Committee Members

Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee members
GSSPC members, from left: Kimberly Hartstein, Kimberly Davidson, Mark Ziffer, Yunqi Yan, Heidi Nelson, Jenny Yitong Zhang, Danielle Henckel, Sarah Vorpahl, Charles Barrows. Not pictured: Jessica Wittman.

Kimberly HartsteinCommittee Chair: Kimberly Hartstein is a second-year graduate student working with Professor Daniel Gamelin to study the optical and electronic properties of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals. As an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, she studied photoreactions in supramolecular complexes via solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR) with Professor Sophia Hayes. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree with majors in both chemistry and anthropology, Kimberly studied in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar working with Professor Hellmut Eckert at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster to synthesize yttrium-aluminoborate glasses doped with rare-earth elements and study their optical properties via SSNMR. She has presented posters at both national and international conferences, including the Rocky Mountain Conference on SSNMR and Germany’s Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker Wissenschaftsforum Chemie funded by an ACS Student Travel Award. Kimberly is a 2013 recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Outside the lab, she enjoys practicing yoga and spending time outdoors.

Sarah VorpahlProgram Chair: Sarah Vorpahl is a second-year graduate student working in Professor David Ginger’s lab and a Fellow of the Advanced Materials for Energy Institute at the University of Washington. Her research is on the characterization of kesterite thin film photovoltaic devices using scanning probe microscopy (SPM). She is most interested in understanding the correlation between electrical and morphological properties of these renewable energy devices on the nanoscale. For this work she was recently awarded a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship by the Department of Defense. Since starting at UW in the fall, Sarah has taken part in many groups that seek to connect with underrepresented communities within STEM. She is the founder and president of Women in Chemical Sciences at UW, with whom she has personally planned many successful events. She is also a member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists (SACNAS) and worked at the national conference put on by the UW chapter this past October in Seattle. She has also attended and presented at several past SACNAS national conferences as an undergraduate at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), where her research focused on using SPM to characterize global structural changes of a unique red-light photoreceptor under the guidance of Professor Kenneth Nicholson. Sarah has also presented chemical education research about online reporting for organic chemistry labs at the ACS Biennial Conference on Chemical Education in Denton, TX in August of 2010. In her spare time, Sarah participates in many outreach efforts that seek to educate the public about renewable energy and nanotechnology.

Danielle HenckelFundraising Chair: Danielle Henckel is a second-year graduate student working with Professor Brandi Cossairt. Her research involves photochemical approaches to drive proton reduction catalysts and effective catalyst attachment to light-absorbing semiconductors. In 2012 she graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with an honors degree in Chemistry. While at IU she did her undergraduate research under the guidance of Professor Daniel Mindiola, working with metal-ligand multiple bonds. For her research she received the IU Chapter Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Award.


Charles BarrowsLogistics Chair: Charles Barrows is currently a third-year graduate student in chemistry at the University of Washington, studying magneto-optical properties of doped semiconductor nanocrystals in the Gamelin group.  He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, where he won the 2011 Arthur Wahl Award for excellence in inorganic chemistry.  As an undergraduate, he performed research in Professor Daniel Giammar's Aquatic Chemistry Laboratory in the Department of Energy, Environmental, & Chemical Engineering.  There, he worked with scientists from all over the world to study biogeochemical processes influencing the stability of uranium species produced during in-situ bioreduction for remediation of contaminated Department of Energy sites.

Heidi NelsonPublic Relations Chair: Heidi Nelson is currently a second-year graduate student in chemistry at the University of Washington, studying the magnetic and optical properties of semiconductor nanoparticles and their applications for renewable energy in the Gamelin group. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2012. Her undergraduate research, with Professor Christy Haynes, focused on the properties and applications of plasmonic nanomaterials. She also participated in the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Research Experience for Undergraduates (NNIN REU) program in summer 2010, working with Professor David Ginger at the University of Washington. Heidi is a founding member and the current secretary of Women in Chemical Sciences at UW. She is a 2013 recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Jessica WittmanFinance Chair: Jessica Wittman is a fifth-year chemistry graduate student at the University of Washington. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Montana State University in 2009 where she did undergraduate research with Professor Trevor Douglas and Professor Robert Szilagyi. She was also participated in two Research Experience for Undergraduate programs at Colorado State University in 2007 and University of Florida in 2008. From her work in these labs, she developed a particular interest in inorganic chemistry. She now studies proton-coupled electron transfer reactivity of ruthenium complexes in Professor Jim Mayer’s lab. She was awarded a Graduate School Travel Award to present her research at the 1st International Conference on Proton Coupled Electron Transfer in the Loire Valley, France in 2011. She is also interested in communication of science to non-scientists along with empowerment of women in science, and is the treasurer of the Women in Chemical Sciences at UW.

Mark ZifferCommunications Chair: Mark Ziffer is a second-year graduate student in chemistry at the University of Washington, working in the lab of Professor David Ginger. His research focuses on understanding polymer/electrode interfaces in organic semiconductor devices. He received his B.A. in Chemistry from Colby College in Waterville, ME in 2011 where he worked for Professor Rebecca Conry studying novel Cu(I)-arene complexes. From 2011-2012 he worked for Dr. Khalil Amine at Argonne National Laboratory researching advanced cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. He is a proud native of Merion, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. In his free time Mark enjoys playing music, rock climbing, and eating good food.


Kimberly DavidsonDocumentations Chair: Kimberly Davidson is a second-year graduate student in the Bush group, studying the physical fundamentals of electrospray ionization in mass spectrometry. She attended the University of Oregon, where she studied molecular dynamics in the Guenza group, simulating di-ubiquitin. As an undergraduate, she was nominated for departmental honors and received the 2012 Richard M. Noyes Physical Chemistry Achievement Award.


Yunqi YanYunqi Yan is a fourth-year graduate student in Professor Ginger’s group in the Department of Chemistry. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Beijing Normal University in China in 2010, where she did her undergraduate research in the field of biochemistry and computational chemistry with Professor Ouyang Jin and Professor Decai Fang. Now she studies DNA functionalized gold nanoparticles and synthesizes light responsive DNA molecules to speed up genetic tests. She published her research results in Nano Letters (2012) and Journal of the American Chemical Society (2013) as the first author in both cases.  Yunqi received a Departmental Graduate Student Merit Fellowship in 2012. Later that year, she earned the graduate travel grant to present her research as a talk in the fall Material Research Society (MRS) national meeting. Yunqi likes to share her research with the public. She is a science communication fellow at the Pacific Science Center and serves in its Scientific Spotlight. In her leisure time, she likes the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking and skiing very much.

Jenny Yitong ZhangJenny, Yitong Zhang is currently a fourth-year graduate student in the Sasaki group in the Department of Chemistry at University of Washington, Seattle. Jenny’s research project involves synthesis of Artemisinin derivatives and their nanoparticle formulations toward treating human breast cancer. Having a Chinese background, Jenny has always been interested in medicinal uses of natural products and their derivatives. Upon graduating from International School of Beijing in 2007, Jenny pursued her undergraduate studies at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) where she graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry (First Honors) and was invited to deliver the valedictorian speech at the School of Science Class of 2010 Congregation. At HKUST, Jenny conducted her undergraduate research thesis in Professor Richard Haynes’ group working on total synthesis of unnatural derivatives of Artemisinin. In addition to her “China meets US” educational background, Jenny has also traveled to Switzerland, where she participated in the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) School of Life Sciences Summer Research Scholars Program, as a member of Professor Hilal Lashuel’s lab focusing on total chemical synthesis of a-Synuclein.


Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee members