Lab Members

Prof. AJ Boydston


NIH Postdoctoral Fellow Caltech (2008-2010)
Advisor: Robert H. Grubbs

Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin (2007)
Advisors: Christopher W. Bielawski and C. Grant Willson

B.S. and M.S. University of Oregon (2001, 2002)
Advisor: Michael M. Haley

Dr. Boydston began studying chemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon under the guidance of Professor Michael M. Haley. His research focused on the synthesis and study of dehydrobenzoannulenes. After completing BS and MS degrees, he began doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2005, Dr. Boydston joined the group of Professor Christopher W. Bielawski and was co-advised by Professor C. Grant Willson. Dr. Boydston completed his thesis research focused on the synthesis and applications of annulated bis(imidazolium) chromophores in 2007. After graduating, he moved to Pasadena, California to take an NIH postdoctoral position at the California Institute of Technology. There, he worked under the mentorship of Professor Robert H. Grubbs to develop new catalysts and methods for the synthesis and characterization of functionalized cyclic polymers. He returned to the Pacific Northwest as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington in the summer of 2010. In summer 2018, he moved to the University of Wisconsin as the Yamamoto Family Professor of Chemistry. His research group currently focuses on developments in the areas of electro-organic synthesis, polymer synthesis, mechanochemical transduction, triggered depolymerization, polymers for therapeutic applications, and additive manufacturing (3D printing). His research and teaching efforts have been recognized through the NSF CAREER Award, Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, Cottrell Scholar Award, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dr. Chang-Uk Lee
Research Scientist

  • Ph.D., Louisiana State University, 2013
  • M.S., University of Tennessee, 2006
  • B.S., Pusan National University, 2004

Chang-Uk is originally from Pusan, South Korea where he graduated with honors with a B.S. degree in Polymer Science and Engineering. He then completed M.S. and Ph.D. degrees focusing on a combination of materials science and synthesis of advanced polymer structures. During his doctoral studies under the guidance of Prof. Donghui Zhang, he worked on synthesizing a new class of peptidomimetic materials (polypeptoids, structural mimics of polypeptides), cyclic block copolypeptoids, and studying their self-assembly in solution and macroscopic properties. He then took an appointment as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER). In April of 2014, Chang-Uk made the move to Seattle to join the Boydston group as a postdoctoral fellow and begin studying polymer mechanochemistry.

Cody Schilling
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Nebraska Wesleyan University, 2017

Cody is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska and received his BS in Chemistry from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2017. There he worked under the direction of Dr. Nathanael Fackler on the synthesis and characterization of Schiff base ligands and formazan dye ligands for use in spin-crossover complexes. Cody joined the Boydston group in November of 2018. Outside of work, he enjoys golfing, soccer, and tending to his variety of gardening projects.

Rachel Tritt
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Lafayette College, 2018

Rachel is originally from Kansas City, MO. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Lafayette College in Easton, PA in 2018 where she conducted research in the lab of Dr. Daniel Griffith. Her senior honors thesis focused on reactions of tropone iron tricarbonyl and its analogs to serve as synthetic precursors to polycyclic heterocycles. After graduating, she worked as a summer intern in the discovery chemistry division of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, IN. She joined the Boydston group in November, 2018. Outside of lab, she enjoys reading fiction and classic literature, knitting (poorly), and being outside regardless of the weather.

Sean Gitter
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Hope College, 2018

Sean is from Shelby Twp. MI. He received his BS in chemistry and chemical engineering from Hope College in 2018, where he studied under the guidance of Prof. Jason Gillmore. His undergraduate research was focused on the synthesis and characterization of BF2-coordinated azo dyes for incorporation in photomechanical polymers. He joined the Boydston group in November 2018. Outside of the lab Sean enjoys playing pub trivia, golfing, fishing, and hanging out with friends.

Vinnie Rigoglioso
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Cornell University, 2018

Vinnie hails from Wayne, New Jersey where the rest of his family (Vanessa, Domenic, Mom, Dad, and Wally) resides. In May 2018, he obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University. While at Cornell, his research involved the study and synthesis of oligothioetheramides under Professor Chris Alabi. Vinnie then started his life at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August 2018 and soon after joined the Boydston lab in November 2018. Vinnie’s research interests include physical organic chemistry, reaction kinetics, and polymers chemistry. Vinnie has a vast multitude of interests, among them chess, Frisbee, volleyball, and other board games and sports.

