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Research at the Intersection of Synthetic Organic, Physical Organic, and Polymer Chemistry

News

Max promoted to Professor with tenure!

Max was granted tenure today and promoted to Professor of Chemistry at Caltech! I am beyond grateful to the amazing students, colleagues, mentors, family, and friends that helped me get here. Thank you!

Congrats Dr. Tian Zeng!

Congrats to Tian (May) for successfully defending her PhD thesis! PhD #7 for the Robb group! May will soon be moving to the east coast to start a postdoc at Janelia working with Dr. Luke Lavis. Good luck, May! 

Our latest paper was published in JACS! Congrats to May!

Congratulations to Tian (May) and coauthors Liam and Peng on their latest publication appearing in JACS! We introduce a new nonscissile mechanophore for mechanically triggered small molecule release enabling the preparation of multimechanophore polymers capable of releasing hundreds of small-molecule payloads. Read more about it here.

Our latest paper was published in Chemical Science! Congrats to Debbie!

Congratulations to Yu-Ling (Debbie) and coauthor Tian (May) on their latest publication appearing in Chemical Science! We leverage the unique fragmentation pathway of an aryloxy-substituted 2-furylcarbinol derivative to design a mechanophore incorporating a self-immolative linker that is capable of dual payload release. Read more about it here

Patent issued!

We had a patent issued today! "Mechanical regulation of photoswitching." U.S. Patent 11,834,442 issued December 5, 2023. Congrats to former postdoc and coinventor Xiaoran Hu on this achievement! 

Welcome to new graduate students Analiese, Nathan, and Liam!

We are excited to welcome first year graduate students Analiese Wiedenbeck, Nathan Ballinger, and Liam Ordner to the Robb group! Analiese earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Colorado State University; Nathan earned a B.S. in Chemistry from University of Washington; and Liam earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Geogia Tech. Welcome aboard!

Max joins EAB for RSC Mechanochemistry

Max joined the Editorial Advisory Board for RSC Mechanochemistry. The launch of this new journal captures the excitement and potential of this rapidly growing discipline and affords a unique opportunity to showcase the diversity, creativity, and impact of the field.

Our latest paper was published in PNAS! Congrats to Molly, Yuxing, and everyone involved!

Congratulations to Molly, Yuxing, and colleagues on our new paper appearing today in PNAS! In collaboration with the Shapiro group, we demonstrate that biocompatible focused ultrasound can be used to activate mechanophores for triggered molecular release under physiological conditions. The trick? Protein nanostructures called gas vesicles that function as acousto-mechanical transducers. We are excited about the possibilities this work enables for translating polymer mechanochemistry for biomedical applications. Congrats to all! Read the paper here. Also check out the Caltech news story here, and a story in Physics World here.

Our latest paper was published in Chemical Science! Congrats to Yan!

Congratulations to Yan and coauthors Molly, Skylar, and Ross on their latest publication appearing in Chemical Science! We demonstrate that a polarizing dialkylamine substituent engenders a linear naphthopyran motif with anomalous photochromic and mechanochromic behavior. Read more about it here

Max receives National Fresenius Award!

Max received the 2023 National Fresenius Award! Check out the announcement in C&E News, the Phi Lambda Upsilon website, and the list of prior awardees. A huge thank you to the members of the Robb group and our supporters for this recognition.

Our latest paper was published in Chemical Science! Congrats to Molly!

Congratulations to Molly and coauthors Ross and Anna on their latest publication appearing in Chemical Science! We provide a comprehensive perspective on naphthopyran switches and their emergent mechanochemical reactivity. Read it here.

The group receives a grant from the Army Research Office!

The Robb group was awarded a grant from the Army Research Office to support our research on mechanically gated reactions for force-adaptive polymeric materials! ARO has been a prominent supporter of polymer mechanochemistry research and we are excited to get involved. 

The group receives an R35 (MIRA) grant from NIH!

The Robb group was awarded an R35 (MIRA) grant from the NIH (NIGMS) to support our research on mechanically triggered molecular release! We are thrilled for this opportunity to continue advancing our research in this area and for new directions and challenges. Keep your eyes peeled for exciting developments in this space!

Jolly wins Frederick W. Hinrichs, Jr. Memorial Award!

