Project scientist

 
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Seven “the dog”

Very Important Canine

 
 

Postdoctoral Associates

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Dr. Hui Nie

Hui was born and grew up in Hubei province-“the land of fish and rice” in China. At 2009, she travelled to the north part of China and has her PhD in Jilin University with Prof. Sean Xiao-An Zhang and Prof. Minjie Li. For her PhD study, she works on several projects such as self-assembly of metal-organic coordination polymers and carbon dots. After received her degree at 2015, she moved to the “orange” country Netherlands for postdoc study with Prof. Jos Paulusse in University of Twente and Prof. Katerina Dohnalová in University of Amsterdam. During her two years happy journey there, she worked on bright silicon quantum dots. Then she moved to sunny Santa Barbara, California and now works with Prof. Javier Read de Alaniz on photoswitches for polymerized ionic liquid.

 
 
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Dr. Jaejun Lee

Born in April 1984 in a small town, Suncheon, located in southern South Korea. At age 19, I moved to Seoul to enjoy college life at Hanyang University. The fancy Korean name of material science and engineering major, directly translated to new material engineering, brought me to study this major for more than 10+ years. If someone is wondering why I spent 7 years to finish my bachelor degree, spending 2 years and 2 months for an alternative military service would be an answer. I earned MS degree in materials science and engineering in KAIST, Daejeon and started another journey to study polymers in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the middle of corn fields. I finally completed my Ph.D. under supervision of Nancy Sottos working with nice lab mates and collaborators. 

A reason to continue career as a postdoc : curiosity in stimulus-responsive materials

My interests : playing basketball, soccer and golf

First place visit in Santa Barbara : Saturday Fisherman’s market

Favorite burger place in Santa Barbara : Habit burger

Favorite golf course in Santa Barbara : Glen Annie golf course

The moment decided to start surf in the near future : when I met Javier carrying a surf board

 
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Dr. ETHAN SUSCA

Ethan grew up in California and spent most of his childhood in the great NorCal town known as Stockton (perhaps you've driven through it on interstate 5). As the great recession hit, Ethan enrolled in Harvey Mudd College and graduated four years later with a B.S. in Engineering. During his undergrad, he did research on nanocomposite membranes with Prof Nancy Lape and attended a conference in a very rural part of New Hampshire. At said conference, he learned about block copolymer microphase separation and fell in love with the self-assembled ordered network structures they can form. After Mudd and a brief stunt as a semiconductor engineer, Ethan ended up studying these structures at Cornell under the direction of Profs Lara Estroff and Uli Wiesner, where he made and characterized very large single crystalline self-assembled double gyroids. After the PhD in Materials Science was granted in 2018, he started an ultra-co-advised postdoc under 3 profs: Rachel Segalman, Javier Read de Alaniz, and Chris Bates at UC Santa Barbara with the intention of exploring structure-property relationships in polymeric ionic liquids. He's happy to be back in Cali (as only his friends on the east coast call it) because he needs sunlight to function. When Ethan isn't at a computer or fume hood, he's probably swimming (yay outdoor pools!), on a day hike or backpacking trip, or learning how to surf.

 
 

Graduate Students

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Kyle Clark

Born and raised in the forested panhandle of Idaho, Kyle started out his life raising swine and eating nothing but tasty, nutrient rich potatoes.  Upon graduating high school, he sought to continue learning and did so at an amazing, potato-themed institution called the University of Idaho.  It was there that Kyle began to gain experience in the world of organic chemistry.  Two years of his undergraduate career were spent in in a lab with Professor Jakob Magolan working towards the synthesis of totally legitimate, totally not illegal drugs.  It was his passion for this that pushed him to earn two Bachelor of Science degrees (Chemistry and Biochemistry).  Upon graduation, he grew tired of the harsh winters killing his potato side-crops so he moved to sunny, beach abundant (and potato-lacking L) California for graduate school.  Kyle joined the Read de Alaniz group at UC Santa Barbara in the fall of 2015.  When not hard at work, Kyle enjoys playing basketball, hot potato, spending time with friends, eating potato chips and kicking butt at Super Smash Bros.

