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Janet Macdonald

Janet Macdonald

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

BSc 2003 McGill University

PhD 2008 University of Alberta

Post Doctoral Fellow 2008-10 The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Assistant Professor 2011- present Vanderbilt University

My education started in the very small town of Dorset Ontario in a school with 12 children and one teacher. Mrs. McLennan did a great job fostering my love to learn becasuse decades later, I still have yet to “finish” going to school. As a young student I seemed to be always starting out the window becasue I was facinated by the Crooks Radiometer on her classroom windowsill or the hoar frost that would cover the glass on winter mornings. I haven’t stopped thinking about solar energy and crystal growth since.

Graduate Sudents

Andrew LaCroix

Andrew LaCroix

I am originally from Spartanburg, SC. I graduated with my B. S. in chemistry from Lander University in Greenwood, SC. While pursuing this degree, I researched the synthesis of spiro orthocarbonate compounds for shrinkage reduction in epoxy telescope mirrors, as well as the synthesis of diazobenzene containing monomers for use in ultra-light weight photonic muscle telescopes under Dr. Lisa Brodhacker. My current research aim is to perform complete water splitting using hybrid nanoparticles with hole extracting ligands. In my free time I enjoy playing various musical instruments, staying active, and fixing things.

Jordan Rhodes

Jordan Rhodes

I am from Woodbury, NJ. I graduated from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ with a B.S. degree in chemistry. In my undergraduate research project I worked under Dr. Feng Chen on the synthesis of zinc titanium oxide doped with magnesium for electronic applications. My current research interests focus on synthesizing iron pyrite nanocrystals. My hobbies include playing basketball, watching movies, and drawing.



Evan Robinson

Evan Robinson

I was born and raised in Pensacola, FL and graduated from the University of Florida in the Fall of 2009 with a B.S. in chemistry. I subsequently worked in a ceramic membrane R&D laboratory in Pittsburgh from 2010-2011. Following this, I received a M.S. from the University of Oregon in semiconductor device processing, and did a nine-month co-op at Fairchild Semiconductor in Portland, ME. At Fairchild, I worked in the Process Technology Development group and split my time between working in the clean-room facility and developing scripts for the engineering department. I joined the Macdonald group in the Spring of 2015, and currently work with copper(I) sulfide nanoparticles. My wife and I live in Hillsborough Village and enjoy living in Nashville.

Christopher Sharp

Christopher Sharp

I was born in New York City and raised in Orlando, FL, where I graduated from Florida State University in Spring of 2013 with a B.S. in chemistry. My undergraduate research under Geoffrey Strouse PhD consisted of doping iron selenide nanoparticles with various transition metals to study the magnetic properties of the products, as well as nanoparticle formation via microwave synthesis. My current research interests involve cation exchange of copper sulfide particles to synthesize various semiconductors which use the unique anisotropy of hexagonal crystal phases to transfer charge with high degrees of efficiency.

Nathan Spear

Nathan Spear

I was born and raised in South Bend, IN. In the May of 2017 I received my B.S. in materials science engineering from Purdue University. During my time at Purdue I performed research in the field of polymer-controlled small molecule release. I worked on release rate control of H2S releasing SATO-functionalized poly(FBEMA) micelles in the lab of Professor John Matson. I am now developing a bismuth catalyst and cadmium selenide semiconductor hybrid nanoparticle for the photochemical reduction of CO2. Additionally, I am exploring the non-linear optical properties of plasmonic nanoparticle arrays. In my free time I enjoy playing board games, home winemaking, and reading history.

Madeline Fort

Madeline Fort

I am originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I graduated from Olin College with a B.S. in Engineering with a focus on Electronics Materials. During my summers, I did research on genetic algorithms for analog circuit design, I designed robotic equipment for anechoic chambers, and used sustainable design for urban development in Bogota, Colombia. During my senior year, I did research in using magnetic nanoparticles in RF circuits using additive manufacturing in order to make passive elements have a smaller footprint on printed circuit boards. Currently, my research is focused around using ligands to make iron pyrite more effective as a photovoltaic material. My current hobbies include playing soccer and pickleball, carving leather, making chainmail, and skiing and hiking.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Emil HernandezDr. Emil Hernandez

Our prodigal Post Doc.




Puxin Xuanyuan

Puxin Xuanyuan

I am a rising sophomore chemistry major at Vanderbilt originally from Knoxville, TN. My current research aim is the surface stabilization of pyrite using crystal-bound ligands created from unsymmetric disulfides. I am very grateful for my positions as a SyBBURE Searle Program participant and a Chancellor’s Scholar, which allow me to be here. Outside the lab, I hold roles as the program coordinator for the ACS club and a soprano in the Symphonic Choir at Blair. I enjoy triathlon training, carbs in many forms, and spending time with my two goldendoodles.


Yilun Zhao

Yilun (Paul) Zhao

I am from Shenzhen, China, and I am a sophomore majoring in chemistry. I joined the Macdonald group the spring semester of 2017 because I am interested in the field of nanoparticles. I am currently working with the post doc Dr. Hernandez on the second harmonic properties of plasmonic nanoparticles. My other involvements on campus include Vanderbilt Undergraduate Chinese Association, Asian New Year Festival, and Dores to China. In my spare time I like playing the piano and guitar, singing and exploring the food culture in Nashville.


Joe Veglak

Joe Veglak

I am from Foster City, California and I am an incoming junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology(RHIT). I joined the Macdonald group in the summer of 2018 as a part of the summer VINSE REU program at Vanderbilt and I joined the group because of my long held interest in nanoparticles and nanosynthesis. My current research aim involves working on synthesizing Nickel Sulfide nanocrystals. Some of my extracurricular interests include watching baseball, trying different types of food, and traveling.

Group Alumni

John Cliburn

(Undergrad 2018, Vanderbilt) Doing clinical research before applying for MD programs

Nikki Jenkinson

(Undergrad 2014-2018, Vanderbilt) Now pursuing MD/PHD at Johns Hopkins

Stephanie Castillo, MSc

(REU 2014, MSc 2015-2017, Vanderbilt) Now pursuing a PhD in the Hanusa Group

Alice Leach, PhD

(PhD 2013-2017, Vanderbilt) Clean Room Guru, Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Envineering (VINSE)

Shane Finn, PhD

(PhD 2011-2016, Vanderbilt) Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Suresh Sarkar, PhD

(Postdoc, 2014-16) Postdoc with Prof. Andrew Smith, University of Illinois

Michael Turo, PhD

(PhD, 2011-16, Vanderbilt) Postdoc with Prof. Alina Schimpf, UC San Diego

Summer Arrowood, MSc

(MSc, 2012-15, Vanderbilt) Chemist at Stony Creek Colors

Amadou Fall

(Undergrad, 2014-15, Tennessee State University)

Mathew Cleveland

(BA, 2015, Vanderbilt)-Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

Bryson Howard

(MSc, 2013, Vanderbilt)- Northwestern University and Improv Comedian

Nazharie Brandon

(Undergrad, Summer 2014, Vanderbilt)

Laura Mast

(Undergrad, Beckman Schollar, 2013-2014, Vanderbilt)- Graduate Program at Georgia Tech, NSF GRFP

Samantha Monk

(Undergrad, Summer 2012)

Erik Jewel

(Undergrad Summer 2012) – Graduate Program at Penn State