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Bren Group

Principal Investigator


Prof. Kara L. Bren

Graduate Students & Postdocs


Banu Kandemir


Research: I am investigating the catalytic mechanism of a macrocyclic iron complex using electrochemical methods.  My goal is to synthesize derivatives of the complex as well as to couple electrochemistry with spectroscopy to get a clear picture of the reaction and deactivation pathways. 


Jose Alvarez-Hernandez


Research Projects: 

  • Kinetics and Mechanism of the Electrochemical HER catalyzed by Cobalt-peptides in 100% water.
  • Secondary Coordination Sphere Interactions in Cobalt-ATCUN metallopeptides.
  • Electrochemical CO2 reduction activity of metal-porphyrin-peptides and Heme-proteins.
Outside of lab, I’m the president of the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) at the UR. I take care of our fish tank, play volleyball, bike, and dream of a better Cuba.
Currently looking for a postdoc position (starting 2021).

Jesse Stroka


Research: Working at the interface of inorganic and biological chemistry, I am currently investigating electrocatalytic activation of small molecules by bio-inspired metallopeptide catalysts. These investigations include an emphasis on obtaining insight on reaction mechanisms, elucidation of catalytically relevant species, and optimization of conditions using preliminary electroanalytical techniques with plans of adding spectroscopic approaches in the future.


Emily Edwards


Research: My current research focuses on using a simple biomolecule, cobalt microperoxidase-11, in systems for light-driven hydrogen generation. Cobalt MP11 is a water-soluble cobalt porphyrin-peptide derived from the heme peptide of horse heart cytochrome c. I am currently working to characterize an aqueous system using Co-MP11 as a catalyst, [Ru(bpy)3]2+ as a charge transfer chromophore, and ascorbic acid as a sacrificial electron donor. The need to drastically reduce carbon emissions and move to clean renewable energy sources is urgent - climate change has been dubbed as one of the biggest global health threats of the 21st century. It is imperative that there is a good understanding of how to build clean energy solar harvesting systems that maximize their potential. Consequently, an ongoing goal of research is to optimize the system while developing a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms at work.


Jiwon Han


Research: My current research is focusing on metallopeptide catalysts for electrocatalytic hydrogen generation.


Alison Salamatian

Research: My current research focuses on CoMC6*a which is a synthetic enzyme that catalyzes photochemical reduction reactions. Currently, I am characterizing the water-based proton reduction as well as CO2 reduction using this catalyst and quantum dots or organic dyes as  photosensitizers.  These reactions are of interest for environmentally green and renewable fuels.




Post-Baccalaureate Students

Jana Jelusic

Jana Jelušić


Research: My research focuses on the characterization of the catalytic complex formation in the photocatalytic hydrogen production system. Concentrating on electrochemical methods, I am exploring the activity of the catalytic complex in different conditions. Purification and subsequent employment of the catalytic complex in the photochemical system might contribute to a better understanding of the activity of catalytic species for H2 generation. Now, my research has evolved to studying bugs (Shewanella oneidensis MR-1) and their role as electron donors in photochemical systems.



Undergraduate Students


Noelle Peluso


William Wang


Isabelle Rock