CAFF celebrates the students and postdocs that made our Center successful during their academic training.

Alexander Al-Zubeidi
Alex was a graduate student in the Link Group at Rice University. His overall research interests revolve around nanochemistry and electrochemistry for photocatalysis and renewable energy applications. He studied how light-induced hot carriers from nanoparticles can be utilized and tuned for driving photo-electrochemical reactions using a combination of custom-built spectroscopic and electrochemical setups and electron microscopy. Before joining Rice, he completed a master’s degree at Imperial College London where he worked on a custom-built robotic platform for high-throughput electrochemical measurements. He left his position as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Link Group in December 2022.
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Zach Armstrong
Zach was a graduate student in the Zanni Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. in Spring 2022 . His research interests include ultrafast multidimensional spectroscopy and microscopy of organic and perovskite solar cell materials, and interpreting these results with computational chemistry and open system quantum dynamics. In his free time he enjoys skiing, playing the trumpet, and riding bikes.
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Miriam Bohlmann Kunz
Miriam was a graduate student with the Zanni Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she earned her Ph.D. in August 2022. She utilized 2D electronic spectroscopy to study semiconductors, and developed a novel microscopy method with sub-diffraction limit spatial resolution by combing ultrafast pulse shaping and atomic force microscopy, while mentoring three junior graduate students and serving as a teaching assistant and a youth soccer instructor. She received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 9 publications, including 3 as the first author, and 3 oral presentations at scientific meetings.
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Danny Cotton
Danny was raised in the hills outside the Bay and LA before heading to the Midwest for college in 2012. During his undergraduate studies, Danny researched new polymeric materials for pseudocapacitors with Dr. Julio D’Arcy. After graduation, Danny headed south to UT Austin, where under the guidance of Dr. Sean T. Roberts he studied how the structure of organic molecular aggregates impacts their electronics and ultimately their potential utility for singlet-fission based hybrid solar cells. Currently, Danny is working as a postdoc at the University of Southern California with Dr. Jahan Dawlaty. There, he is developing new molecular platforms to study how solvent structure impacts carbon dioxide absorption, which an immediate connection to carbon capture systems. When not in lab, Danny enjoys reading, going on hikes and frequenting LA’s many museums and music venues.
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Niklas Gross
Niklas Gross was a Ph.D. student in the Chemistry Department at Rice University. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Germany. His research focused on the ultrafast dynamics of metal nanomaterials after optical excitation and their applications. Specifically, he studies the effect of defects in the metal crystallinity on the acoustic phonons of nanoparticles.
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Annette Jones
Annette was an undergraduate in the Landes Group at Rice University. She graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 2023 and went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry.
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Anastasiia Misiura
Anastasiia received her M.Sc. in Chemistry from Moscow State University, Russia. She was a graduate student in the Landes Lab at Rice University and worked in the super-resolution microscopy group supervised by Prof. Christy Landes. Her research interests include studying the dynamics of protein adsorption at a single-molecule level. She earned her Ph.D. in Fall 2022.
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Behnaz Ostovar
Behnaz received her B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from University of Tehran in Tehran, Iran. She recently earned a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University under the supervision of Prof. Stephan Link. Her research interests include studying ultrafast charge transfer dynamics at a single nanoparticle in metal-semiconductor heterostructures level using transient absorption spectroscopy techniques. Behnaz is currently an Optical Waveguide Grating Engineer and a Waferfab Manufacturing Process Development Engineer at Lumentum.
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Emily Searles
Emily received her B.S. in Chemistry and Political Science from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia in 2018. She recently earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry at Rice University under the advisement of Prof. Christy Landes. Her research interests include single particle spectroelectrochemistry of hybrids, using plasmonic nanoparticles to report on reactions happening at soft interfaces.
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