Meet the Team

Postdoctoral Scholars

smo5456 [at]

Dr. Shalisa Oburn

B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry:   Missouri State University

Ph.D. in Chemistry:  University of Iowa

Shalisa was born in Sacramento, CA, and has since then, been embarking on a long quest to become an 'East-Coaster' which started with achieving both B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry at Missouri State University under the supervision of Dr. Eric Bosch.  Shalisa then joined the University of Iowa and the group of Dr. Len MacGillivray for her Ph.D., where she worked on crystal engineering and organic solid-state reactivity.  Shalisa obtained her Ph.D. in July of 2019, and joined the Elacqua group in August as a PSU Eberly Fellow.  In her spare time, Shalisa invisions making a Supramolecular Chemistry coloring book, dreams about cyclophanes, and enjoys spending time with cats.  (We hope she also enjoys our lab 'cats,' both organic and metal-based!!)

All inquiries related to postdoctoral positions in the Elacqua Group should be emailed directly to Dr. Elacqua

Graduate Students

jjp47 [at]

Jacob Piane

B.S. in Chemistry:  University of Delaware, 2017

Jake was born and raised in Bear, Delaware.  He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2017 while working in the lab of Dr. Mary Watson studying new transition metal-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions for organic synthesis. Despite the 'summer of zero,' Jake maintained his persistent and keen interest in organic synthesis, and started a PhD program at PSU in the fall of 2017, joining the Elacqua Group in the winter.  He is currently working on the development of self-assembled polymers, while integrating his love of catalysis within the design.  In Jake's spare time, he enjoys trying to stay calm during Vikings games, playing frisbee, and banging on the drums.  Fun fact:  Jake has no concept of an 'inside voice.'

Tanner Geibel

B.S. in Biochemistry:  Slippery Rock University, 2017

Tanner was born in Butler, Pennsylvania and obtained his BS at Slippery Rock University.  As an undergraduate, Tanner worked under the guidance of Dr. George Lengyel to design and synthesize non-natural amino acids through a Ni-bound Schiff base complex.  Tanner took his love of Biochemistry to PSU, and joined the group in the winter of 2017, where he is working on the synthesis of molecular recognition-enabled polymers with an eye toward developing novel environmentally- and medically-relevant sensing platforms.  Tanner enjoys watching or playing hockey, listening to rock music, and running columns. As the Lab Safety Sheriff, you DON'T want to mess with him... 

tjg32 [at]

Stephen Koehler

B.S. in Chemistry:  Duquesne University, 2017


Stephen was born in Springfield, Ohio, and wisely moved to the great state of Pennsylvania to pursue his education.  He graduated from Duquesne University in 2017, while being an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Dr. Michael Van Stipdonk.  Stephen worked to 'synthesize' ions derived from anionic uranyl formate and uranyl acetate complexes.  All of that synthesis made him crazy for more, and in the fall of 2017, he enrolled in the PhD program at PSU, and subsequently joined the Elacqua group, where he could channel his inner love of synthesis.  Outside of lab work, Stephen enjoys watching morning sunrises over a cup of coffee, grading reports, and thumbing through "Classics in Total Synthesis."

sjk73 [at]

mcg45 [at]

Margaret Gerthoffer

B.S. in Biochemistry:  Seton Hill University, 2018


Margaret was born in Shaler, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Seton Hill University in 2018, while working on an Honors project in the labs of Drs. Ashley Bartelson and Christine Cusick.  She also participated in REU summer programs at Duquesne University (Dr. Ellen Gawalt) working on self-assembled monolayers for surface modification of titanium implant materials, and at PSU (Dr. John Asbury) studying the impact of ligand Lewis basicities on photoluminescence in lead halide perovskites.  Margaret joined the Elacqua group in Fall of 2018, where she will work on the synthesis and functionalization of carbon-based Nanomaterials.  In her spare time, she likes to play soccer and go hiking.  She tells us her eyes have embedded stimuli-responsive properties...!!  We will see...

Julia Berry (Co-advised with Dr. Ramesh Giri)

B.S. in Biochemistry:  The Ohio State University, 2018


Julia is from Delaware, Ohio, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2018, while conducting research in the labs of Dr. Noel Paul.  While in the Paul labs, Julia sought to develop a carborane-based macrocycle for metal ion chelation.  Julia spent the beginning of 2019 in the Elacqua labs, where she worked on small molecule synthesis of photoswitches.  In the Fall of 2019, she catalyzed a new collaboration between the Elacqua and Giri groups, wherein she is working to develop methodology for the synthesis of novel polymers and materials.  Julia is excited to work on a mixture of small molecule synthesis and methods development, while learning about 'larger, squishy' molecules as well!  In her spare time, Julia enjoys hiking, cooking, gardening, and watching animal videos.

jub1495 [at]

srh5411 [at]

Steven Huss (Co-advised with Dr. John Badding)

B.S. in Chemistry:  West Chester University, 2018


Steven was born in West Chester, PA and travelled far from home for his BS at West Chester University. There, Steven worked under Dr. Mark Shuman using Supercritical Fluid Chromatography to quantify capsaicinoids in hot peppers, while assisting in redesigning some experiments for the undergraduate organic chemistry lab. He also explored the photoluminescence quenching of silicon nanopores with Kurt Kolasinski.  Steven started an internship at Sartomer (Arkema Group) during the spring of 2017 and continued until the summer of 2018.  He then continued his great hike 'across' the state in fall 2018 to start the Ph.D. program here at PSU, joining the Badding Group shortly thereafter. In the fall of 2019, he joined the Elacqua Group and continued his work on reducing the pressure requirement for synthesizing carbon nanothreads. In his spare time, Steven enjoys listening to podcasts, hiking, and drinking coffee.