 
 
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Meghan Nichol

Coming from the city of Chicago—well a suburb of Chicago but no one knows of it—Meghan grew up feasting on deep dish pizza and Portillo's hot dogs. Between practicing Irish dance and running track Meghan found time to gain an interest in chemistry. Not leaving Chicago (aka just another suburb) Meghan attended Lewis University where her neighbor was casually a high security prison—Statesville prison. When not hiding from escaped inmates Meghan completed her bachelor's in chemical physics while doing research in the field of chemical mechanical planarization with nickel phosphorus substrates. Although Meghan loves everything that is Chicago, the sunny beaches of California were calling her name. In 2015 Meghan started graduate school at UC Santa Barbara where she is now doing research with Javier Read de Alaniz in the field on self immolative polymers. While not in lab Meghan enjoys running along the beach, practicing yoga, and baking lots of yummy treats she shares with coworkers while sipping on a PSL.

 
 
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Yvonne Diaz

Born and raised in the desert of Southern California, Yvonne began her chemistry career as an intern at Edwards Air Force Research Laboratory located in The Middle of Nowhere, CA. During her five years there, she confronted scorching heats, endless rattlesnakes, and the occasional explosion, all while witnessing rocket firings, learning a great deal of polymer chemistry and materials science, and even publishing a few papers along the way. Meanwhile, Yvonne attended Cal State University, Northridge to earn her degree in Chemistry and plan her escape from the desert. While searching for graduate schools, UCSB offered her the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara and a Doctoral Scholars Fellowship, and she knew she found her escape. Yvonne joined the Ph.D. program and now works with Professors Craig J. Hawker and Javier Read de Alaniz as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. She enjoys her free time on the beach with friends, salsa and swing dancing, or hiking to see the beautiful scenery Santa Barbara has to offer.

 
 
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Emre Discekici

Emre was born in southern Illinois before moving to and spending nearly 7 years on the tropical island of Guam. He returned back to Illinois, settling in the windy city of Chicago only to move back to the cornfields of Illinois for undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  It was here he developed his passion for chemistry and the Japanese language.  Emre went on to put chemistry on the backburner his junior year and left to study abroad in the land of the rising sun.  In addition to vastly improving his Japanese skills, he left with newfound appreciation for sushi and quality ramen.  After a return back to Illinois and a fruitful year of research with Professor Jeffrey Moore his senior of college, Emre returned to Japan as a visiting intern at the University of Tokyo again experiencing the joys of indescribably tasty seafood.  Emre went on to work for the Dow Chemical Company before making the move to sunny southern California ecstatic to be working with Professors Craig Hawker and Javier Read de Alaniz as an NSF graduate fellow.  When Emre isn’t in lab, he enjoys playing golf, cruising on his skateboard, eating seafood, and kicking it with good friends.

 
 
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Allison Abdilla

 
 
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Manny Sanchez Zayas

Manny was born and raised in the sunny swamps of Florida, where gator wrestling and cow-tipping were a family past time. He originally embarked on his collegiate endeavor to pursue a career as an M.D. (dodged a bullet there), and he first received a Bachelors in Cardiopulmonary Sciences, where he worked in a Cardiac Catheterization Lab for almost 5 years, where he literally saved people’s lives. During that time, he decided to go back to school and complete a second bachelor’s degree in Chemistry when he wasn’t slicing and dicing on the surgery table. He discovered his passion for Chemistry while doing research for Professor Arsalan Mirjafari at Florida Gulf Coast University. There he completed two years of research, designing and synthesizing long chain hydrophobic ionic liquids with low Tg and viscosity. Even though Manny swears he passed his MCAT, he decided that pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry was a more fitting career for him. He now has joined the team at UCSB working in the labs of Professors Javier Read de Alaniz and Rachel Segalman and focuses on lighted induced, reconfigurable poly(ionic liquids). When not in the lab, Manny enjoys playing basketball and beach volleyball, going to the beach (even though the water is too cold), video and board games, and ending the day with a nice tall cold one.

 
 
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Miranda Sroda

Miranda was born and raised in the bay of Green Bay, WI, the land known for cheese curds and the Green Bay packers. After escaping the harsh winters of the north, she found the sandy beaches of Santa Barbara. Here, her research career started as a formulation engineer at Apeel Sciences, working with Dr. Louis Perez (AKA Lou).  After a summer REU stint with the Read de Alaniz Lab, Miranda knew she would be back to carry out her PhD studies with the group. Keeping busy while finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of California San Diego, she worked at The Scripps Research Institute in the lab of Dr. Keary Engle-elaborate. Since starting her graduate studies, her research is focused on finding new polymer platforms to exploit the mechanical properties of photochromic materials. Outside of lab, Miranda enjoys spending time with her golden retriever, Piper. 

