Former Group Members

Recent Group Alumni

Brent K. Amberger

Credentials: Ph.D.

Brent Amberger received his B.A. in chemistry from Amherst College in 2008.  At Amherst, Brent spent time working with Professor David Hansen synthesizing molecularly imprinted polymers.  Later, he did his undergraduate thesis research with Professors Helen Leung and Mark Marshall, using microwave spectroscopy in the structural determination of small gas phase Van der Waals complexes.  At Wisconsin, Brent worked with Professor McMahon in the collaborative rotational spectroscopy sub-group with Brian Esselman and Professor R. Claude Woods.  He used a glow-discharge, millimeter-wave spectrometer to observe rotational transitions for small organic molecules.  Once rotational spectra for these compounds are known, they can be searched for in space using radio telescopes.  Brent owns many things, including a canoe, a cat, and a clownfish.

Brent graduated with a PhD in 2015 and is currently a Senior Researcher at Allergy Amulet in Lowell, MA.

Brandon Dobraska

Credentials: B.S.

Email: dobraska@wisc.edu

Brandon is a Senior at UW Madison pursuing a B.S. in chemistry and is currently working under the guidance of Andrew Owen on computational chemistry. In his time that strays from the academic in nature, Brandon loves fishing and routinely explores new bodies of water. He also enjoys cruising country backroads on his new motorcycle.

Brandon received his Bachelor’s degree in 2017.

Ben C. Haenni

Credentials: Ph.D.

Ben received a B.S in Chemistry and BCMB (Biochemical,Cell, and Molecular Biology) from Drake University in 2010.  While there he worked with Dr. Gholam Mirafzal on the green applications of ionic liquids for organic synthesis.  In the McMahon Group, Ben applied computational chemistry to wide range of topics and molecules, from tunneling in carbenes to excited state calculations.  Ben eats a small variety of food.

Ben received his PhD in 2016 and now instructs at UW – La Crosse.

Zachary Heim

Credentials: B.S.

Email: zheim@wisc.edu

Zach is a senior chemistry major. He joined after a short project with the group as a part of the 115/116 program. He is currently working on rotational spectroscopy of pyrimidine. When not sciencing, Zach enjoys spending his time playing hockey, fishing, and travelling.

Zach received his Bachelor’s degree in 2017.

Phoenix Higgins

Credentials: B.S.

Email: phiggins4@wisc.edu

Phoenix is a junior studying chemistry at UW-Madison with plans to get a PhD in Organic Chemistry after he graduates. He is currently studying the rotational spectrum of chloropyrazine and its isotopologues under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Esselman. When not doing research, Phoenix enjoys reading, playing board games with his girlfriend, and watching tv.

Grace Hyland

Credentials: B.S.

Email: ghyland@wisc.edu

Grace is a senior at UW Madison studying Chemistry and Spanish.  She is currently assisting Sam Kougias in the synthesis of astrochemically relevant nitriles.  When not science-ing, Grace enjoys yoga, baking, and chemistry puns.

Grace received her Bachelor’s degree in 2018.

Stephanie N. Knezz

Credentials: Ph.D.

Email: stephanie.knezz@northwestern.edu

Stephanie received a B.S. in chemistry from Butler University in 2011.  During her time there, she worked on a variety of projects with Dr. John Esteb, including a chemical education project developing experiments for the organic teaching labs and synthesis of novel β-lactams in conjunction with a small group from Eli Lilly.  In the McMahon Group, Stephanie applied matrix isolation in conjugation with various spectroscopic techniques to study reactive organic molecules. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys seeing live music, singing, and camping.

Stephanie received her PhD in 2016, and now works at Northwestern University.

Danny Lee

Credentials: B.S.

Email: djlee6@wisc.edu

Danny is currently a senior pursuing a Chemistry major and is interested in sustainable energy and environmental chemistry. He is working with Sam Kougias synthesizing, isolating, and characterizing a series of novel compounds of astrochemical interest. Some of Danny’s favorite pastimes include photography, golfing, and watching the Chicago Cubs.

Cara Schwarz

Credentials: M.S.

Email: ceschwarz@wisc.edu

Cara graduated from UW Madison with a B.S. degree in chemistry. She is currently working on rotational spectroscopy of phenyl isocyanate. Aside from chemistry, she enjoys skiing, Rubik’s cubes, and spending time outside.

Cara received her Master’s degree in 2017.

Cara is now a member of the Stowe Research Group at UW-Madison.

Ph.D. Graduates

Dr. Steven W. Albrecht
Business Development Manager
AVEKA, Inc.
Email:
Ph.D. 1995 (RJM #4)

Dr. Eric S. Ball
Department of Chemistry
Metropolitan State College
Email: eball2@mscd.edu
Ph.D. 2000 (RJM #12)

Professor Nicola J. Burrmann
Heartland Community College
Email: nicola.bantz@heartland.edu
Ph.D. 2010 (RJM #22)

Dr. Terence M. Barnhart
Senior Director of Straegy and Continuous Improvement
Pfizer
Email:
Ph.D. 1993 (RJM #2)

Professor Paul A. Bonvallet
Department of Chemistry
College of Wooster
Email: PBonvallet@wooster.edu
Ph.D. 2001 (RJM #13)

Professor Nathan P. Bowling
Department of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Email: Nate.Bowling@uwsp.edu
Ph.D. 2005 (RJM #16)

Dr. Eric M. Breitung
General Electric Company
Email: breitung@crd.ge.com
Ph.D. 1999 (RJM #10)

