Current Group Members

Post-doctoral Scholars and Graduate Students

Gianmarc Grazioli

Post-doctoral Scholar

Joint Post-doc with Carter Butts (Sociology, Statistics, and EECS, UCI)
Ph.D.Theoretical Chemistry, UCI, 2015
M.S. Chemistry, Villanona University, 2007
B.S. Comprehensive Science, Villanona University, 2004
B.A. Liberal Arts, Villanona University, 2003

Fun Fact: Gianmarc can often be found ‘whipping his hair back and forth’ to music by Willow Smith.

Megha Unhelkar

Analytical Chemistry Graduate Student

M.S. Pharmacology, Northeastern University, 2013
B.S. Pharmacy, University of Mumbai, 2011

Fun Fact: While hiking across the Rockies last summer, Megha adopted a baby puma. “It was the most magical eight minutes of life before we were nearly mauled,” she said.

Vy Duong

Biophysical Chemistry Graduate Student

Joint Student with Ray Luo (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry UCI)
B.A. Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley, 2013

Fun Fact: Vy has vision better than 20/20. Despite this, she insists on wearing glasses as a “fashion statement.”

Jessica Kelz

Chemical and Materials Physics (ChaMP – Chemistry) Graduate Student

B.S. Chemistry, Mandarin Chinese Minor, US Naval Academy, 2008

Fun Fact: While abroad before graduate school, Jessica spent over a year teaching children how to yodel. “If yodeling isn’t music, then I don’t know what music is” she says.

Marc Anthony Sprague-Piercy

Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Graduate Student

B.S. Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, University of California – Irvine, 2015

Fun Fact: Marc thinks he’s funny. Example: What did the fish say when he hit a concrete wall? ‘Dam’.

Brenna Norton-Baker

Organic Chemistry Graduate Student

B.S. Biochemistry, B.A. Chemistry, College of Charleston, 2015

Fun Fact: When not working in lab, Brenna can be found woodworking. Her most notable works are a 15 foot tall replica Trojan horse and 1/100 scale model of the the Eiffel Tower!

Jose Uribe

Physical Chemistry Graduate Student

Megan Rocha

Chemical Biology Graduate Student

Fun Fact: Megan has a recurring dream about burrito babies, so now she insists on naming each one of the burritos she orders. Some of her favorites are Vegeta (vegetarian), Hamilton (carnitas), and Keegan (vegan).

Undergraduate Researchers

David Einstein

Biological Sciences Major (2020, Expected)

Fun Fact: David plays a five string bass guitar in an air band named “Consequence of Sound.”

Alexandra Garabedian

Chemistry Major (2020, Expected)

Fun Fact: She loves travelling and skiing with her family in the Alps. A big fan of the movie “Cool Runnings”, she carries a lucky egg with her whenever first attempting a new piste.

Ashley Kwok

Chemistry Major (2020, Expected)

Fun Fact: Ashley is the proud owner of a rescue ferret named Mossbauer. One of her dreams is for Mossbauer to qualify to compete at the Chatsworth County Fair which is known as the Kentucky Derby of ferret racing. 

Chieh-Ting Pu

Chemistry Major (2020, Expected)

Quynh Ton

Chemistry Major / Biology Minor (2020, Expected)

Shengdong Wang

Chemistry Major (2020, Expected)

Fun Fact: Most people respond by yawning when they see someone else yawn. Shengdong is prone to involuntarily sneezing when he sees someone yawn.

Elliott Einstein

Biology Major / Chemistry Minor (2021, Expected)

Fun Fact: He intentionally pops his lab coat collar. Not only is it more safety conscious, but as a fan of tennis, he claims it helps him “get his head in the game” in lab.

Allison Pineda

Biology Major (2021, Expected)

Fun Fact: Allison enjoys watching horror films but does have an interesting phobia. She is scared of the sound of cracking knuckles (Condylacousticophobia).

Sofiya Momoko Woodcock

Double Major in Chemistry and Criminology, Law and Society (2021, Expected)

Fun Fact: Sofiya is a saber fencer. To get amped up for a match she uses the mantra “My name is Sofiya Woodcock. You assaulted my plastron. Prepare to die!”

Pauniz Shabakesaz

Vesta Farahmand

Honorary Pet Members


Rescue from Newport Beach Animal Shelter. Loves people, food, and running. Thankful neither of his parents work with lasers…he doesn’t trust them. Follows the central dogema. Ironically hates water. @pugneptune