 
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Jeffrey Self

Born in the metropolitan utopia of Madrid, Spain, infant-Jeffrey was soon reluctantly moved to Houston, Texas. There, he learned the fine art of avoiding political discussions and fending off swarms of mosquitos. Eventually, fate and fortune landed him at the University of Texas, in Austin. This new face of the old republic redeemed his opinion on the Lone Star state, somewhat. Fueled by a divine concoction of curiosity and purposelessness, he sought out a position in the Mullins research group during his freshmen year. Housed in the McKetta department of Chemical Engineering, Jeffrey’s project involved synthesizing and characterizing earth-abundant metal solar electrodes for photocatalytic water splitting. He drank deep the sweet nectar of scientific discovery, and yet his appetite could not be whet. After a year, he decided to explore the Chemistry department, to better suit his research interests. Here, in Prof. C. Grant Willson’s research group, Jeffrey was first introduced to block copolymer synthesis and self-assembly and the power of friendship. After a half decade spent on two undergraduate degrees and seven co-authored papers, Jeffrey finally arrived at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue a Materials Chemistry PhD under the direction of Profs. Javier Read de Alaniz and Christopher Bates (another Willson alum). Now, an NSF graduate fellow, Jeffrey spends his time equally between working in lab and trying to remember what the world outside of lab looks like. If you’re reading this, please send help. Or a postcard.

 
 
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Jamie Shaum

Jamie Shaum grew up in Los Angeles, California where he did the basic stuff children do. Later in life he travelled to Maine to study chemistry and snowboarding at Colby College.  When not skiing the glades at Saddleback Mountain, he worked on the syntheses of formyl-carbenes and twisted-phenanthrenes. After college, Jamie accepted a job at the NIH’s very own Chemical Biology Laboratory. Once settled in, he worked on several promising projects. Some notable examples of his work were the syntheses of a new NIR fluorophore, a β-glucosidase sensing probe, and a project only known as “fluorogenesis.” Jamie is afraid of his mortality and hopes the compounds he synthesizes will improve the lives of many people. Then maybe when modern civilization collapses into chaos, people will remember him and think fondly of him. Jamie also really hates writing about himself in the third-person. I hate this. That’s right. It’s me. I’ve been writing this whole thing. Hi. The cat’s out of the bag. It’s just you and me now. There never was a third person. If you want to know anything about me, just ask. Sorry this wasn’t more informative.

Also my girlfriend has more NCAA trophies than yours.

 
 
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Serena Seshadri

Hailing from “just outside of Philly,” Serena quickly learned the ways of arguing in favor of WaWa hoagies and Philadelphia sports teams to anyone who never asks. Escaping the farmlands (I mean, cityscape…) of bucolic Pennsylvania, she ventured to Washington D.C. to pursue degrees in Chemistry and Education, Inquiry and Justice at Georgetown University. Here Serena learned the importance of educational equity as well as scientific inquiry and aims to be able to someday work within public schools to increase access to science education. Working in the solid state organic chemistry lab of Jennnifer Swift, Serena studied the control of crystalline morphology and polymorphism through crystallization on self-assembled monolayers. Three years and several mentors later, Serena’s continued curiosity led her to apply to graduate school to work in the field of organic materials. Promptly aligned with a sharp change in the governmental air quality in D.C., Serena headed to the beautiful blue southern California haven of Santa Barbara. Here she works with Javier Read de Alaniz and Matt Helgeson on the development of photoresponsive materials for control of fluid systems. When not in lab, Serena is making art, waffles and a comprehensive list of places to hang her hammock.

 
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Angelique Scheuermann

Angelique was born and raised in the warm sun of Long Beach, California. Leaving the beach for the Bay, she attended UC Berkeley to pursue her love of chemistry and good Thai food. There, she began her career in undergraduate research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) at the Molecular Foundry with Dr. Brett Helms. At LBNL, Angelique learned to appreciate the many possible avenues of materials chemistry research and her daily view of the sun setting over the San Francisco Bay. A sucker for accumulating acronyms, Angelique also become an active fellow of the UC Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADs) program. Through this program she was given the opportunity to return to her homeland and work for Professor Aaron Esser-Kahn at UCI (now at University of Chicago). That summer, Angelique was introduced the fun that is interfacing organic and polymer chemistry, spending her time synthesizing stretchy polymeric materials and measuring their squish. When it came time to apply to grad school, Angelique realized that her real love lay in the study and synthesis of the squish, and after four “brutal” Berkeley winters she was finally able to return to SoCal and begin graduate studies on the warm beaches of UC Santa Barbara as an NSF graduate fellow under the joint direction of Professor Javier Read de Alaniz and Professor Christopher Bates.  If Angelique isn’t in lab, you’ll find her running, swimming, attending concerts, or practicing headstands in yoga class.

