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Group Members


Nick Staudaher


Hobbies: In his spare time Nick enjoys skiing, rock climbing, biking, and generally being outside.

Year:  5th year Graduate Student


Research Project

Nick is studying the reactivity of nickel pi complexes, including the mechanism of formation of (Xantphos)Ni(alkyne) complexes and the mechanism of decomposition of (dppf)Ni(ketene) complexes. The findings of these studies explain why certain catalytic reactions are productive, when previous mechanistic work indicated that the catalysts are readily deactivated.

Nathan Spahn


About me: I am originally from the middle-of-nowhere Indiana and I completed my undergraduate studies at Indiana University. 

Hobies: I spend most of my free time hiking with my dog or at dog parks.  I also enjoy good books, television and video games.  Since moving to Utah, I've attempted to pick up skiing in the winters and more recently, climbing.

Year: 5th year Graduate Student



Research Project

Cycloaddition chemistry is an atom-economic way to form useful, complex products.  Many of these products are substituted carbocycles.  Chemoselectivity issues arise when heteroatoms are used, and I have helped to develop an iron-catalyzed cycloaddition forming pyridines from cyanamides and terminal alkynes.  The reaction is both chemo- and regioselective, which is a great improvement over current pyridine-forming cycloaddition reactions.  I am also interested in the mechanism of this reaction, and to that effect, have been synthesizing possible reaction intermediates to gather a better understanding of both how the reaction works, and how the iron system contributes to the regioselectivity that we observe.

Nabajit Lahiri


About me: I am originally from India. I completed my Bachelor of Science from Presidency University, India and my Master of Science from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India.

Hobbies: Playing my guitar, going for a hike and Photography.

Year: 5th year Graduate Student



Research Project

My research involves the synthesis and characterization of 2D π-conjugated Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) that have a honey-comb lattice structure. These MOFs, generally, show high electrical conductivities which make them perfect materials for fabricating electronic devices. My ultimate goal, however, is to realize 2D Organometallic Topological Insulators (OTIs) which would have immense potential in quantum computing and spintronic devices.

Stephanie Felten


About me: I was born in Germany and raised in a small town close to Hannover.  I completed my Bachelor of Science at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany under Supervision of Prof. Dr. Matthias Tamm.  My love next to Chemistry is being interactive with other people.  Each day needs to be created by yourself to be the happiest day of your life.

Hobbies: Horseback riding, baking, sports, and books.

Year: 3rd year Graduate Student


 Research Project

My current research project focuses on Nickel- N-heterocyclic carbene - catalyzed cyclization reactions to access biological active carbo- and heterocyclic substructures.  Furthermore, I am interested in the discovery and study of new ligand systems for their efficiency in transition-metal catalyzed cyclization reactions.

Andy Clevenger


About me: Outside of the lab I hike and backpack in the summer and ski in the winter.  I play horn in the Campus Symphony and Utah Philharmonia at the U’s School of Music.  I am also training to run a marathon.

Year: 3rd year Graduate Student



Research Project

My research investigates the potential reactivity of carbon dioxide, which is normally inert.  Previous work in the Louie Group has shown that stable Ni-ketene complexes can be isolated and studied.  The goal of my project is to synthesize stable Ni-CO2 complexes and then turn these complexes into stable Ni-ketene complexes by adding a phosphonium ylide. 

 Bri Esslinger


About me: I grew up in Northwest Wisconsin, surrounded by pine trees, corn fields and cows. I completed my bachelor’s degree at St. Norbert College, then moved out west to come to the U. I live in the city with my husband, my cat, and my dog.

Hobbies: Anime, gardening, baking, and napping.

Year: 2nd year Graduate student



Research Project

I’m working on a novel synthesis of (+)-septicine using chemistry developed by previous members of the Louie Group. The key reaction step is a cycloaddition of azetidinone and aryl-substituted alkynes. By completing this project, we will be able to access many alkaloids related to septicine, just by changing the starting materials.

 Noman Al


About me: Originally I am from Los Angeles, where I finished my high school and my undergraduate at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Year: 2nd year Graduate student



Research Project

My current research project under Dr. Janis Louie involves the synthesis of organophosphine-metal ligands in order to study their stability using NMR. The goal of my project is to further characterize the stability of the ligands by the addition of ketene groups in order to synthesize ketene complexes.  In my free time, I enjoy recreation activities such as rock climbing, hiking, and listening to music. I enjoy long drives through mountains as it helps me to be calm.

