Photo of McMahon | Woods Group Members

Group Members

Faculty and Staff

Robert McMahon

Credentials: Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles 1985

Position title: Professor

Email: robert.mcmahon@wisc.edu

Address:
Department of Chemistry, Room 6209A
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1101 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706

ORCID-iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-1377-5107

Robert J. McMahon was born in Mendota, Illinois in 1958. He received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1980. He performed undergraduate research with Professor Stanley G. Smith into the mechanism and stereoselectivity of lithium aluminum hydride reduction of ketones. McMahon received a Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1985, working with Professor Orville L. Chapman on the mechanisms of carbene rearrangements. From 1985-1988, McMahon investigated excited-state electron transfer as a postdoctoral research associate with Professor Mark S. Wrighton at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McMahon accepted a position on the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988 and was promoted to full professor in 1997. He was named an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry in 2000 and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003.

R. Claude Woods

Credentials: Ph.D. Harvard University 1965

Position title: Professor

Email: rcwoods@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-2892

https://www2.chem.wisc.edu/users/woods

Claude Woods was born March 24, 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1961. He obtained an AM degree (1962) and then a PhD degree (1965) in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University. He served for two years on active duty as a Lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve (1965-1967), during which time he was an officer instructor in Chemistry at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Chemistry for fifty three years: Assistant Professor (1967-1973), Associate Professor (1973-1977), and Professor (1977-2020), retiring in August, 2020. His major research areas are high resolution spectroscopy, quantum chemistry, astrochemistry, and plasma processing and diagnostics. In 1984 he shared the Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry, awarded by the ACS for the outstanding PhD thesis in Chemistry in the United States, with his graduate student Christopher Gudeman. In 1997 he received the Pharmacia-Upjohn Excellence in Teaching Award from the Department of Chemistry, and in 2013 he received the Undergraduate Mentoring Award in Physical Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brian Esselman

Credentials: Ph.D. University of Wisconsin–Madison 2012

Position title: Organic Chemistry Lecturer and Assistant Laboratory Director

Email: brian.esselman@wisc.edu

ORCID-iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9385-8078

https://www2.chem.wisc.edu/users/besselman

Brian first came to the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the fall of 1995 as a college freshman and received his B.S. in Chemistry and Chemistry-Secondary Education in December of 2000.  In May 2004, he received an M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin.  He completed his UW–Madison education with a Chemistry Ph.D. in 2012 on the Computational and Spectroscopic Investigation of Species of Astrochemical Relevance.  During his last two years of graduate school he played an important role in the updating and upgrading of the mm-wave spectrometer used by the group and led the analysis of the pyridazine rotational spectrum.

While in graduate school, Brian collaborated with Nick Hill in the undergraduate organic laboratory to implement computational chemistry as an integral part of the undergraduate curriculum.  This naturally led to Brian’s current position as an organic chemistry instructor and laboratory director at UW–Madison.  His research interests have expanded to include chemical education and curriculum development.  In 2017, he was awarded the Harvey Spangler Award for Technology Enhanced Instruction by the College of Engineering, The Early Career Award by the College of Letters & Science, and the Taylor Teaching Award by the Department of Chemistry.  Since graduating, he has continued to collaborate with Bob and Claude, mentor graduate and undergraduate students in research, and investigate the spectroscopy of several molecules.  He was given the GSFLC mentor award in 2019 for his work with graduate students in the group and teaching assistants in the organic laboratory.

Graduate Students

Madeleine Atwood

Credentials: Ph.D. student

Position title: Joined 2022

Email: mgatwood@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 262-0599

Address:
Chemistry Building, Room 6207

ORCID-iD icon https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5319-8845

Madeleine received a B.S. in Chemistry from Bucknell University in 2021. During her time there, she studied under Dr. Robert Stockland synthesizing and characterizing gold (I) catalysts. Since joining the McMahon group, she has focused on synthesis of astrochemically relevant molecules, including highly unsaturated oxygen-containing molecules. Outside of research, Madeleine enjoys art, literary criticism, and playing a variety of video games.