Congratulations to Jolly Patro on receiving the Frederick W. Hinrichs, Jr. Memorial Award recognizing a Caltech senior who made the greatest contribution to the student body and whose character, leadership, and responsibility have been outstanding. A truly well deserved recognition! We are so proud of you. 

Molly receives Herbert Newby McCoy Award!

Molly was selected to receive the 2023 McCoy Award, which is presented annually to recognize the most outstanding achievements in research by a CCE graduate student. Congratulations, Molly!

Congrats Dr. Anna Overholts!

Congratulations to Anna for successfully defending her PhD thesis! PhD #6 for the Robb group! This summer, Anna will be moving north to the San Jose area to begin a job as a technical consultant at Exponent. Good luck, Anna! 

Our latest paper was published in Polymer Chemistry! Congrats to Skylar, Molly, and May!

Congratulations to Skylar and coauthors Molly and May on their latest publication appearing today in Polymer Chemistry! We describe a new 2H-bis-naphthopyran mechanophore that generates an unusually stable bis-merocyanine dye with force. Kudos to Skylar for some serious analytical depth. Check it out here.

Congrats Dr. Ross Barber!

Congratulations to Ross for successfully defending his thesis today! Ross will move to the east coast to start a new position at Impact Nano near Boston, MA. Good luck, Ross! We will miss you. 

Congrats Dr. Corey Husic and Dr. Brooke Versaw!

Congratulations to Corey and Brooke for successfully defending their theses on April 21st and April 24th, respectively! Corey will start at Dow in Performance Silicones and Brooke will head to Northrop Grumman in the Future Technical Leaders program. Good luck to you both! 

Congrats Dr. Molly McFadden!

Congratulations to Molly for successfully defending her thesis today! This summer Molly will head to UC Berkeley to start her postdoc as a Miller Research Fellow. We are so proud of you!

Jolly wins oral presentation award at ACS meeting!

Congratulations to Jolly for winning the Second Place Oral Presentation Award in the POLY Undergraduate Research Symposium at the spring 2023 ACS meeting! 

Congrats Dr. Quan Gan!

Congratulations to Quan for successfully defending his thesis today! Quan was the last PhD student in the Grubbs group and joined the Robb group after Bob's passing in 2021. Quan will return to China to start a job at Huawei. Good luck! 

Our latest paper was published in ACS Macro Lett! Congrats to Molly, Anna, and Skylar!

Congratulations to Molly and coauthors Anna and Skylar on their latest publication appearing today in ACS Macro Letters! We validate an initial rates method that enables the accurate and rapid determination of rate constants for ultrasound-induced mechanochemical transformations. Check it out here.

Max receives Rose Hills Foundation Innovator Award!

Max received the 2023 Innovator Award from the Rose Hills Foundation! We are very grateful for this recognition and funding that will support our research on naphthopyran mechanochemistry. 

Patent issued!

Our group's first patent was issued today! "Method for controlled release using mechanical force." U.S. Patent 11,584,752, issued February 21, 2023. Congrats to coinventors May Zeng and Xiaoran Hu on this achievement! 

Our latest paper was published in Nature Chemistry! Congrats to Anna and Wendy!

Congratulations to Anna and Wendy on their latest publication appearing in Nature Chemistry! We developed a mechanophore platform enabling the mechanically gated formation of DASA dyes/photoswitches, and used this chemistry to establish a novel method of mechanochemical multicolor lithography. Read the paper here, and check out the news articles from Caltech (here) and Nature Chemistry (here).

Molly awarded Miller Research Fellowship!

Molly McFadden was awarded the prestigious Kathryn A. Day Miller Research Fellowship at UC Berkeley! After graduating from Caltech, she will conduct postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Prof. John Hartwig. Congratulations Molly! 

Max named a 2022 ACS Polymers Au Rising Star!

Max was named a 2022 ACS Polymers Au Rising Star! Check out the announcement, and read our original contribution to this special issue by Stella, Ross, and Anna here.

Our latest paper was published in JACS! Congrats to Molly, Skylar, and Yan!

Congrats to Molly and coauthors Skylar and Yan on their latest publication appearing in JACS! We show that mechanical force enables an anomolous dual ring-opening reaction of naphthodipyran to generate an unusual dimerocyanine dye with near-IR absorption. Read the paper here, and check out a Research Highlight in Nature Synthesis here. We even wrote a little poem about it:


Naphthodipyran.