 
 
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Saejin Oh

The nomadic lifestyle has been calling to Saejin for her entire lifetime. Born in the capital city of South Korea, Seoul, she spent the first third of her life there. When she was 10 years old, she moved to Qingdao, China, known for high-quality beer and a beautiful view of the ocean.  She was too young to enjoy the Qingdao beer, so she decided to learn Chinese language and culture in local schools instead.  Living 7 years in Qingdao as a teenager taught her both a new language and how to adapt to living in a foreign country. Saejin then moved again, this time to Hong Kong, where she finished high school and learned to communicate via body language when she was at a loss for learning the native Cantonese dialect. After the 9th year of leave from her home country of South Korea, she then ventured back to complete her collegiate studies.  She did her undergraduate degree and Masters in Ewha Womans University, where 99.8% of the population on campus was female (as one would expect from a womans’ university).  This special/male-free/distraction-free environment allowed Saejin to focus on her research under Professor So-Jung Park. In the Park lab, she studied the self-assembly of conjugated block copolymers at the air-liquid interface.  When research became a bit too much to handle, she went out for Korean BBQ and Soju with her lab mates to help her relax and regain strength.  The power of Korean BBQ gave her the courage to leave her home country in pursuit of a PhD 5,875 miles away in sunny Santa Barbara, CA. At UCSB, Saejin works on the synthesis of functional polymeric ionic liquids and measurement of their electrical and mechanical properties under the joint direction of Professor Michael Chabinyc and Professor Javier Read de Alaniz.  Korean BBQ and Soju still cheer her up when research gets tough, but she’s learning to stay more physically and mentally healthy by practicing yoga, playing golf, traveling, and hiking as part of her assimilation into Californian culture.

 
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SOphia Bailey

Sophia, named after Sofia of Lithuania the Duchess of Moscow, Jamie, after James Shaum, Bailey, not named after anything was born in February 1997 in Las Cruces in the cold desert of New Mexico. Early in her life she learned to defend herself against the coyotes, cacti and snakes while also figuring out that the only worthy food is (too) spicy food. In high school she found enjoyment in snarky comments (not missable in her close proximity even in present days) and running people over in roller derby for seven years. Enjoying the cold in New Mexico she chose New Mexico State University to stay true to their nickname “Aggies” in agriculture. Learning through the only mass spectrometry instrument on campus in the agricultural department about chemistry she knew her calling had come. Encouraged by the mascot Pistol Pete she worked on marine natural product synthesis in her undergraduate studies under Prof. William Maio.

By encountering the word marine for the first time in her life she decided to drag her cat, dog and boyfriend to the coast to actually see the ocean for herself choosing with UCSB the only viable place for grad school. While being all critical about the Californian Mexican food, and the too warm weather she secretly enjoys being able to see the sun through the lab windows on any given day while also being and avid marine surfer.

 
 
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Friedrich Stricker

Friedrich was born on a frigid August morning in Berlin where he was to remain cold for the first 18 years of his life. During his teen years he wrote a number of hit songs about the cold weather with his boyband “Fritz and the Schintzels.” Seeking a warm escape after gymnasium, Fritz made his way to Australia where he became a mediocre surfer, skilled kangaroo fighter and fearless snake charmer. After a year down under, he returned to Germany to complete his Bachelors and Masters in biomedical chemistry at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and reunite with the Schintzels. In effort to escape another German winter, Fritz travelled to UCSB as a visiting student in September of 2016. Within 6 mere months in warm California, he fell in love with the surf and sun and could no longer stand temperatures below a balmy 80 °F. He vowed to return to the warmth of UCSB after finishing his Master’s – and arrived wide eyed and bushy tailed in the Fall of 2018.

 
 
 

Undergraduate Students

 
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Jose Delgado

Jose was born in Denver, Colorado on a cold fall night in November. Growing up he didn’t do what people typically think Coloradans do: ski or snowboard. Instead he spent his days reading nerdy books or playing outside with his friends and his summers going to Mexico. In high school he was the captain of the soccer team, was soooo popular he won homecoming king and prom king. Papa Gates (Bill Gates) realized how popular he was (and saw that he was kind of smart) so he awarded Jose a ten year full ride scholarship: The Gates Millennium Scholarship. Tired of the cold winters and hot summers in Colorado, he left to Santa Barbara to bask in the sun and tan on the beach. He joined Dr. Read de Alaniz’s lab after getting into the UCSB Mcnair scholars program. Shortly after joining the lab, he decided he wanted to see the world and sailed around the globe visiting 14 countries in 10 months. He’s currently trying to finish his undergrad degree in biology, not chemistry, but when he’s not in lab or in school, he enjoys going on random photoshoots with friends, drawing, not texting people back, and being on Twitter. 