lalameda [at]

Lucas Alameda (Synthesis Sabbatical from the Schaak Group)

B.S. in Chemistry:  San Francisco State University, 2015


Lucas grew up in foggy Aptos, CA and obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the even foggier San Francisco State University.  Working in the lab of Bruce Manning, he studied the adsorption behavior of arsenate and arsenite on soil.  In search of sunnier skies, Lucas moved to central PA to pursue a Ph.D. under the mentorship of Ray Schaak at Penn State University.  For the last 4+ years, Lucas has developed the rational synthesis (or serendipitous discovery?) of metastable borides in the Schaak Lab.  Upon hearing of sunny days on the western side of the Chemistry Building, Lucas made the 'radical' pilgrimage to the Elacqua Lab in the winter of 2019 to search for the fabled C–C bond; since then, he has seen the light, and remains focused on elusive photoinitiated C–X bonds.  Lucas has been an avid fan of Penn State Men’s Basketball since before they were good (D. J. Newbill anyone?), and prides himself on never messing with the safety officer.

If you are interested in the graduate program in Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University, we encourage you to apply to our program!

Undergraduate Students

Jinzhen 'Hugo' Hu

Major: Chemical Engineering

Hugo comes to PSU from the small town of Yudu, China and is currently majoring in Chemical Engineering, while enjoying every minute of his organic chemistry classes!  His inner chemistry soul was activated in middle school when his teacher burned a strip of Magnesium as part of a demo.  Since then, he has longed to join a chemistry lab, don some PPE, and do some experiments.  He wasted no time, having started at PSU in the fall of 2017 and joining the group the following spring, where he will work to synthesize polymeric recognition and sensing systems.  Hugo entered PSU wondering why people were so excited about tossing a ball across a field, however, now he proudly bleeds Nittany Lion blue!

jmh7267 [at]

Lauren Chamberlain (co-advised with Dr. Christian Pester)

Major: Chemistry

Lauren comes to PSU from Horsham, Pennsylvania, and is currently a Chemistry major.  Lauren had been observing the Elacqua group  lab environment as a freshman, and now has officially joined in the Fall of 2018 as a jointly-advised student.  Her research focuses on the synthesis of light-mediated catalysts for installation into polymers and surfaces with Jake.  Lauren will look to continue this work and delve into more light-mediated reactions within the combined groups, as well as some continuous flow chemistry.  Post-graduationLauren aspires to go to graduate school and work toward a Ph.D. Lauren is a true Nittany Lion who loves PSU football, and in her spare time, enjoys fitness.

lec5399 [at]

Mitchell Giordano

Major: Chemistry

Mitch was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and is currently a junior majoring in Chemistry.  Mitch officially joined the group in January of 2019 and has been working on the synthesis of organic dyes and related molecules with Tanner, and is excited to make some polymers in the lab.  Post-graduation, Mitch plans to go to grad school and pursue his Ph.D. in Chemistry.  In his spare time, Mitch enjoys making red compounds and running red columns, but when he is unable to do that, he resorts to skiing, soccer, riding ATVs, and playing drums.

mkg5368 [at]

Matthew Schubach

Major: Chemistry

Matthew is from Lock Haven, PA, and enrolled at PSU in the Fall of 2018 as a Chemistry major, with intended minors in microbiology and biochemistry/molecular biology.  Matthew became interested in organic chemistry/synthesis and joined the group in the Spring of 2019 to work with Jake on catalysis.  In the future, he plans to study organic chemistry and obtain his Ph.D.  In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, tennis, and playing the violin and viola.  Er liebt auch Harry Potter (he has read it over 8 times, and currently is reading it in German!)!!

mms6823 [at]

Ashley Hoover

Major: Chemistry

Ashley hails from Erie, PA and joined the PSU community in the Fall of 2017 as a Chemistry major.  She loves organic chemistry (don't we all?!?!?!) and decided to inquire about research opportunities within our group in 2019.  Ashley will start working with the group in the Fall of 2019.  In the future, she plans to attend medical school with a focus on pediatrics.  In her spare time, she enjoys going to the gym, eating subway, and playing with her puppy.  Ashley comes to PSU with a black belt in karate, so we're thinking maybe she can learn to chop C–C bonds as well!!    

akh5266 [at]

Mengyi Sun

Major: Pre-medicine

Mengyi joined the PSU community in the Fall of 2018 from Cheshire, CT.  He is part of the 7-year Premed/Medical program.  Despite this, he decided to satiate his love of organic synthesis during these long years and started research in the Fall of 2019.  Mengyi joined Stephen and has been excited to partake in synthesis toward light-responsive molecules and materials.  Just like all PSU undergrads, Mengyi enjoys wearing blue and white on Fall Saturdays!  In his spare time, he enjoys playing volleyball and frisbee, as well as playing cards.  In the future, Mengyi plans to go to medical school, and focus on orthopedics.

mps6111 [at]

Group Alumni

Carmina Rogelio

B.S., Psychology

carmina [at]

Maria Gregor

B.S., Chemistry

mcg45 [at]

If you interesting in joining the team, email Prof. Elacqua directly!

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