• Member Bios

    Prof. Jonathan Owen

    2009 -


    Jonathan Owen grew up in Midland, MI experimenting in the garage with the help of his father who was a chemist at the Dow Chemical Company. He studied the synthesis of asymmetric diazaphospholanes with Clark Landis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BS, 2000). In 2005 he obtained a PhD from Caltech while studying the synthesis and bonding of pyridine-derived N-heterocyclic carbenes and the C–H activation of methane with John Bercaw. Following his PhD, he was a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Paul Alivisatos at UC Berkeley (2005-2009) where he learned about the chemistry and photophysics of colloidal quantum dots. He joined the faculty at Columbia University in 2009 where he is currently Associate Professor of Chemistry. His group studies the coordination chemistry of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals, as well as the mechanism of nanocrystal nucleation and growth. Jon has received several awards for his work including The 3M Nontenured Faculty Award (2010), The Early Career Award from the Department of Energy (2011), The DuPont Young Faculty Award (2011), the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (2012), and the Award in Pure Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (2016).


    UC, Berkeley - Postdoc (Alivisatos)

    CalTech - Ph.D. (Bercaw & Labinger) - 2005

    UW, Madison - B.S. (Landis) - 2000


    2016 - American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry

    2012 - National Science Foundation, CAREER Award

    2011 - DuPont Young Faculty Award

    2011 - Department of Energy, Early Career Research Award

  • Dr. Jim Shanahan

    Postdoc, 2020 -


    Jim grew up outside of Worcester, MA in the town of Boylston and went on to attend the University of Rochester (B.S. 2014). When not hiding from the upstate winters in the university’s underground tunnel system, he could be found in the basement of the chemistry building in the Jones lab. His undergraduate work investigated small molecule reaction kinetics with nickel sulfide complexes. His doctoral thesis, advised by Professor Nathaniel Szymczak at the University of Michigan, focused on ligand design and assessment of unconventional hydrogen bond and Lewis acid interactions to transition metal bound small molecules (N2 and H2). After earning his PhD in 2020, he joined the Owen lab where he will apply his appreciation for ligand design, exchange behavior, and structure/function relationships to nanocrystal synthesis. Outside of the lab, Jim enjoys skiing, pyrography (woodburning), and visiting museums.


    University of Michigan, Ph.D. (Szymczak) - 2020

    University of Rochester, B.S. (Jones) - 2014


    2018 - Margaret & Herman Sokol Graduate Summer Research Fellowship

    2014 - Carl A. Whiteman, Jr. Teaching Award

    2014 - ACS Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry


  • Dr. Sungho Park

    Postdoc, 2021 -


    Sungho is from Seoul, South Korea. He was first introduced to inorganic chemistry research in the lab of Prof. Liviu Mirica at Washington University, where he synthesized bench-stable Pd(III) complexes. After two years in the Korean military, he decided to come back to the U.S. for graduate school and joined Prof. John Berry's group at the University of Wisconsin. Sungho's work at Wisconsin focused on paramagnetic ruthenium compounds and their N–P and N≡N bond formation reactivity. After receiving his PhD, he has joined Prof. Jon Owen's lab at Columbia to investigate nanoscale metal-organic frameworks.


    UW, Madison, Ph.D. (Berry) - 2021

    Washington University, A.B. (Mirica) - 2013


    2019 - SRGC Travel Award

    2018 - Honorable Mention, IPMI

    2013 - Samuel Weissman Award

  • Dr. Mark Ziffer

    Postdoc, 2021 -


    Mark is originally from Philadelphia and has been a scientist in Maine, Chicago, Seattle, and New York. He got his B.A. in Chemistry at Colby College in Maine where he discovered an interested in physical chemistry, followed by a yearlong research internship at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago where he discovered another interest in materials science. He received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from University of Washington in Seattle in 2018, where his research involved using electro-optical and time resolved optical spectroscopy techniques to study the photophysics of organic and hybrid perovskite semiconductors in the group of Professor David Ginger. In 2018 he moved to Columbia University as a DOE EERE Postdoctoral Fellow to study the ultrafast photophysics of ferroelectric semiconductors using a variety of pump-probe laser spectroscopy and optical microscopy techniques in the group of Professor Xiaoyang Zhu. In fall 2021, he pursued a unique opportunity to work jointly as a postdoc in the groups of Professors Jonathan Owen, James Schuck (Columbia MechE), and Abhay Pasupathy (Columbia Physics) to establish a research effort at Columbia on quantum sensing with nitrogen-vacancy defect centers in diamond for imaging magnetism in two-dimensional materials. Mark is very excited to be working in all aspects of quantum with the Owen group!


