top of page

The group in July 2021. Our first party together since the start of the pandemic!

Members: Team

Gabriel Ménard

Principal Investigator

Gab joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB in 2015 as an Assistant Professor. In 2021, he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and, in the summer of 2022, he moved back to Canada to join the University of Calgary.

Born and raised in Eastern Ontario, Canada, near the nation's capital, Gab first completed his B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Ottawa in 2006. He then moved to the west coast of Canada to undertake his M.Sc. at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver working on early metal dinitrogen activation in Prof. Mike Fryzuk's group (2008). Gab then pursued another one of his passions, studying climate change and its impacts by completing a Master's in Environmental Studies (M.E.S.) at York University in Toronto (2010). In 2009, he joined Prof. Doug Stephan's group at the University of Toronto to undertake his Ph.D. studies working on small molecule activation – in particular greenhouse gases – using P/Al-based frustrated Lewis pairs, and finishing up in 2013. Finally, Gab went to the U.S. to pursue his post-doctoral studies in Prof. Ted Betley's group at Harvard University. Here, he gained experience working on first-row transition metal clusters investigating metal-metal communication, high-valent Ni clusters, and small molecule activation.

See Gab's CV here.

Graduate Students


Gustavo Alcantara

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2020-present

               B.A., UT El Paso, 2020

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Bio: Gustavo was born in El Paso, TX and earned his BA degree in Biochemistry from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2020. There, he worked under the guidance of Professor Skye Fortier on making a terminal uranium nitride and making a dysprosium single-molecule magnet. In fall 2020, Gustavo moved to Santa Barbara to become a mediocre surfer and to pursue a PhD in chemistry in the Menard group.


Hila Benhaim

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2019-present

               B.A., Hunter College, 2019

Hometown: Queens, NY

Bio: Hila escaped the hustle of New York where she received her BA in Chemistry, working under the supervision of Dr. Spiro Alexandratos. In her spare time, she enjoys concerts, traveling, and going to the movies.


Arunavo Chakraborty

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2018-present

               B.Sc., Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, 2018

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Bio: Arunavo received his B.Sc from IISc, Bangalore, under the supervision of Prof. Naga Phani B Aetukuri. In his spare time, Arunavo likes eating hot and spicy food, catching up on anime and memes, playing World of Warships and going on road trips.

Shannon .jpg

Shannon Heinrich

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2018-present

               B.S., California Polytechnic State University, 2018

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Bio: Shannon received her B.Sc. from Cal Poly SLO in 2018 where she worked under Dr. David Zigler. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys hiking, skiing, backpacking and eating Mexican food.


Chae Yeong Kim

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2020-present

               M.S., Postech, South Korea, 2019

               B.S., Dongguk University, South Korea, 2017

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Bio: Chae left her hometown to Pohang, South Korea, and earned her M.S under supervision of Dr. Rhee. In her spare time, she likes to go surfing, cook and watch thriller and scary movies.   


Maxwell Mattejat

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2018-present

               B.S., UNC Wilmington, 2018

Hometown: Fulton, MD

Bio: Maxx received his B.Sc. from UNCW in 2018 working under the supervision of Dr. Jeremy Morgan. In his spare time, he enjoys surfing, hiking, cooking, photography and disc golf.


Zongheng Wang

Education: Ph.D. student, UCSB, 2017-present

               B.Sc., Iowa State University, 2017

Hometown: Nanjing, China

Bio: Raised in Nanjing, China, Zongheng received his B.Sc. from Iowa State and worked under Profs. Levi Stanley and William Jenks. In his spare time, Zongheng likes food, the gym, and traveling with friends to experience American culture.

Undergraduate Students


Matthew Avalos

Education: B.A., UCSB, 2018-present

Hometown: Anaheim, CA

Bio: Originally studying Biology, Matthew ended up switching to chemistry after finding a passion for organic chemistry. When not studying chemistry, Matthew enjoys producing Lofi and working out.


Daniel Pan

Education: B.S., UCSB, 2018-present

Hometown: Arcadia, CA

Bio: Born and raised in California, Daniel decided to study Chemistry at UCSB. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys hanging out with friends, watching movies and anime, and exploring foods from around the world.


Post-doctoral fellow:

Dr. Jiaxiang Chu, 2016-2018. Current position: Assistant

Professor, UCAS (China).


Graduate students:

Dr. Timothy Carroll, Ph.D., 2020. Current position:

Research Chemist, Clariant Specialty Chemicals.

Dr. Camden Hunt, Ph.D., 2019. Current position: Postdoc in

Berlinguette Group, UBC (Canada).

Dr. Samuel Jacob, Ph.D., 2021. Current position: Postdoc in

Crudden Group, Nagoya U (Japan).

Dr. Megan Keener, Ph.D., 2020. Current position: Postdoc in

Mazzanti Group, EPFL (Switzerland).

Chris Kirby, M.S., 2018. Current position: High-school

teacher in NJ (USA).

Dr. Madeline Peterson, Ph.D., 2021. Current position:

Postdoc in Berlinguette Group, UBC (Canada).

Dr. Anthony Wong, Ph.D., 2021. Current position: Postdoc in

Polly Arnold Group, UC Berkeley (USA).

Undergraduate students:

Afton Gustafson, 2019-2021

Rachel Garwick, 2017-2020

Gillian Kutrosky, 2018-2020

Delenn Ganyo, 2019-2020

Paige Dixon, 2020​​

Chenyue Yang, 2020
Jonas Kaare-Rasmussen, 2019

Rachel Huang, 2019

Solène Perot, 2019

Kevin Guevara, 2018

Clarissa Magallanes, 2018

Cassidy Anderson, 2017-2018

Ruoshui (Louis) Li, 2017-2018

Amaani Desai, 2017

Ali Mahdi, 2017

Yasmine Soliman, 2017

Natalie Kashanchi, 2016-2017

Clayton Silva, 2016-2017

Nicole Delgado, 2015-2016

Spencer Baker, 2015

bottom of page