Current Group Members

Kaitlyn Benson

kbenson[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G1) Kate was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned her B.S. in chemistry at Villanova University in PA. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in the lab of Prof. Jared Paul at Villanova University where she investigated excited state proton-coupled electron transfer in substituted Ru(bpy)­3 systems. At Caltech, Kate is studying the mechanism of both sensitized and non-sensitized photoinduced carbon dioxide reduction in non-aqueous systems as part of the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA). In her free time, Kate enjoys traveling and camping across California, Arizona, and New Mexico with her girlfriend and dog.

Dr. Daniel Bím

dbim[at]caltech[dot]edu

(Postdoc) Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Daniel received Ph.D. in Natural Sciences from Charles University. During his studies, he was engaged in research at the Czech Academy of Sciences, where he explored the theoretical aspects of hydrogen-atom-transfer reactions. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA in the theoretical research group of Prof. Alexandrova. At Caltech, Daniel conducts interdisciplinary research aimed at elucidating the mechanisms of photoredox catalysis by transition-metal complexes. His stay at Hadt’s group is supported through the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. Daniel greatly enjoys spending free time with his family, where his two little boys drain all his residual energy.

David Cagan

dacagan[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G3) David was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Pasadena City College and received his AA in Natural Sciences and AS-T in Mathematics. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Cal State Los Angeles, where he worked with Prof. Matthias Selke on the kinetics and reactivity of singlet molecular oxygen. In the Hadt Lab, David works on understanding the mechanisms of Ni-mediated photocatalyzed cross-coupling catalysis. His research is supported by the NASEM Ford Foundation Fellowship and the NSF GRFP. In his free time, David enjoys cooking, making visual art (both science illustration and portraiture), and listening to audiobooks. He is also an advocate for increasing diversity in science and is the President of Caltech’s Diversity in Chemistry Initiative.

Nathanael Kazmierczak

nkazmier[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G2) Nathanael was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He conducted his undergraduate studies at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he received a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in music. While at Calvin, he developed chemometric data processing algorithms for studying complex chemical equilibria in the lab of Prof. Douglas A. Vander Griend. He additionally spent two summers in the lab of Prof. Kwabena Bediako at UC Berkeley, where he studied strain fields in twisted bilayer graphene and ferromagnetism in 2D intercalation materials. At Caltech, Nathanael’s research seeks to use ligand field theory to understand and control spin dynamics in transition metal compounds, with applications to quantum computing and quantum sensing. His research is supported by the Hertz Fellowship and the NSF GRFP. In his free time, Nathanael enjoys complaining about the California climate, thinking up names for his future cats, and sparring with Daniel at the chessboard.

Nathan Lopez

nelopez[at]caltech[dot]edu

(Junior) Nate is an Undergraduate in Chemistry at Caltech and member of Blacker and Dabney House. He grew up in Riverside, CA and graduated from Patriot High School in 2019. Nate’s current research involves the synthesis and analysis of spin-phonon coupling in distorted porphyrins. He is a member of Caltech’s track and field team, enjoys playing chess, and runs at local venues. 

Katie Luedecke

kluedecke[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G2) Katie was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up nearby in Schaumburg. Her family relocated to Georgia, and she did her undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia (B.S. in Chemistry). There, she worked toward elucidating the structure and reactivity of carbene and mono/dithiolene-based main group complexes in the laboratory of Dr. Greg Robinson. At Caltech, Katie is an NSF graduate research fellow and works on the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA) project. Specifically, she is interested in characterizing the key excited- and ground-state intermediates in electro-/photo-catalytic CO2 reduction in aqueous conditions. In her free time, Katie enjoys reading, writing poetry, and spending time outdoors (all enhanced by a glass of red wine– preferably a Malbec).

Dr. Brendon McNicholas

bmcnicho[at]caltech[dot]edu

(Postdoc) Brendon was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended the University of California, Berkeley for his B.S in chemistry, where he worked with Prof. John Arnold on electrocatalytic oxygen reduction by transition metal corrole complexes. He then moved to Caltech for his Ph.D., where he worked with Prof. Harry Gray and Prof. Bob Grubbs on electrochemistry and electrocatalysis in ionic liquids and ion gels and the electronic structure and electrochemical applications of boronated cyanometallates. Brendon is now a Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar, working on carbon/macrocycle composites for semi-solid redox flow batteries and mechanistic and electronic structural characterization of Ni-mediated photo-/electrocatalysts. In his free time, Brendon loves playing with his cats, doing crosswords, listening to electronica, and running.

Ruben Mirzoyan

ruben[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G4) Ruben was born in Haifa, Israel and grew up near Toronto, Canada. He specialized in Chemistry at the University of Toronto for his undergraduate studies. Now at Caltech, he is working on modeling spin–phonon coupling in transition metal complexes, as well as understanding carrier dynamics in artificially photosynthetic cobalt oxide films. Ruben’s work is supported by an Eddleman Quantum Graduate Fellowship (2021-2022) and an NSERC PGS-D Fellowship. Ruben likes to play basketball, shooting at least 40% from the 3-point line. He also enjoys playing the piano and tackling obscure fitness challenges. 

Wren Stiefel

kstiefel[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G2) Wren is from New Jersey. They graduated from Princeton University in 2020 with an A.B. in Chemistry and a minor in Quantitative and Computational Biology. There, they worked with Prof. John T. Groves on the effect of redox state on the immune-regulating protein indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) and began designing a targeted activator to control the redox state in vivo. Now, they work on an engineered cytochrome P450 produced by the Arnold Lab to understand the unique heme-carbene bond and its properties. They also assist on work with phthalocyanines. Outside the lab, Wren is treasurer of the Gender Diversity Club, volunteers with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and does community homelessness outreach. They also enjoy spoiling their dog with treats and their friends with baked goods!

Christian Totoiu

ctotoiu[at]caltech[dot]edu

(G2) A Southern California native, Chris completed his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, where he performed research with Prof. Gregory Weiss in accelerating enzymatic catalysis. Subsequently, he obtained an MPhil in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge, where under the guidance of Prof. Elizabeth Hall he worked on engineering biosensors. Chris is interested in how biological systems are impacted by fundamental physical processes and phenomena, especially magnetism. As a member of the Hadt group, he is studying magnetic behavior in protein active sites. In his free time, Chris enjoys reading science fiction and biographical nonfiction, listening to opera, and engaging in outdoor activities and sports. 

Past Group Members

Dr. Alec Follmer

Post-Doctorate, California Institute of Technology (2022)

Next affiliation: Postdoc at University of California, Irvine (Prof. Andy Borovik)

Dr. Ryan Ribson

Ph.D. California Institute of Technology (2022)

Next affiliation: Experimental Research Associate at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (LCLS facilities)

Dr. Gautam Stroscio

Ph.D. California Institute of Technology (2021)

Next affiliation: Postdoc at University of Chicago (Prof. Laura Gagliardi)