I study electrons at interfaces, and under far-from-equilibrium conditions, in order to controllably interconvert energy among various forms. One of my research group’s primary model systems is the semiconductor quantum dot (QD). The strong confinement of a QD’s electrons leads to bright, narrow light emission, but also limits QDs’ applications. We have shown that certain surface treatments maintain desirable optical properties while coupling core electrons to the environment. This advancement has enabled my group to use QDs as photocatalysts for a variety of chemical transformations. In a separate research area, we explore “electron ratchets”. To transport particles in chaotic biological environments, nature developed molecular motors. Motors couple structural asymmetries with ATP to obtain directional motion, through a mechanism called “ratcheting”. We use this mechanism to transport electrons through materials with low electrical mobility. I envision using electron ratcheting to recycle thermal energy otherwise wasted in a solar cell.

Awards and Achievements

  • National Finalist, Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists
  • ACS Early Career Award in Experimental Physical Chemistry
  • Harry B. Gray Award for Creative Work in Inorganic Chemistry by a Young Investigato ( 2015)
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, The Dreyfus Foundation ( 2014)
  • Kavli Emerging Leader in Chemistry, American Chemical Society ( 2014)
  • NU-Argonne Early Career Investigator Award for Energy Research ( 2011)
  • A.P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship ( 2011)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) via the ARO ( 2010)
  • Department of Energy Early Career Research Award ( 2010)
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Awar ( 2009)
  • Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award ( 2008)