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Alex Laughlin

Mentor: Kyle Lancaster


University of California, Los Angeles – Masters of Science, Inorganic Chemistry (2018)
University of California, Los Angeles – Bachelor of Science, Chemistry-Material Science Organic Concentration (2017)

Awards and Honors

  • Santa Monica College Dean’s Honors List (2013)
  • The United States President’s Volunteer Service Award (2013)
  • Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Research Fellowship (2016)
  • UCLA Dean’s Honor List (2016)
  • UCLA Departmental Scholar (2017)
  • The Cornell University Graduate Fellowship (2019)

Research Experience:

  • Synthesis of yttrium-alkyl complexes supported by a ferrocene-based phosphinimine ligand
  • Synthesis of a ferrocene-supported complex to be used for single molecular magnets (published work)
  • Study of substituent effects on redox switchable yttrium and indium catalysts

Current Research Activities:

Nitrification, the biological oxidation of ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (NO2–) and nitrate (NO3–), is the primary metabolism by which ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea generate reducing equivalents to sustain life. Nitrifiers pervade nearly every ecosystem, and their metabolism results in various environmental and health problems: eutrophication, nitrous oxide emissions, and leakage of potentially toxic compounds into groundwater. Nevertheless, the biochemical mechanisms underlying their metabolism are largely undefined––many key enzymes remain uncharacterized or even unknown. Moreover, some of the chemical transformations catalyzed by these enzymes are not available to synthetic chemists. By utilizing a myriad of molecular biology techniques, I hope to identify and isolate these crucial enzymes and apply a suite of in-house spectroscopic techniques (electron paramagnetic resonance, resonance Raman, UV-vis, and X-ray absorption spectroscopies) to elucidate the mechanisms by which nature performs this fundamentally interesting and globally-relevant chemistry.





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