Group leader – Robert Godin

How I got here: B.Sc. @ University of Ottawa, Ph.D. @ McGill University, Postdoc @ Imperial College London
Starting point (hometown): Bathurst, NB

Robert joined The University of British Columbia in July 2018, after spending nearly three years in London, UK. His interests have always been rooted in photochemistry, and now he leads the Solar Energy Conversion and Spectroscopy group. Combining his love of instrumentation and careful analyses, the group is looking to develop advanced spectroscopy and microscopy techniques to gain a deeper understanding of the spatial and energetic heterogeneities in charge carrier dynamics of low cost, carbon-based photocatalysts. This knowledge allows us to understand the limitations of photocatalytic systems and establish design and preparation guidelines for the next generation of high efficiency materials. When outside of the lab, Robert enjoys taking advantage of the great outdoors, exploring the Okanagan’s wine and craft beer industries, and quietly (for now) rooting for the Montreal Canadiens.


MSc student – Emma Mitchell

How I got here: B.Sc. from Queen’s University
Emma Mitchell profile pictureStarting point (hometown): Burlington, ON

Degree Information: M.Sc. student at UBC Okanagan

Emma has graduated from Queen’s University and now entered into the first year of her master’s degree here at UBC Okanagan. Currently her research is focusing on investigating how morphological changes of carbon nitride affect its photocatalytic activity. She is building off the work of Grady Hewlett who was a summer student in the SolarSpec Lab. She is super excited about being apart of the SolarSpec group and is looking forward to learning all about the prophotophysical and photochemical processes in solar fuel producing systems. Outside the lab she is exploring her new home, enjoying the amazing outdoor activities Kelowna has to offer. Some of her favorites include hiking, running as well as supporting the Okanagan’s wine and craft beer industries.


Visiting scholar – Rachael Curry

How I got here: MSci @ University of York, UK
Rachael Curry profile pictureStarting point (hometown): Taunton, Somerset, UK

Degree Information: 4th year exchange student, chemistry master’s project placement, UBC Okanagan

Rachael is completing her final year of an integrated master’s degree in natural sciences, specialising in chemistry. For the duration of her time here she will be working on a master’s project and thesis, a literature review and a distance learning module. With a background in physics and mathematics and as an environmentalist, Rachael has a keen interest in sustainable energy production which aligns with Robert’s research interests in solar energy conversion. Her project will focus on achieving the binding of carbon nitrides to amino-silanised glass, this will immobilise the carbon nitride allowing for applications in spectroscopy, electrochemistry and water purification. Outside of studying, Rachael enjoys adventuring the outdoors of BC by any means available, recreational team sports and exploring Kelowna’s city culture.


Visiting scholar – Muhammad Ismail

How I got here: MSc @ Kohat University, M.Phil @ Kohat University Pakistan
Muhammad Ismail profile picStarting point (hometown): Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Degree Information: IRSIP Scholar, Chemistry PhD project placement, UBC Okanagan

Muhammad Ismail is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Chemistry, Kohat University of Science and Technology Kohat, Pakistan. He has graduated from the MSc program in 2012 with a distinction from the same institution. With a background in chemistry, biochemistry and as an environmentalist, Muhammad research interests include green chemistry, biological activities and degradation of industrial effluent. Currently his research is focusing on green and sustainable single and double source precursor syntheses of carbon dots (CDs) and investigating how surface and morphological changes of CDs affect the charge transfer carrier quenching of different charge donor and acceptor molecules. Muhammad is excited to be a part of the SolarSpec group and he is looking forward to learning all about the spectroscopic techniques used in the solar fuel producing systems. Outside of studying, Muhammad plays games like cricket and volleyball in his free time. Muhammad enjoys adventuring the outdoors of Kelowna and the city culture.


Volunteer – Grady Hewlett

How I got here: AS @ Whatcom Community College (WCC)
Starting point (hometown): Bellingham, Washington

Degree Information: Undergraduate B.Sc. Student, Chemistry, UBC Okanagan

Grady will be completing his final coursework as a 6 credit Directed Studies under supervision of Dr. Godin. His research interests have been focused on different aspects of green chemistry, incorporating work with biofuel coproducts at WCC, and more recently with organometallic photochemistry at UBCO in the Smith lab. Furthering his inquiry into green chemistry, he will be studying the effects of nanoscopic structure of carbon nitrides (CxNyHz) on their properties as photocatalysts for the splitting of water. The target reaction allows the capture of solar energy and simultaneous storage in high energy bonds in the form of hydrogen fuel. The effect of morphology on photophysical properties is poorly understood, so the work Grady conducts could allow deeper understanding on ways to improve efficiency of the promising organic photocatalyst, CxNyHz. In his free time, Grady can be found on his mountain bike, climbing, or making music with his non-laboratory instruments.


Work-study student – Quinn Krahn

How I got here: Okanagan College, Kelowna BC
Quinn Krahn profile pictureStarting Point: Mesa, Arizona

Degree Information: Undergraduate B.Sc. Student, General Major, UBC Okanagan

Quinn is in his fourth year at UBCO, his passion for an array of sciences has led him to declare a general major in pursuit of a robust education. Quinn is working to demonstrate the photocatalytic abilities of Carbon Nitrides (CNx) in comparison to other well established photocatalyst using a photoreactor. Quinn is passionate about learning and gaining new experiences to broaden his understanding of the world.


And more to come!

We’re always looking for motivated students to join! Check out the Opportunities page for more info.


Group alumni

Name Current occupation
Natalie Stapleton Graduate student in the UK
Ahmed Ibrahim Undergraduate student at McMaster University
Kenny Batke Undergraduate student at Trinity Western University
Cristian Kwasnek Undergraduate student at UBC Okanagan