Graduate Students

Astrid Olivares – 5th year

Astrid originates from Lancaster, CA. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. In 2014, she started her PhD studies at the University of Rochester. Astrid is interested in designing new catalyst for homogenous catalysis. Currently, she is working to develop a new class of cobalt complexes for hydrogenation/dehydrogenation reactions. In her free time, Astrid enjoys working out, cooking, and exploring the outdoors.

Tarah DiBenedetto – 4th year

Tarah originates from Denver, NY. She received a B.S. in Chemistry from SUNY Oneonta in Oneonta, NY. In 2015, she started her PhD studies at the University of Rochester. Tarah is interested in homogenous catalysis. Currently, she is working on the conversion of ethanol to n-butanol through the Guerbet reaction. In her free time, Tarah enjoys cook, baking and gardening.


Andy VanderWeide – 3rd year

Andy grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After obtaining his BS in Chemistry from Grand Valley State University in 2016, He started his PhD at the University of Rochester. Andy is interested in mechanistic organometallic chemistry; He Is currently working on rhodium catalyzed C-H activation. Outside of work, Andy enjoys comedy podcasts, cooking, board games, and hiking.


Kylie Ritz – 2nd year

Kylie is originally from Virginia where she obtained her bachelor’s in chemistry at William and Mary in 2017. Later that same year, she joined the Jones lab and has since been working on a project involving iridium catalyzed dehydrogenation utilizing electrocatalytically regenerable hydrogen acceptors. Outside the lab, she enjoys singing in the Eastman-Rochester choir and hiking!



Olaf Nachtigall

Olaf is from Berlin, Germany. He received his B.Sc. (2010), M.Sc. (2013), and Dr. rer. nat. (2018) from Freie Universität Berlin. He did his master thesis in the group of Rainer Haag and his doctorate studies with Johann Spandl. He also worked as an Erasmus student in the labs of Helena Grennberg at Uppsala Universitet in Sweden and Bernold Hasenknopf at Sorbonne Université in France. Olaf is currently developing redox active metalloligands for cerium and various transition metal complexes. In his free time, Olaf enjoys cooking and travelling.




John Clay  

John grew up in Cohasset, Massachusetts and is currently pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry.  He is interested in catalysis and is currently synthesizing new catalysts for the production of n-butanol through the Guerbet reaction.  Outside of the lab, John enjoys reading, making and solving crossword puzzles, exploring, and biking. 







Philip Palermo 

Philip was raised on the west side of Rochester where he found a strong interest in biology and chemistry. He is currently pursuing a BS degree in chemistry after becoming fascinated with inorganic and organometallic synthesis. Philip is currently researching the synthesis and association of tridentate NNN ligands to first row transition metals and their functionalization. In his spare time, he enjoys performing jazz trumpet and playing cards with friends.