Group Members

David McCamant

Professor David McCamant, Principal Investigator

Professor McCamant received his BA from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and then his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2004, working with Professor Richard Mathies to develop femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy as a new method to collect high-resolution vibrational spectra of ultrafast photochemical events. From 2004-06, he worked with Prof. Michael Wasielewski as a postdoc at Northwestern University, studying photoinduced charge-transfer compounds. He started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester in 2006 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. Dave is interested in light-matter interactions and how those interactions allow us to understand how things at the molecular scale move around and exchange energy.


Steven Diaz, Graduate Student

As our group tries to discern the dynamics associated with solar hydrogen production on both the ultrafast (sub-picosecond) and long-term (hours) time scales, accurately measuring the processes involved, such as electron transfer within a molecular-semiconductor system, is critical. To aid in this goal, I am augmenting current spectroscopic methods including femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy (FSRS) to be able to obtain spectra of transient species in opaque and scattering samples like those used in solar hydrogen production studies in order to measure electron transfer at the molecular-semiconductor interface. When not in lab, I enjoy playing classic video games, watching movies, and browsing dog-related twitter profiles.

Joohyun Lee

Joohyun Lee, Graduate Student

I am studying the ultrafast relaxation dynamics of DNA bases after they absorb ultraviolet light. This has important implications for human health since UV light exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. We are using ultrafast transient absorption and anisotropy, along with FSRS to probe the rates and mechanisms of the ultrafast dynamics in photoexcited DNA.

Michael Mark

Michael Mark, Graduate Student

My research is focused on understanding the photophysics and dynamics of organic chromophores in solar hydrogen producing systems. Using our labs ultrafast (Transient Absorption, Femtosecond Stimulated Raman Spectroscopy) and steady-state techniques, I have been able to gain insight as to how the molecular structure changes the physical properties of dyes while building a further understanding into their excited state dynamics both free in solution and bound to TiO2. From this we are able to map out the processes that a molecule undergoes after absorbing light and subsequently using it to convert aqueous protons into molecular hydrogen. In my free time also enjoy long walks on the beach, candle lit dinners and diving into a good romance novel!

Zak Piontkowski

Zak Piontkowski, Graduate Student

I am currently studying vibrational dynamics in chromophores relevant to solar Hydrogen production by dye-sensitization using steady-state and time-resolved resonance Raman techniques, particularly FSRS and femtosecond impulsive vibrational spectroscopy (IVS). Upon photoexcitation, molecules are subjected to a driving force towards a new equilibrium. My goal is to combine the experimental Raman spectra with modelling techniques to describe the excited-state evolution following photoexcitation, but preceding electron transfer, in the sensitizing chromophores. This work aims to clarify the structural role of bridges typically used to prevent back-electron transfer in donor-bridge-acceptor complexes.

Zhi Wu

Zhi Wu, Visiting Graduate Student, Xiamen University

Previously, at Xiamen University, I studied photoelectrocatalytic water splitting using nanostructured materials. I am currently studying synthesis and photochemistry of semiconductor scaffolds with application to dye sensitized systems for hydrogen production. We are developing new semiconductor nanocrystals that will facilitate the proton reduction via molecular catalyst.


Zhihao Wu, Undergraduate Student

Solar hydrogen production using a platinized-TiO2 catalyst and different kinds of dye sensitizers has been extensively studied in McCamant group. I am studying the solar hydrogen production of different dyes (e.g. Pt-based dyes, rhodamine dyes, and ruthenium dye) bound to platinized-TiO2 using a homebuilt 16-well photolysis apparatus. I am performing a comparative study on the hydrogen production efficiency of different dyes under standardized condition. I am also interested in finding the optimal weight percent of the platinized-TiO2 nanoparticles that produces the most hydrogen gas.


Graduate students

Barbara Dunlap, (2009 - 2014)
Thesis: Fifth and Seventh order Raman spectroscopy implemented with femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy.
Currently: PD with Claudia Turro, the Ohio State U.

Justin Rhinehart, (2006 - 2011)
Thesis: Ultrafast dynamics of Dimethylaminobenzonitrile (DMABN).
Currently: Systems Engineer, Abbott Laboratories, Irving, TX.

Kristina Wilson, (2006-2014)
Thesis: An Attempt at Direct Observation of Anharmonic Vibrational Coupling Constants with Two-Dimensional Femtosecond Stimulated Raman Spectroscopy”
Currently: Chemistry Instructor, UCLA.

Randy Pat Sabatini, (2009-2015, Joint with Rich Eisenberg)
National Science Foundation Graduate Student Research Fellow
Thesis: Ultrafast electronic dynamics leading to solar hydrogen production.
Currently: PD with Ted Sargent, University of Toronto.

5th year MS program

Brendon Lyons (MS, 2009)
Currently: Universal Oil Products, Des Plaines, IL.

Master’s degrees

Leila Shahri (MS, 2008)
Einstein Ofotsu Djabeng (MS, 2011)
Emily Hillenbrand (MS, 2014)
Daniel Mark, (MS, 2015)

Postdoctoral Scholars

Guocan Li, August 2016-August 2018
Currently: Senior Scientist at Versum Materials

Dr. A. Collins Nganou Assonkeng, June 2013 - May 2015
Currently: PD with Martin Mkandawire, Technical University of Berlin, Germany

Dr. Jagannadha Reddy Challa, November 2009-September 2012
Currently: Abbott Labs, Texas.

Dr. Yong Du, January 2009 –October 2010.
Currently: Assistant Professor, China Jiliang University, Hangzhou, P.R.C.

Dr. Soohyun Lee, June 2007-September 2008.
Currently: Materials Analyst, Cheil Industries, Inc. (division of Samsung), Korea.

Undergraduate students

Sabin Kim (UR summer research, 2018)
Melissa Marx (Alfred Univ., REU 2017)
Fredrik Valgeborg (Upsalla Univ., Sweden, International REU 2017)
Jessica Freeze (Independent and Senior research, 2015-17; currently at Yale University)
Bailey Bowers (Summer REU student, 2016)
Sarah Pristash (Senior research, 2015-16; currently at U. Washington)
Dylan Bleier (Senior research, 2015-16)
Amanda Carr (Senior/summer research, 2015-16, Currently at SUNY Stony Brook)
Ge Song (Summer, 2015)
Danielle Barnett (Independent, summer, and senior research, 2014-15)
Clayton Stumpf (Independent, summer, and senior research, 2014-15)
Christa Catalfamo (REU student from SUNY Geneseo, summer 2014)
Yuji Wakimoto (Independent Study, Spring and Fall 2013)
Joseph Colaruotolo (Summer and Senior Research, 2011-2013)
Micah Brown (Senior Research, 2012-2013)
Rachel Kozlowski (REU Student from Campbell Univ., N.C., 2012)
Ian Pershing, REU Summer student (2011) 
Peter Richter, Summer and Senior Research (2011-2012)
Colin Kinz-Thompson, senior research 2009-2010. Randy Mehlenbacher, REU Summer student (2008). Continuing research 2008-2010.
Brendon Lyons, senior research (2007-2008). BS 2008, cont’d in MS program.