Jonas Renner


About me: Originally I am from Germany, finished my Bachelor Degree at the TU Braunschweig and am fortunate enough to continue my studies here in Utah. I love the mountains and National Parks and try to visit them regularly to relax and recover.

Hobbies: Gym, Running, Skiing, Hiking.

Year: 2nd year Graduate student


 Research Project

 I am investigating cycloadditions to selectively synthesize pyridines via iron(phosphine) catalysts. Our group already developed an iron-catalyzed cycloaddition forming pyridines from cyanamides and terminal alkynes. My goal is to extend our arsenal to synthesize more heteroarenes selectively.

Thanakorn K. Baker (TK)


About me: I’m originally from Kanchanaburi, Thailand. Formerly, I was a painter and a charcoal artist before I fell in love with organic chemistry. 

Hobbies: Kickboxing, drawing, and playing with kids

Year: 3rd Undergraduate Student

Research Project

The discovery of new ligand systems is an important tool in organometallic chemistry to optimize reactions. My current research project involves the assistance to synthesize optimized NHC-ligands, which are shown a high efficiency in transition- metal catalyzed cyclization reactions.

Mia Yu


About me: I am a junior in West High School's IB program. I'm interested in chemistry and biology, and am interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

Hobbies: Traveling, playing tennis and skiing.


Research Project

Isolation of intermediate species is a powerful tool in determining the mechanism of a reaction. To assist with the isolation of intermediates, I am working to create modified ligands that possess more favorable properties for growing single crystals.

Ashley Howell


About me: I am 16 years old and will be a junior at Hillcrest High School this fall. I enjoy working with my hands, engineering, and reading, and I hope to enter a STEM related career in the future.

Hobbies: Piano, robotics, and mock trial


Research Project

Various two dimensional materials are perfect for manufacturing electronic devices due to their high electrical conductivities. To aid research in this area, I am working on creating the precursors needed to make these materials.



Past Group Members

Postdoctoral Associates

Pramod Chapode 5/06 – 8/07 Assist. Professor; Coker College

Michael M. McCormick 10/04 – 8/05 Lecturer; Boise State

Andrew J. Price 3/02 – 7/02

Dawn Troast 7/06 – 5/08 Epix Pharmaceuticals

Rodrigo Cella 6/08 - 1/10

Graduate Students

Klleber Oliveira 2016 - 2017 Thesis Masters 2017

Jens Oberkofler 11/16 - 05/17 Thesis masters; Technische Universität München

Martin Conda-Sheridan 5/06 – 8/07 Med. Chem. Ph.D. Student; Purdue U

Michael J. Cross 2/04 – 7/04 U of U Chemistry Graduate Student

Shayna Cooke 3/05 – 6/05, 1/06 – 5/06 Thesis Masters 2006

Hung A. Duong 2/03 – 5/07 Ph.D.; postdoc in Cambridge 

Donna LaGarde 3/05 – 1/07

Thomas N. Tekavec Summer 2002 (HERF) – January, 2007 Ph.D.; Nalco

Gang Zuo 1/03 – 12/07 Ph.D.; Dupont China Holding Co.

Brendan d'Souza 1/07 - 7/11 Ph.D.; Postdoc in U.C. Santa Barbara

Bret Van Ausdall 1/07 - 9/11 Ph.D.;

Kainan Zhang 1/07 - 1/11 Ph. D.; Postdoc in U of Pittsburgh

David Thomas 1/08 - 12/11 Thesis Masters

Ronald BakusREU Student Summer 2005 Chemistry Graduate Student, U Kentucky
Elizabeth Black 12/06 – 12/08
John A. Brailsford Summer 2003 Chemistry Graduate Student, UCI
Michael S. Bultman NSF-REU Summer 2002 Chemistry Graduate Student, Sloan Kettering
Adrienne Carey 1/06 – 12/08 Medical Student, U of Utah 
Michael L. English Summer 2002 Medical Student, Ohio State U
Marc V. Farnworth UROP, Summer 2002 – Summer 2004 Medical Student, U of Michigan
John E. Gibby Pfizer Summer Fellowship, 2002Research Assist., Huntsman Institute
Jeremy L. GlassREU Student Summer 2007 Chemistry Graduate Student, UT Austin
Sebastian Herbrich Spring 2007
Monica IskandarREU Student Summer 2003
Virginia KincaidREU Student Summer 2008
Kristina SimonFall 2005
Hoa-Lan Vo REU Student Summer 2009 
Marshall Ward 2008
Kai Welke Fall 2007 
Kelly M. Wiggins REU Student Summer 2007 Chemistry Graduate Student, UT Austin

Last Updated: 6/3/21