 
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Puck De Roos

Puck grew up in hot and humid Malaysia, where she spent her days fending off monkeys and kimono dragons. For high school her parents moved to sunny NorCal where she spent her days either playing waterpolo, basketball, or running track. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Professional Writing for Science Communication. She works in Dr. Read de Alaniz’s lab with Allison Abdilla, mainly trying not to blow things up. Along with the lab, on her free time Puck competes for the Division 1 Track and Field team for UCSB as a high jumper/heptathlete. She loves all animals (except cats which are just evil), loves the outdoors, and loves her family.

 
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Sara El-Arid

Sara was born in sunny Santa Clara, California before moving to Granite Bay, California. In Granite Bay Sara discovered two very important things about herself: her love for Chemistry and how much she didn’t want to live in Granite Bay. So off she went to sunny Santa Barbara in hopes of learning to surf and earning her B.S. in Biochemistry, however only one of those things (a degree) seems to be in her near future. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree Sara hopes to attend graduate school in order to pursue her PhD in Chemistry. When not conducting research or studying Sara enjoys painting, hot yoga and baking as many treats for her friends as possible!

 

Alumni

 
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Shay Nguyen

Shay was born in the rural country of Vietnam but she moved to a slightly less rural state of California after she swam across the Pacific Ocean. Some say she’s still swimming to this day. When she was twelve, she moved to Florida with her family because California wasn’t hot enough… or crazy enough… or had enough roaches. Thanks to the heat, she spent her time indoor doing chemistry and math problems, in which she won some national awards. Bill Gates (papi Gates as she calls him) was kind enough to give her a ten-year full-ride to any institution. Ironically, she still uses a MacBook. She took the offer and fled to Santa Barbara, where she graduated with a bachelor degree in Biochemistry. She joined Dr. Javier Read de Alaniz’s lab to skip some ochem classes. When she is not in the lab, she likes to sail, surf, paint, and play pool. She likes everything about cars except actually driving them. Also, before today she has never heard of a potato.


 
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Shelby Shankel

Shelby was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, home of Jungleland, one of Southern California’s first theme parks. However, due to a gruesome mauling (but mainly the opening of Disneyland), Jungleland closed its doors. Growing up in a city with such a dark history was rough on young Shelby, so she finally left for sunny Santa Barbara to eventually graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. However, a girl can leave Jungleland, but Jungleland never leaves a girl. So in an attempt to reconnect with her feral roots, Shelby sought out adventure in the Outback, the Peruvian Amazon, and the Galapagos Islands. But in all of her journeys, nothing has brought her closer to the wild and unruly environment of Jungleland than the Read de Alaniz group. When not in lab, Shelby likes to paint, hike, sail, and go to concerts in garages. Her friends say that she never texts back, has a bad immune system, and hates feet. Shelby has no comment on these charges.  

 
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Helena Steffens

 

Kate Lindsey

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Born and raised Seal Beach, California, Kate grew up loving food, the outdoors, and sunshine. Living on the beautiful golden coast for the first 18 years of her life, aided in the development of Kate’s zest for life. After attending San Diego State University for 2 years, she transferred to UCSB in hopes to challenge herself academically. The jump from one beach city to the next ended up being the most rewarding experience, especially after she joined Javier’s group. In Kate’s 2.5 years in Santa Barbara she earned a B.S. in Chemistry, studied while admiring the Pacific Ocean, and met some great people along the way. With guidance from her mentors, Kyle and Javier, her work on photochromic materials was enhanced after receiving the Undergraduate Research and Creative Studies Grant from UCSB. Outside of chemistry, Kate enjoys backpacking, hiking, dancing, eating, and enjoying quality time with friends. She also volunteer’s her time as a dental assistance at Goleta Neighborhood Dental Clinic, and works as an on-campus chemistry tutor for CLAS. After finishing her degree at UCSB, Kate sadly had to leave beautiful Santa Barbara in order to earn her Doctorate in Dental Surgery.