Kyle Chin
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Oregon State University, 2019

Kyle is from Portland, OR and received his B.S in chemical engineering from Oregon State University in 2019. He conducted undergraduate research with Dr. Gall at Portland State University determining primary emissions, ozone reactivity, and byproduct emissions from building insulation materials. He also completed a co-op at 3D Systems in their materials R&D group. He joined the Boydston group in November of 2019. Outside of work, he likes any sport or outdoor activity, playing board games, and hanging out with friends.

Olivia Bae
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Sogang University
  • M.S., Sogang University

Olivia received her B.S. in chemistry and M.S. in physical chemistry from Sogang University, Seoul, Korea. There, she worked with Prof. Bong June Sung on theoretical modeling of cancer cell cycle and molecular dynamic simulation of ring polymer films. She arrived in Madison this August and is enjoying life here. Outside the lab, she loves to read and write. She wants to be a writer someday.

Meg Tetzloff
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Michigan Technological University, 2019

Meg is originally from Greenville, Wisconsin. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2019. One of her undergraduate research projects with Professor Patricia Heiden involved using radical crosslinking to improve interfacial adhesion between waste polymers and asphalt for better asphalt durability. Meg joined the Boydston group in November 2019. When not in the lab, she can be spotted jamming on piano or ukulele, getting too excited about board games, or starting a snowball fight.

Julia Fraser
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018

Julia is from Bethesda, MD. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Georgia Tech in 2018, where she collected and characterized Icelandic tephra samples and studied microbes in extreme environments under Prof. Amanda Stockton. She then spent two years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quantifying fatty acids and trans fatty acids in human plasma samples and developing quantification methods for glucose and carbohydrates with Dr. Heather Kuiper. She joined the Boydston group in July 2021. Outside the lab, she plays sports and board games.

Brittany Trinh
Graduate Student

  • B.S., University of Houston, 2018

Brittany is from Houston, TX. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Houston in 2018. Her undergraduate research interests included polymer-based nanomaterials for wastewater treatment in Dr. Debora Rodrigues’s lab and metal ion uptake in the human gut microbiota in Dr. Melissa Zastrow’s lab. After graduating from UH, she worked for two and half years in R&D at Sekisui Specialty Chemicals improving and developing polyvinyl alcohol products. She joined the Boydston group in December 2021. Outside of the lab, she enjoys playing piano or violin in orchestra, designing websites for scientists, and eating noodles.

Anthony Sumlin
Graduate Student

  • B.S., Arkansas State University, 2020

Anthony is from Clarksdale, MS and received his BS in biology and BA in chemistry from Arkansas State University in 2020. His undergraduate research focused on the synthesis of hydrazone derivatives from pyrazole aldehyde. Upon graduation, Anthony spent one year at Zoetis Inc working as a lab technician in the Animal Genetics Division. He joined the Boydston Group in December 2021. Outside the lab, he enjoys spending time with loved ones.

Harshal Bakshi
Graduate Student

  • B. S., Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019
  • M. S., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2022

Harshal was born in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated in 2019 from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. While there, he worked with Dr. Ryan Lively to use MOFs as a biofuel separation strategy and with Dr. Matthew Realff to simulate CO2 sequestration processes. He then completed an M.S. degree under the guidance of Dr. Marcel Schreier at the UW-Madison. Throughout his M.S., he worked on the electrocatalytic transformations of short alkanes and polymers. He joined the Boydston Group in February of 2022. In his free time, Harshal enjoys reading fantasy novels, going on runs, and building keyboards.

Sarah Finnegan
Graduate Student

  • B.A. Skidmore College, 2022

Sarah is from Boston, MA. She was a Porter-Wachenheim Presidential Scholar at Skidmore College and earned her B.A. in Chemistry in 2022. Her undergraduate research, with Dr. Kimberley A. Frederick, focused on the development of paper-based microfluidic devices for detection of environmental contaminants. She also interned with American Boronite Corporation in Burlington, MA, where she developed purification and characterization methods for carbon nanotubes and boron nitride nanotubes. Sarah joined the Boydston lab in December 2022. Outside of the lab, she enjoys arts and crafts, baking, and taking ballet classes.

Chance Wilkinson-Johnson
Graduate Student

  • B.S., University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2020

Chance is from Waunakee, WI. He transferred from Madison College in 2018, then received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2020. He participated in Professor Ying Ge’s lab, assisting in the research of nanoproteomics and top-down mass spectrometry. After graduation, he briefly worked at Coating Place, Inc. in Verona, WI as an analytical development technician. While not doing chemistry, Chance likes to build models, play games of all types, kayak and swing dance.

