Meet the Team

Postdoctoral Scholars

xrhu [at]

Xiaoran Hu

Ph.D. in Chemistry, Tufts University, 2017 (with Prof. Samuel Thomas)

B.S. in Chemistry, Nanjing University, 2010

Xiaoran was raised in Nanyang, China and attended college at Nanjing University.  He earned his Ph.D. degree from Tufts University in 2017 working with Professor Samuel W. Thomas III, where he developed new approaches for controlling the properties of soft materials using light.  In his spare time in Boston, he enjoyed boating in the Charles River in the summer and snowboarding in winter.  Xiaoran joined the Robb Group in November 2017 where he studies structure–mechanochemical reactivity relationships in polymeric materials, using ’force’ to push the frontiers of polymer research.

Graduate Students

memcfadd [at]

Molly McFadden (G3)

B.S. in Biochemistry, Indiana University, 2017

NSF Fellow

Molly was raised in Evansville, Indiana, along the scenic Ohio River.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry as an Indiana University Hoosier while working in the labs of Drs. Laura and Kevin Brown.  In a decision only marginally affected by Pasadena’s proximity to Disneyland, she made the 2,000 mile move out west to pursue graduate study at Caltech.  In her free time, Molly enjoys searching for LA’s best vegetarian tacos, knitting hats in the only pattern she knows, failing to leash train her cat, and complaining about California’s inferior corn.

rbarber [at]

Ross Barber (G3)

B.A. in Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, 2015

Ross grew up in snowy Fayetteville, New York.  He attended Johns Hopkins University and researched fluorination methods under the guidance of Prof. Thomas Lectka.  After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, he moved to Worcester, Massachusetts to join the team at Microbiotix, Inc., developing small molecule antibiotics and antivirals. Identifying more closely with long molecules, he left Massachusetts for sunny Pasadena to study polymer chemistry with Professor Robb.  For fun, he likes to carry all of the groceries up the stairs in one trip, go outside on a 60 degree day and not be cold, and put 10 mL beakers on the tips of his fingers.

aoverhol [at]

Anna Overholts (G2)

B.A. in Chemistry, Cornell University, 2018

NSF Fellow and Institute Fellow

Anna grew up in Zionsville, PA.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in chemistry at Cornell University. During her time at Cornell, she worked for Professors Will Dichtel and Geoff Coates, working first on covalent organic frameworks and then on epoxide polymerization.  After four years spent without seeing the sun, she visited Pasadena and realized a different sort of life was possible.  She now spends her free time bouldering, petting strangers’ dogs, enjoying good food, and trying to become a better cook to facilitate the eating of good food.

Brooke Versaw (G2)

B.S. in Chemistry, Texas A&M University, 2018

NSF Fellow

Brooke was raised in College Station, TX.  She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Texas A&M University, where she investigated the synthesis of polycarbonates from naturally-derived building blocks under the direction of Prof. Karen Wooley.  When not in lab exploring structure-property relationships in mechanochromic polymers, Brooke enjoys participating in science outreach activities, baking, and searching Pasadena for the perfect cup of coffee.

bversaw [at]

chusic [at]

Corey Husic (G2)

A.B. in Chemistry, Harvard University, 2017

Corey grew up in rural Kunkletown, Pennsylvania.  He then went on to Harvard University, where he studied chemistry with a minor in astrophysics.  While there, he worked under Prof. George Whitesides studying mechanisms of peptide polymerization in low-melting salt mixtures with implications for the chemical origins of life.  After college, Corey spent much of his next year living in the mountains of southwestern Uganda and then in Indonesian Borneo.  However, a bout of dengue fever and the excitement of graduate school eventually brought him back stateside.  For fun, Corey enjoys being outdoors, cross-tuning his fiddle, and eating pie for any meal of the day.

iklein [at]

Isabel Klein (G2)

B.A. in Chemistry, Barnard College, 2018

NSF Fellow and Institute Fellow

Isabel grew up in Oakland, CA before heading east to attend Barnard College in New York City.  There, she worked with Profs. Xavier Roy and Andrew Crowther, while taking advantage of the variety of activities NYC has to offer.  During her junior year, Isabel spent a semester studying in Dublin, Ireland working with Prof. Eoghan McGarrigle.  Seeking better weather and the beautiful outdoors of the west, Isabel returned to California to start her graduate studies at Caltech.  When not in lab, Isabel enjoys uphill hiking, talking about how happy she is to be back in California, and watching British panel shows.

tzeng [at]

Tian (May) Zeng (G2)

B.S. in Chemistry, University of California, San Diego, 2018

May grew up in Wuhan, Hubei, China, before flying over the Pacific Ocean to earn her B.S. in Chemistry from UCSD.  While there, she spent two years in Prof. Keary Engle’s lab at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), just 30 mins away.  At TSRI she studied directed Pd-catalyzed alkene difunctionalization reations, while catching sunsets on the ocean across the Torrey Pines golf course.  After graduation, she spent a summer working as an intern for the Discovery Chemistry department at Genentech, South San Francisco, before heading back to the warm embrace of southern California.  Outside of lab, May likes to travel, dance, cook, watch TV shows, and attempt to learn painting.

Undergraduate Students

Jolly Patro

Chemical Engineering, Caltech (Class of 2023)

Jolly grew up in Olathe, Kansas. She attended Olathe North High School where she developed her love of chemistry through participating in the Faraday Society, a science outreach group that presents chemistry demonstrations to the public. After high school, she decided to attend Caltech to pursue her interest in materials science and chemistry. Jolly enjoys watching The Great British Baking Show and attempting to replicate their recipes, playing bluegrass on the viola, and collecting absurd amounts of stationery.

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