Dr. Jeffrey T. DePinto
Air Products and Chemicals
Email: depintjt@apci.com
Ph.D. 1993 (RJM #3)

Professor Wendy A. deProphetis
Department of Chemistry and Physics
Wagner College
Email: wdeproph@wagner.edu
Ph.D. 2004 (RJM #15)

Dr. Brian J. Esselman
Department of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin
Email:  esselman@wisc.edu
Ph. D. 2012 (RJM #27)

Dr. Robert J. Halter
Myriad Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Email: rhalter@myriad.com
Ph.D. 2002 (RJM #14)

Dr. Jonathan A. Hodges
Affinergy, Inc.
Email: jahodges@nc.rr.com
Ph.D. 2000 (RJM #11)

Professor Carl R. Kemnitz
Department of Chemistry
California State University Bakersfield
Email: carl_kemnitz@firstclass1.csubak.edu
Ph.D. 1995 (RJM #7)

Dr. Yong Seol Kim
Bergische Universität Wuppertal
Email: yokim@uni-wuppertal.de
Ph.D. 2005 (RJM #17)

Dr. Laura A. Kopff
Ph.D. 2012 (RJM #26)

Dr. Kevin L. Kott
The Procter and Gamble Company
Email: kott.kl@pg.com
Ph.D. 1993 (RJM #1)

Dr. Susan P. Lucas
Email: susanplucas@gmail.com
Ph.D. 2006 (RJM #18)

Professor Jessica L. Menke
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Email: menkej@uww.edu
Ph.D. 2010 (RJM #23)

Professor Eric V. Patterson
Truman State University
Email: menkej@uww.edu
Ph.D. 2010 (RJM #8)

Professor Caroline R. Pharr
Mercyhurst College
cpharr@mercyhurst.edu
Ph.D. 2008 (RJM #20)

Dr. Randal A. Seburg
Merck Research Laboratories
Email: randal_seburg@merck.com
Ph.D. 1995 (RJM #6)

Dr. Christopher J. Shaffer                         Institute of Organic Chemistry
and Biochemistry AS CR, v.v.i.
Email: shaffer@uochb.cas.cz
Ph.D. 2010 (RJM #24)

Professor Louise L. Stracener
Department of Natural Science
Edgewood College
Email: lstracener@edgewood.edu
Ph.D. 1998 (RJM #9)

Dr. Phillip S. Thomas
Ohio State University (Post-Doc)
Email: pthomas@chemistry.ohio-state.edu
Ph.D. 2007 (RJM #19)

Professor Craig M. Whitaker
Department of Chemistry
U.S. Naval Academy
Email: whitaker@brass.mathsci.usna.edu
Ph.D. 1995 (RJM #5)

Dr. Katherine (Traynor) Windsor
Department of Chemistry
Vanderbilt University
Email: katherine.windsor@vanderbilt.edu
Ph.D. 2010 (RJM #21)

M.S. Graduates

Brian Barnes
M.S. 1998

Susie Belal
M.S. 1998

Sean Birke
Jefferson College
Email: sbirke@jeffco.edu
M.S. 1990

Beatriz DeGuia
M.S. 2004

Prof. Nancy Carter Dopke
Mercer University
Email: dopke_nc@mercer.edu
M.S. 1996

Thomas Draxler
Email: twd007@gmail.com
M.S. 2011

Ryan Fimmen
Ohio State University
Email: fimmen.2@osu.edu
M.S. 1998

Terese A. (Kreifels) Waltz
M.S. 2012

Alex Nolan
Email: nolana77@gmail.com
M.S. 2011

Kathleen Pollock
Cedarburg High School
Email: kpollock@cedarburg.k12.wi.us
M.S. 1995

Zoe M. Samer
M.S. 2013

Cara E. Schwarz

Nicholas A. Walters
M.S. 2016

Jim Zdrodowski
M.S. 1994

Undergraduates

Kris Andersen
1990

Scott Aulinskis
1995-96

Caroline Breitkreuz
2005

Mathew J. Biller
University of Wisconsin
biller@wisc.edu
2008-2009

Kevin Carlisle
1993

Ed Choi
Guilford Pharmaceuticals
Email: ctchoi@home.com
1991-92

Dr. Andrew P. Combs
Bristol Myers Squibb
Email: Andrew.Combs@bms.com
1988-89

Mitch A. Daane
University of Wisconsin – Madison Athletic Department
Email:
2008-2009

Brandon Dobraska
201?

Kyle A. Hecker
Eli Lilly and Company
1996-97

Phoenix M. Higgins
2018-2019

Grace E. Hyland
2017-2019

Jayson Kempinger
University of Nebraska
Email: jkemping@bigred.unl.edu
2005-2006

Aaron Kunzer
Abbott Laboratories
1995-96

John Lansdown
1991

Mike Larson
1989

Danny J. Lee
2017-2019

Ibrain Marcano
2002

Aatmik R. Patel
2019

Ryan Powers
1989

Craig C. Price
University of Wisconsin
Email: ccprice@wisc.edu
2009

Jeff Rauh
1988-90

Rodrigo A. Sanchez
2018

Paul Severin
1992-94

Jeffery M. Slosarczyk
2008-2009

Tom Spaulding
1990

Colleen C. Sylvester
2009-2010

Eric M. Todd
Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
Email: erictodd@scs.uiuc.edu
1999-2002

Dr. Tammy C. Turek-Etienne
Invitrogen Drug Discovery Solutions
Madison, WI 53719
Email: tammy.turek-etienne@invitrogen.com
1993-94