    UW, Seattle Ph.D. (Ginger) - 2018

    Colby College, B.A. (Conry) - 2011


    2019 - 2021 - DOE EERE Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

    2015 - CEI Graduate Fellowship Award

    2012 - Lewis R. and Joan. M Honnen Endowed Fund in Chemistry Award

  • Dr. Rodolphe Valleix

    Postdoc, 2021 -


    Rodolphe grew up next to the city of Clermont-Ferrand, in the center of France. After obtaining his bachelor degree in Clermont-Ferrand, he moved to the capital of the gastronomy, Lyon, where he complete his master degree in inorganic chemistry from Claude Bernard university. He then went back to Clermont to start his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Damien Boyer. After three years spent dealing with the synthesis of III-V quantum dots and studying their optical properties from luminescence to photocatalysis, he obtained his doctoral degree in December 2021. Without delay, he joined the Owen lab in January 2022 where he will use every chemistry tools he learned to improve the optical properties of indium phosphide-based devices. Apart from playing with chemistry, Rodolphe enjoys watching and playing sports, walking around the city and spending times to discover new food and beverages.


    Clermont Auvergne University, Ph.D. (Boyer) - 2021

    Claude Bernard University, M.S. - 2018

    Clermont Auvergne University, B.S. - 2016


    2021 - E-MRS Graduate Student Symposium Award

  • Dr. Jessica Geisenhoff

    Postdoc, 2023 -


    Jessica grew up in Johnstown, Colorado and attended Colorado State University (B.S. 2016). At Colorado State University she was introduced to many exciting elements of inorganic chemistry, such as the photophysical properties of quantum dots (Prof. Alan Van Orden) and molecular magnetism (Prof. Matthew P. Shores). She traveled to the west coast for her doctoral work and studied under Professor Alina M. Schimpf at the University of California San Diego. Her doctoral thesis focused on the synthesis of transition metal dichalcogenide nanocrystals, where different coordination complexes of tungsten were used to influence the precursor conversion kinetics to access size-, shape-, and phase-tunability. After receiving her doctoral degree, Jessica joined Prof. Owen’s group where she hopes to apply the expertise gained from her doctoral work and the longstanding fundamental investigations of nanocrystal synthesis of the Owen lab to synthesize high-quality III-V semiconductor nanocrystals!


    University of California San Diego, Ph.D. (Schimpf) - 2022

    Colorado State University, B.S. - 2016


    2022 - Poster Award: Gordon Research Conference on Colloidal Semiconductor Nanocrystals

    2020 - UCSD Teddy Traylor

    2018 - UCSD Teaching Assistant Excellence Award

  • Bereket Zekarias

    3rd Year PhD, 2020 -


    Bereket Zekarias was born and raised in the vibrant city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She came to the states at 16 to attend an international boarding school in Montezuma, New Mexico. After two years in beautiful Montezuma, she attended Brown university and studied biochemistry and molecular biology. After a gap year at home, she moved back to the states to pursue her masters in pharmaceutical sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her graduate studies, she synthesized analogues that were potent against Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and worked on the rearrangement of chloroquinazolinones to twisted-cyclic guanidines or ring-fused N-acylguanidines. Finding the prospect of living in New York City irresistible, she moved to Columbia university and joined the Owen lab to study quantum dots' surface coordination chemistry. Bereket enjoys writing short stories, reading and watching movies.


