Mentor: Dr. Ronald Castellano
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I've always had a passion for science, but it was not until I sat through my first organic chemistry class that I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career. Not long after that, I attended a symposium on chemical biology -- a field that uses chemistry as a tool to study biological systems -- and I was hooked. Because of my interest in synthetic chemistry, I decided to join the Castellano lab, and pursued a project that allowed me to gain experience in organic synthesis and characterization. My research now is focused on solving problems associated with organic photovoltaics, but the principles that govern this work -- that is, physical organic chemistry, rational molecular design, and elucidating structure-property relationships -- are universally applicable. Research in medicinal chemistry, for instance, concerns itself with determining general molecular features that might improve a drug's bioavailability, protease stability, and target affinity. In a parallel way, the goal of my research with Dr. Castellano is to determine the effect that certain molecular features in small molecules can have on their supramolecular assembly, and how this assembly influences performance in a device-related setting. It is my hope to take what I learn from my research here and apply it to problems at the chemical-biological interface in graduate school."
Chemistry; Microbiology and Cell Science
- Chemical Biology
- Organic Chemistry
- Molecular Biology
Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program
Charles Vincent and Heidi Cole McLaughlin Scholarship
Sheridan Award (Chemistry)
- Gator Community Supported Agriculture
Hobbies and Interests
- Playing Tennis
- Jets Football
Synthesis and Characterization of a Self-Assembling π-conjugated Donor Chromophore for Application in BHJ Solar Cells>
"Organic photovoltaic devices based on π-conjugated small molecules represent an attractive approach for low-cost solar energy conversion, in part due to their tunable optoelectronic properties and amenability to vacuum deposition. However, the power conversion efficiencies of these devices can be limited by poor nanoscale morphology of the bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) active layer. Top-down attempts to improve BHJ devices, such as annealing, have so far achieved only limited success. Herein we employ a “bottom-up” approach, in which π-conjugated donor chromophores are retrofitted with an H-bonding unit such that programmed self-assembly is encouraged. The H-bonding motif selected, known to aggregate into trimeric assemblies under appropriate conditions, was coupled to a branched quaterthiophene chromophore. Structural analogues lacking H-bonding capability were likewise prepared. Using these non-H-bonding analogues as a control, preliminary results show favorable aggregation of the compounds in solution and in bulk, and three-fold improved performance in devices."