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The group in June 2023 at beautiful Moraine Lake. Missing: Shannon, Hila, and Arun.

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.

Postdoctoral Fellows


Jitendrasingh Rajpurohit, Ph.D. – UCalgary

Experiences: PDF, University of Calgary, 2023-present

               PDF, Université Laval, 2022-2023

               PDF, Tel Aviv University, 2019-2022

Education: Ph.D., IIT Bombay, 2019

               M.Sc., Pondicherry University, 2012

               B.Sc., University of Mumbai, 2010

Bio: Jitendra received his Ph.D. from IIT Bombay, India, under the supervision of Prof. Maheswaran S. In his spare time, he enjoys watching and playing cricket, and spending time with his lovely daughter.


Benjamin Rennie, Ph.D. – UCalgary

Experiences: PDF, University of Calgary, 2023-present

Education: Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2022

                   B.Sc., University of Alberta, 2017

Hometown: St. Albert, Alberta

Bio: Ben received his PhD from the University of Toronto working under the supervision of Prof. Bob Morris, mainly studying paramagnetic transition metal hydride complexes. Besides chemistry, Ben likes to go running and hiking, and also enjoys gardening and playing the piano.

Graduate Students


Gustavo Alcántara – UCSB and UCalgary

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

               B.A., UT El Paso, 2020

Hometown: El Paso, Texas

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 Ménard group.


Hila Benhaim – UCSB and UCalgary

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

               B.A., Hunter College, 2019

Hometown: Queens, New York

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 – UCSB

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 – UCSB

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

               B.S., California Polytechnic State University, 2018

Hometown: San Diego, California

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.


Ruvini Kirihettiliyanage – UCalgary

Education: M.Sc. student, UCalgary, 2023-present

               B.Sc., UCalgary, 2023

Hometown: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Bio: Ruvini received her B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Calgary in 2023 and worked under the supervision of Prof. Jen Love. In her free time, Ruvini is usually out exploring the Rockies or has her nose burried in a fantasy book.


Sania B. Mostaghimi – UCalgary

Education: M.Sc. student, UCalgary, 2023-present

               B.Sc., University of Tabriz, 2022

Hometown: Tabriz, Iran

Bio: Sania received her B.Sc. from the University of Tabriz under the supervision of Prof. Mahmoud Zarei. In her spare time, Sania enjoys hiking, eating sushi, reading social sciences books, and watching anime.

Undergraduate Students


Alex Hankins – UCalgary (ICE Student)

Education: B.Sc., Wilfrid Laurier University, 2020-present

Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario

Bio: As an Inorganic Chemistry Exchange (ICE) student, Alex traveled from Ontario to Alberta to study inorganic chemistry for the summer in Gab's lab. When not in the lab, you'll find Alex hiking, biking, and spending time with friends.


Nathan Leonard – UCalgary (ICE Student)

Education: B.Sc., University of Victoria, 2021-present

Hometown: Victoria, BC

Bio: A real BC kid, Nathan joins the Ménard Group from Victoria for the 2023 Inorganic Chemistry Exchange program. For the last year, Nathan has worked on alginate bioplastics, supervised by Dr. Heather Buckley. Outside work, Nathan likes to spend time with friends, read, and drink coffee.


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: Program

Manager of CEDI, MIT (USA).

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).

Chae Yeong Kim, M.S., 2022. Current position: In South


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

teacher in NJ (USA).

Dr. Maxwell Mattejat, Ph.D., 2023. Current position:

Research Triangle (USA).

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

Senior Scientist, Donaldson (USA).

Dr. Zongheng Wang, Ph.D., 2022. Current position:

Postdoc in Concepcion Group, Brookhaven (USA).

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

Polly Arnold Group, UC Berkeley (USA).

Undergraduate students:

Matthew Avalos, 2021-2023

Lucas Pattantyus, 2023

Daniel Pan, 2020-2022

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

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