    University of Wisconsin-Madison, M.Sc. (Golden) - 2018

    Brown University, Sc.B. (Sello) - 2015


    John & Jane Roudebush Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship

    Karen T. Romer Teaching & Research Award

    Armand Hammer United World College Davis Scholar

  • Yuzuka Karube

    2nd Year PhD, 2021 -


    Yuzuka was born in Iwakura, Japan, grew up in Memphis, TN, and went to high school in Los Angeles, CA. She wanted a change of scenery again and moved to Baltimore, MD to pursue a degree in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. She studied under Professor Thomas Kempa, studying redox-active dimolybdenum metal organic frameworks. After graduating from Hopkins with more degrees than originally planned, she decided to move yet again and headed off to New York City to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at Columbia. In the Owen Lab, she is studying PbS in perovskites and spectroscopic methods. In her free time, Yuzuka likes cooking, thrift shopping, and exploring the city.


    Johns Hopkins University, M.A. (Kempa) - 2021

    Johns Hopkins University, B.A., B.S. - 2021


    2019 - Greer Undergraduate Research Award

  • William Zhang

    2nd Year PhD, 2021 -


    William was born and raised in Arcadia, CA outside of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. While pursuing his undergraduate education in Chemistry at the University of California Santa Barbara (B.S. 2021) he developed a love for synthetic chemistry, having worked in the lab of Prof. Ram Seshadri under Molleigh Preefer developing functional magnetics and materials for lithium-ion batteries utilizing solid state methodologies. While not mixing chemicals, William enjoys wandering New York City’s many neighborhoods, watching Broadway shows, listening to live music, drinking coffee, and enjoying cold weather.


    University of California, Santa Barbara, B.S. (Seshadri) - 2021


    2018 - John Mithun Foundation Scholarship

  • Daybis Tencio

    1st Year PhD, 2022 -


    Daybis was born and raised in Costa Rica. He got his B.Sc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Costa Rica, same institution that years later embraced him as an Instructor. After years working in that tropical paradise in surface and interfacial chemistry of various industrial-relevant materials he decided to come to the Big Apple and join the Owen Group. Currently, Daybis works on oxygen-terminated surfaces for quantum sensing with nitrogen-vacancy defect centers in diamond. Besides chemistry and physics, Daybis loves lifting, artistic gymnastics and ballet.


    University of Costa Rica, B.Sc. - 2019

  • Jade Kemp

    1st Year PhD, 2022 -


    Jade was born and raised in Katy, TX outside of the Houston Area. She received her B.A. in chemistry from Austin College, a small liberal arts school north of Dallas, TX. There, she had multiple research experiences, including synthetic inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. After graduating, Jade decided to trade the humid Texas summers for brutal New York winters to pursue a PhD. in chemistry. She recently joined the Owen group and is working on nanocrystal metal-organic framework synthesis. In her free time, Jade enjoys baking, spin classes, and long walks exploring the city.


    Austin College, B.A. (Carr) - 2022



    2022 - Austin College Undergraduate Researcher of the Year

    2022 - ACS, DFW Local Section Outstanding Senior in Chemistry

    2021 - Bradshaw Frederick Armendt Fellowship for Outstanding Student in Chemistry

  • Colin Davis

    Undergraduate, 2022 -


    Colin is from the southern coast of North Carolina, in a beachside town called Jacksonville. To achieve a more challenging, faster-paced environment he decided to continue his education in New York City at Columbia University. He plans to major in Biochemistry on a premed track in hopes of going to medical school or graduate school. Though Colin has several different research interests, he has a keen liking for metal-organic frameworks. In his day-to-day life, Colin enjoys singing, music arranging and composing, cooking, and reading.



    Columbia University, B.A. - expected 2025

    Coastal Carolina Community College, A.S. - 2021


    2022 - Guthikonda Family Fellowship

    2022 - Thomson Family Scholarship

  • Andrew Kelly

    Undergraduate, 2022 -


    Andrew is from the suburbs of New York City, in a small town called Pelham. He worked as a researcher for the Owen Lab in high school, and to continue to pursue his work in this field he decided to attend Columbia University. He plans to major in chemistry and hopes to go to graduate school to pursue a Ph. D. in order to become a professor. Andrew has a real passion for research, but outside of the lab he loves to bake, sing, act, and play rugby.


    Columbia University, B.A. - expected 2026


    2022 - Regeneron Science Talent Search

    2021 - Genius Olympiad (Science)