CAFF promotes professional development for our undergraduate and graduate students, including co-mentoring, collaborative training, and career development though a quarterly speaker series on careers within and beyond academia.

Alexander Al-Zubeidi
Alex's overall research interests revolve around nanochemistry and electrochemistry for photocatalysis and renewable energy applications. He currently studies 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.
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Zach Armstrong
Zach received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puget Sound in 2018. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the direction of Prof. Martin Zanni. 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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Zhengyi Bian
Zhengyi Bian is a graduate student majoring Materials Science and Engineering in Prof. Martin Gruebele’s group at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Jilin University.
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Danielle Cadena
Danielle is a NSF GRFP fellow in the Roberts group at UT Austin studying energy conversion and light-harvesting materials. She synthesizes hybrid inorganic-organic systems, specifically semiconductor nanocrystals functionalized with conjugated acene ligands. She examines energy transfer dynamics at the nanocrystal-ligand interface using transient absorption spectroscopy.
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Niklas Gross
Niklas Gross is 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 focuses 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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Caitlin Hetherington
Caitlin is currently a Ph.D. student at Stony Brook University. She earned her master’s degree in Chemistry with German at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the Levine group, she is modelling the hot carrier cooling and photochemistry of quantum dots. She is also using ab initio multiple spawning to model the excited state life-time of oxygenated carbon dots.
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Annette Jones
Annette is an undergraduate in the Landes Group at Rice University.
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Joy Lee
Joy is a senior undergraduate student of Chemistry in the Gruebele Group at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.
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Anastasiia Misiura
Anastasiia received her M.Sc. in Chemistry from Moscow State University, Russia. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Chemistry Department at Rice University where she works 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.
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Behnaz Ostovar
Behnaz received her B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from University of Tehran in Tehran, Iran. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of 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.
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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 is currently a Ph.D. student in 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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Alison Wallum
Alison is a Ph.D. student in the Gruebele Group at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her work in the Gruebele Group focuses on studying the excited state electronic structure of nanomaterials using single-molecule absorption scanning tunneling microscopy (SMA-STM). As a part of CAFF, Alison is using SMA-STM to study fluorescence mechanisms of carbon dots and energy transfer in quantum dots. When she’s not in lab she enjoys playing volleyball, running, and gardening.
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Yuzhe Zhang
Yuzhe was born and raised in Jiangsu, China. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Xiamen University, where he worked with Dr. Cheng Wang on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for photocatalysis and ultrafast spectroscopy of inorganic and organic solar cells. He joined Zanni group in fall 2021.
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