Current Group Members

David Cagan


(G5) 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


(G4) 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.

Katie Luedecke


Ruben Mirzoyan


(G6) 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. 

Dr. Erica Sutcliffe


(Postdoc) Born and raised in northwest England, Erica read Physics at the University of Nottingham. After this, she received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Dr. Olof Johansson. There she worked on method development in ultrafast broadband magneto-optics and the application of this technique to study both magnetization dynamics in 2D ferromagnetic semiconductors and transient MCD spectroscopy of porphyrins. At Caltech, Erica’s research seeks to use ultrafast magneto-optic spectroscopy to directly measure spin dynamics in molecular qubit candidates. In her free time, she enjoys reading, birdwatching, and exploring California with her wife.

Dr. Thais Scott


(Postdoc) Originally from Pennsylvania, Thais obtained her bachelors of science in chemistry from the University of Richmond in Virginia. After this, she received her Ph.D. with Prof Laura Gagliardi at the University of Chicago, and she developed and applied hybrid wave function and density functional theory methods for photochemically relevant systems. She completed her first post-doc with Prof Kieron Burke as a MolSSI fellow studying ensemble density functional theory. At Caltech, she uses chemical dynamics methods to model and predict the photodynamics of Ni-based photoredox catalysts. She enjoys baking, reading, and making music with friends in her free time.

Christian Totoiu


(G4) 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. 

Tianzheng (Edwin) Zhang


(G2) Edwin was born and raised in Beijing, China. He attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and received a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S. in Molecular & Cellular Biology. There, he worked with Prof. Walter G. Klemperer on the synthesis and structure of Keggin polyoxometalates and their diamondoid crystals. As a joint member in the Hadt group and the Rees group, Edwin’s research focuses on bioinorganic chemistry for the spectroscopic characterization of substrate/ligand binding to nitrogenase. In his free time, Edwin loves playing Souls-like video games such as Elden Ring.

Past Group Members

Dr. Daniel Bím

Post-Doctorate, California Institute of Technology (2023)
Next affiliation: Postdoc at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (IOCB), Prague, Czechia

Dr. Brendon McNicholas

Post-Doctorate, California Institute of Technology (2023)
Next affiliation: Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Nathan Lopez

B.S. in Chemistry, California Institute of Technology (2023) 
Next affiliation: Graduate Student at the University of Chicago 

Dr. Ryan Ribson

Ph.D., California Institute of Technology (2022)
Next affiliation: Experimental Research Associate at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (LCLS facilities)

Dr. Alec Follmer

Post-Doctorate, California Institute of Technology (2022)
Next affiliation: Postdoc at University of California, Irvine (Prof. Andy Borovik)

Dr. Gautam Stroscio

Ph.D., California Institute of Technology (2021)
Next affiliation: Postdoc at University of Chicago (Prof. Laura Gagliardi)