to solar cells: III-V semiconductors, charge-transfer complexes, and colloidal quantum dots. She worked for a summer at the Fraunhofer Institute in Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany, where she investigated power-dependent photoluminescence spectroscopy of III-V semiconductors. In the Atwater group, she studies two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides for applications to ultrathin, high-efficiency, and low-cost solar cells.

Adviser: Harry A. Atwater

Lucien Werner

Lucien Werner

Cross-Resnick First Year Fellow 2017

Lucien is a mathematician interested in the theory of cyber-physical systems, which include large-scale networks like the power grid and the Internet of Things. His goals are to advance the mathematics that underlie these systems and accelerate the adoption of renewable sources that contribute to sustainable energy production. His past research has been on the dynamics of vegetation pattern formation in arid ecosystems threatened by desertification, drought, and human encroachment. Outside of mathematics, Lucien has a career as a cellist and continues to perform around the world--often with his three sisters who are all also musicians and mathematicians. Prior to joining Caltech, he received degrees in mathematics, music, and politics from Northwestern, Harvard, and Montana State University.

Adviser: Steven H. Low

Qin Yang

Qin "Arky" Yang

Resnick Fellow

Structure-Function Study of Two-dimensional Hybrid Perovskites for Low-Cost High-Efficiency Tandem Solar Cells

Arky is a graduate student in chemistry working in Prof. Harry Atwater's group. She earned her BS in chemistry at University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, she worked in Prof. Peidong Yang’s group on nanowire for transparent electrodes. Before that, she also did research on organic photovoltaics in Prof. He Yan’s group at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and in Prof. Gui Bazan’s group at University of California, Santa Barbara. Currently, she is interested in exploring structure-function correlations of two-dimensional perovskites (2D-PVSK), and looking for approaches to improve their quantum efficiency. This study will lay the foundation for maximizing power conversion efficiency of 2D-PVSK, and pave the way for low-cost production of high efficiency solar cells.

Adviser: Harry A. Atwater

Weilai Yu

Weilai Yu

Resnick Second Year Fellow 2017

Weilai is a graduate student in chemistry working in the research group of Prof. Nathan S. Lewis and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). His research interests lie in the fundamental study of the intrinsic materials durability and energy-conversion properties of Ⅲ-Ⅴ compound semiconductors for photoelectrochemical (PEC) solar fuel generation. This knowledge could lead to the construction of high-performance photoelectrodes to realize efficient and sustainable production of chemical fuels using sunlight under optimal conditions. Prior to Caltech, Weilai obtained his BSc degree in chemistry with highest honors from Wuhan University (WHU) in 2016. He spent a semester at Harvard University as a visiting undergraduate student (VUS) in 2015.

Adviser: Nathan S. Lewis

Michael David Zott

Michael D. Zott

Resnick Fellow

Enhanced Electrocatalytic Ammonia Oxidation via Directed Catalyst Modification

Michael received his BS in chemistry and minor in physics from Georgia Tech in 2018. There, he studied theoretical chemistry with Prof. David Sherrill, prior to beginning his inorganic chemistry research with Prof. Henry La Pierre. At Caltech, Michael studies the interconversion of nitrogen and ammonia working with Prof. Jonas Peters. Ammonia (NH3) shows promise as a carbon-free fuel via conversion to inert nitrogen (N2), and Michael is developing Earth-abundant iron catalysts for this process. Utilizing NH3 as fuel will likely grow in importance as its sustainable, solar production becomes a reality. To this end, Michael is also studying the generation of NH3 from N2 via electrochemical techniques. In addition to its potential as a carbon-free fuel, NH3 is a key chemical feedstock essential for global health due to its role in fertilizer. Developing techniques and knowledge related to the interconversion of N2 and NH3 will promote a nitrogen economy, with the aims of sustainable agriculture and energy.

Adviser: Jonas C. Peters