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Graduate Students | Postdoctoral Fellows | Undergraduate Students


Graduate Students

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Jesus I. Martinez Alvarado

Fourth Year Graduate

Jesus was born in Mexico City and raised in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he conducted research in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Johnson. While there, Jesus explored the use of an iminophosphorane organocatalyst for reductive coupling reactions. Outside of lab, Jesus enjoys spending time with his family and dog.

Stephen Ting

Third Year Graduate 

Stephen grew up in Cupertino, CA. He graduated from Stanford University, where he worked under Prof. Justin Du Bois. During his time there, Stephen developed a second-generation synthesis of an intermediate towards the natural product pactamycin, and also examined the copper-catalyzed N-arylation of cyclic sulfamates. Outside of chemistry, Stephen enjoys playing jazz piano, being around dogs, traveling, and spending time in the outdoors.

John Park

Third Year Graduate 

John was born and raised in San Jose, California. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemical Biology and a minor in Molecular Toxicology. At Berkeley, he worked on palladium catalyzed perfluoroalkylation of aryl halides under the supervision of Professor John F. Hartwig. Outside of lab, John enjoys taking walks, playing board games and trying new places to eat and drink coffee.

Sam Newman-Stonebraker

Third Year Graduate 

Sam was born and raised in New York City before moving to Long Island, NY at the age of 7. He graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry from Cornell University in 2017. While at Cornell, Sam did undergraduate research in the laboratory of Professor Geoffrey Coates, investigating double metal cyanide complexes as heterogeneous catalysts for epoxide/CO2 copolymerizations. Outside of lab, Sam enjoys hiking, baseball, and astronomy.

Stavros Kariofillis

Third Year Graduate 

Stavros was born and raised in Easton, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lafayette College with a B.S. in Biochemistry, where he conducted research under the guidance of Professor Roxy Swails. At Lafayette, Stavros synthesized water-soluble Palladium N-heterocyclic carbene complexes and examined their catalytic reactivity towards cross-coupling reactions in aqueous solvent systems. Stavros also spent a summer of research synthesizing isolable (NHC)CuCF2H complexes and examining their catalytic reactivity towards difluoromethylation under Professor Melanie Sanford at the University of Michigan. Outside of lab, he enjoys playing soccer, volleyball, running, reading, and convincing his labmates to join him on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee runs.

Izzy Leibler

Second Year Graduate 

Izzy grew up in Armonk, NY. She graduated from Middlebury College, where she worked under Prof. Richard Bunt. In the Bunt Lab, Izzy worked on palladium-catalyzed asymmetric allylic aminations and the synthesis of novel BIPHEP chiral ligands. After college, Izzy conducted research at the National Institutes of Health under Dr. James Inglese and Dr. Ganesha Bantukallu, where she synthesized chemical probes for the treatment of parasitic infections. Outside of lab, Izzy enjoys watching baseball, running, hiking, and cooking.

Julia Borowski

Second Year Graduate 

Julia was born and raised in Robbinsville, New Jersey. She graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from Yale University in 2018. At Yale, she conducted research under the guidance of Professor Robert Crabtree and Professor Gary Brudvig, synthesizing and characterizing transition metal complexes containing polydentate pyridine-alkoxide ligands for use as water oxidation catalysts. Outside of the lab, Julia enjoys running, playing volleyball, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.

Kassandra Sedillo

First Year Graduate 

Kassandra grew up in Aurora, Colorado and graduated from Colorado State University (B.S. in Chemistry 2015). She conducted research in the lab of Dr. Tom Rovis synthesizing alkyl-substitutued pyridines from unsaturated oxime esters and alkenes via Rh(III) catalysis. Following college, Kassandra worked as a medicinal chemist at Gilead Sciences in Seattle, Washington. Beyond chemistry, Kassandra enjoys reading, latin dancing, and nature walks.



Shivaani Gandhi

First Year Graduate 

Shivaani grew up in Redondo Beach, CA. She graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2017. At Berkeley, she worked on the synthesis of fluorescent, voltage-sensing dyes under the guidance of Prof. Evan Miller. After undergrad, Shivaani worked at UCSF under Prof. Nick Paras as part of a drug discovery campaign to find small-molecule therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. Outside of lab, Shivaani enjoys baking, going on drives, live music, and film photography.


Wendy Williams

First Year Graduate 

Wendy was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in chemistry. While at BYU, Wendy worked in the lab of Daniel Ess investigating carboxylation reactions through density functional theory. Outside of lab, Wendy can be caught hiking, watching sports, baking treats with her fellow labmates, or going to a Broadway show in NYC.



Postdoctoral Fellows

Makeda Tekle-Smith

Makeda was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Pomona College in 2014 with a B.A. in chemistry, where she worked with Prof. Cynthia Selassie investigating new antimalarial therapeutics. She then went on to obtain her Ph.D. at Columbia University under the supervision of Prof. James Leighton. Her Ph.D. focused on the total synthesis of non-aromatic polyketides and their development as novel antibody-drug conjugates. In her spare time, Makeda likes to play soccer, watch movies, and go to the beach.


Benjamin Shields

Joint Postdoctoral Fellow with Ryan Adams 

Ben Shields was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. In 2014, he graduated from the University of North Carolina Asheville with degrees in chemistry and applied mathematics. As an undergraduate, Ben conducted research in the group of Dr. Herman Holt, preparing heterocyclic analogues of microtubule interfering agents.


Undergraduate Students

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Visiting Students

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