Two paths diverge, one old of light and one of force anew.

Though light can open only one ring, force pries open two!

Our latest paper was published in ACS Polymers Au! Congrats to Stella, Ross, and Anna!

Congrats to Stella and coauthors Ross and Anna on their latest publication in ACS Polymers Au! We highlight the significant difference in mechanochemical reactivity between furan-maleimide and anthracene-maleimide mechanophores, despite similar reactivity predicted by CoGEF calculations. Read more about it here

Anna awarded Barbara J. Burger Graduate Fellowship!

Congratulations to Anna who was awarded the 2022-23 Barbara J. Burger Graduate Fellowship! 

Our latest paper was published in ACS Macro Letters! Congrats, Corey!

Congratulations to Corey and Xiaoran on their latest publication appearing in ACS Macro Letters! We describe a new mechanophore design that enables the effiecient release of cargo molecules in aprotic environments. Read more here.

Jolly named a 2022 John Stauffer SURF Fellow!

Congratulations to Jolly Patro on being named a 2022 John Stauffer SURF Fellow at Caltech! 

Anna's paper featured on the front cover of ACS Macro Letters!

Anna's recent paper was featured on the front cover of the June issue of ACS Macro Letters! Check it out here.

The Robb Group welcomes Amgen Scholar Liam Ordner!

We are excited to welcome Liam Ordner this summer as an Amgen Scholar! Liam joins us from Georgia Tech where he has been working in the Gutekunst Group. 

Our latest paper was published in ACS Macro Letters! Congrats, Anna!

Anna's paper examining how mechanophore activity influences the selectivity of mechanochemical chain scission was published today in ACS Macro Lett! Check it out here

Max receives 2022 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award!

Max was named a 2022 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar! Many thanks to the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation for this incredible honor and to the extraordinarily talented members of the Robb group that made it possible! Link here.

We wrote about some awesome research from the Moore group!

Ross and Max were excited for the opportunity to highlight recent research from the Moore group on mechanically triggered release of carbon monoxide with turn-on aggregation-induced emission. Check out the highlight here, which was published in the journal Aggregate.

Max receives 2022 PMSE Young Investigator Award!

Max was selected as a 2022 PMSE Young Investigator!  He will present a lecture during the fall ACS meeting in the PMSE Young Investigator Symposium, which is a forum to highlight the professional accomplishments of early-career investigators who are emerging as leaders in the field of polymer science and engineering. Link here.

Max selected as an ORGN Academic Young Investigator!

Max was selected to speak in the Academic Young Investigators Syposium held by the Organic Division of the American Chemical Society at the upcoming fall ACS meeting in Chicago. The symposium will feature pre-tenure professors and will "highlight the vitality of research in the field of organic chemistry."

The group receives a NSF CAREER Award!

Quite the exciting day!  We also received the official award notice for a NSF CAREER award (CHE-2145791) that will support our research on naphthopyran mechanochemistry as well as a number of educational initiatives to broaden participation and enable training of undergraduate and graduate students. Props to students Molly and Skylar who contributed significantly to the proposal! Link here.

Max receives 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship!

Max was selected as a 2022 Sloan Research Fellow! Many thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for this tremendous honor and to the hard work and creativity of the Robb group for making it possible! Link here.

Our latest paper was published in Macromolecules! Congrats to Anna and Molly!

Congratulations to Anna and Molly for their recent paper published in Macromolecules! We systematically investigated different methods of characterizing activation rates for scissile mechanophores and provide insight into the role of molecular weight dispersity on ultrasound-induced mechanophore activation. Read more about it here!

Our latest paper was published in JACS! Congrats to Brooke, May, and Xiaoran!

Out now in JACS, we provide our perspective on the development of mechanophores for molecular release and the future of this exciting research area. Congratulations to Brooke and coauthors May + Xiaoran for leading the effort! Check it out here.

Welcome to new graduate students Debbie and Yan!

We are excited to welcome first year graduate students Yu-Ling (Debbie) Tseng and Yan Sun to the Robb group! Debbie recently earned a M.S. in Chemistry from National Taiwan University and Yan earned a B.S. in Chemistry from SUSTech (Shenzhen, China). Welcome aboard!

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