Recent publication:

Masonheimer, C. L.; Atwood, M. G.; Hartzell, S. E.; Reph, E. A.; Pike, R. D.; Stockland, R. A., Jr. Syn-Insertion of Alkynes into Gold–Phosphito Bonds: Stereoselectivity and Reversible Protodeauration. Organometallics 2021, 40 (15), 2546-2556. View Article

Matisha Dorman

Credentials: Ph.D. Candidate

Position title: Joined 2016

Email: dorman3@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 262-0599

Address:
Chemistry Building, Room 6207

ORCID-iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-3802-6719

Matisha received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of West Florida in 2016. During her undergraduate career, she worked in Dr. Karen Molek’s research lab. There, she studied the chemical kinetics of asphaltene adsorption onto nanoparticles using a home build MALDI mass spectrometer. She spent the summer of 2015 in Madison with the McMahon group and came back for graduate school to call the group home. Currently, she is working to optimize and prepare the group’s rotational spectrometer for ion spectroscopy work which will pave the way for more projects in the future. When not enjoying the sciences, Matisha spends time with her husband and two dogs, exploring Madison and keeping them out of trouble.

Recent Publication:

Dorman, P. M.; Esselman, B. J.; Changala, P. B.; Kougias, S. M.; McCarthy, M. C.; Woods, R. C.; McMahon, R. J.  Rotational Spectrum of anti– and gauche-4-Cyano-1-Butyne (C5H5N) – an Open-Chain Isomer of Pyridine. J. Mol. Spectrosc. 2022, 385, 111604.  View Article

Houston Smith

Credentials: Ph.D. Student

Position title: Joined 2018

Email: hhsmith2@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 262-0599

Address:
Chemistry Building, Room 6212

ORCID-iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3762-1842

Houston received a B.S. in Chemistry from Emory University in 2018. During his time there, he worked with Dr. Widicus Weaver to experimentally create and study interstellar ice analogues. Since joining the McMahon group, he has been working in the rotational spectroscopy sub-group. Currently, he is working on the semi-experimental equilibrium structure determination of methacrylonitrile. This structure determination involves the analysis of 20+ isotopologues accounting for internal rotation within each and applying computational corrections to determine highly precise semi-experimental structural parameters for the molecule. Another current project is a least-squares fit of a Coriolis-coupled dyad of the two lowest-energy vibrationally excited states of 2-cyanopyrimidine. This least-squares fit requires a two-state Hamiltonian to adequately model the experimental spectrum. When not doing research, Houston enjoys playing video games, spending time with family, and traveling.

Recent publication:

Smith, H. H.; Kougias, S. M.; Esselman, B. J.; Woods, R. C.; McMahon, R. J.  Synthesis Purification, and Rotational Spectroscopy of 1-Cyanocyclobutene (C5H5N).  J. Phys. Chem. A 2022, 126, (12), 1980-1993.  View Article

Samuel Wood

Credentials: Ph.D. Candidate

Position title: Joined 2017

Email: sawood5@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 262-0599

Address:
Chemistry Building, Room 6207

ORCID-iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-8204-2770

Samuel Wood received his B.S. from Iowa State University in 2016. While at ISU, Sam studied self-assembling organic radicals under the advisement of professor Arthur H. Winter. Since joining the group, Sam’s research has focused on heavy atom tunneling and synthesis of astrochemically relevant compounds. Outside of the lab, Sam enjoys yoga, camping, and cooking.

Recent Publication:

Nunes, C. M., Viegas, L. P., Wood, S. A., Roque, J. P. L., McMahon, R. J., Fausto, R. Heavy-Atom Tunneling Through Crossing Potential Energy Surfaces: Cyclization of a Triplet 2-Formylarylnitrene to a Singlet 2,1-Benzisoxazole. 2020, Ang. Chem. Int. Ed. 59, 17622-17627.  View Article

Undergraduate Students

Natalie Schuler

Credentials: Undergraduate Researcher

Email: naschuler@wisc.edu

Phone: (608)-262-0599

Address:
Chemistry Building, Room 6212

Natalie is a third-year undergraduate student studying chemical engineering and chemistry, and is from Boulder, CO. Her research focuses on determining highly accurate and precise semi-experimental equilibrium structural of chlorobenzene using rotational spectroscopy. Outside of chemistry, Natalie enjoys hiking, exploring Madison, and taking care of her house plants.