Grant Ovsepyan
Undergraduate Student

  • B.S. (expected 2022), University of Wisconsin-Madison

As a freshman in his early career, Grant had joined AIChE and became a Department liaison representative. Currently is working on the mechanical maintenance and assembly of the filament extrusion printer. Outside of the lab Grant enjoys playing classical guitar, working with ceramics in studio. He is a soccer player, who has learnt how to surf and scuba dive before he has mastered his swimming freestyle stroke.

Jacob Darien
Undergraduate Student

  • B.S. (expected 2022), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Prior to joining the Boydston Lab, Jacob worked in two other chemistry research groups on campus. Currently, Jacob is working on the 3D printing of high-performance polymers. Outside of the lab, Jacob entertains himself by playing and writing music for electric and acoustic guitar and piano, in addition to playing various board and card games.

Sofya Akhetova
Undergraduate Student

  • B.S. (expected 2023), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sofya is only a starting Freshman in Undergrad for Chemical Engineering at UW Madison. She is also planning to get a certificate in Entrepreneurship and Japanese. Sofya moved to Utah from Russia in 2012, and now enjoys her time in Wisconsin. Sofya enjoys drawing and fencing in her spare time. Sofya hasn’t done anything impressive (editor’s note: the editor and the rest of the Boydston Group strongly disagrees with this) so she can’t put much, however, she had met a loving alpaca once who loves to cuddle.

Abdullah Alkarzai

  • B.S. (expected 2022), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abdullah is from Saudi Arabia and is double majoring in chemistry and chemical engineering here at UW. This is his first research experience outside of his CHEM 329 project, and his favorite chemistry topic is organometallics. During his free time, he loves skiing (although he’s only done it three times so far), and he enjoys watching American and English TV shows, movies, and anime.

Ruojia Li

  • B.S. (expected 2023), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ruojia is from Chongqing, China. She’s majoring in biochemistry and chemistry, with a certificate in computer science. She wants to see what she can learn from 3-D printing chemistry. After entering UW-Madison she has worked in one engineering lab. In her high school, she’s done research involving the pharmacokinetic analysis of controlled insulin drug delivery (PLGAs as matrices) system. While free, she entertains herself by playing the ukulele and piano and by singing (still looking for a rock band member if you would like). She’s trying to start up her youtube channel about make-up, which is always in progress. As for sports, swimming and badminton are on her after-class menu.

Jacob Dahl

  • B.S. (expected 2021), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jacob is a senior studying chemistry at UW Madison. He was born and raised in Wisconsin, so he is (somewhat) used to the cold. This is his first research experience.  During his free time, Jacob can be found playing board games, Dungeons & Dragons, or videogames. He also owns an adorable hedgehog named pepper.

Mark Zhang

  • B.S. (expected 2023), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mark is a sophomore in UW Madison majoring in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, with certificates in Biocore and Digital Cinema Production. He joined the Boydston research team in February 2020, studying polymer synthesis. He is passionate with chemistry and excited to participate in the research. Outside of the lab, he is obsessed with sports, especially soccer. Cinema is also one of his interests and he has been working on video production lately.

Yuanzuo Gao

Jerry Miao

Madelyn Leclair

Niko Zoller

Daria Rudykh

Group Mascot


Living in Yakima, Washington, Penny enjoys long walks on her farm, nuzzling the Lynde-Westling families (Andrea Westling pictured), and playing in the snow. When Penny was younger, she loved being in her pen and hated having to leave it, giving her the namesake. Always photogenic and sassy, Penny sends her positive energy to the Group in the form of wholesome pictures and videos.

Group Mascot

Not much is currently known about Milli. Also living in Yakima, Washington, Milli presumably trains everyday with the Lynde-Westling families (Andrea Westling pictured) to overtake her fierce competitor, Penny, as the Group’s cutest mascot.

Alumni (bios and subsequent destinations available at

  • Dr. Daniel Seidenkranz
  • Dr. Johanna Schwartz
  • Karen Wulf
  • Hyun-seok Chang
  • Danny Lee
  • Dr. Jianxun Cui
  • Dr. Hang Shen
  • Ernie Alvino
  • Dr. Brock Lynde
  • Dr. Xuejin Yang
  • Dr. Evan Sherbrook