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.


Summer Work-study student – Cristian Kwasnek

How I got here: Kalamalka Secondary School, Coldstream, BC 
Starting point (hometown): Calgary, AB

Degree Information: Undergraduate B.Sc. Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UBC Okanagan

Cristian will be entering his fourth year of his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the UBC-O campus. Cristian plans to integrate carbon nitride (CNx, a photocatalyst) with organic synthesis via the use of a photoreactor. Furthermore, Cristian would like to explore applications that CNx has for possible drug or medical applications. Cristian cheers for the Calgary Flames, much to Robert’s dismay.


Summer volunteer – Natalie Stapleton

How I got here: MSci @ University College London
Starting point (hometown): Lewes, UK


Degree Information: Masters in Chemistry with a specialism in inorganic materials for renewable energy applications

Natalie has joined us from her season as a ski instructor at Big White post graduation from UCL last June. She will be here for a month whilst she explores the beautiful Okanagan countryside. During that time she will focus on initiating standard procedures for evaluating the photocatalytic activity of carbon nitrides.


CHEM448 student – 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.



Summer RISE/NSERC student – Ahmed Ibrahim

How I got here: Rick Hansen Secondary School, Mississauga, ONAhmed Ibrahim profile picture
Starting point (hometown): Mississauga, Ontario

Degree Information: Undergraduate B.Sc. student, Honours Chemical Biology Co-op, McMaster University

Ahmed is going into his third year at McMaster University in the Honours Chemical Biology Co-op program. He has a keen interest in all fields involving the synthesis of novel organic compounds. He will be working on creating a library of substituted graphitic carbon nitride variants to study the effect of different functional groups on its photocatalytic activity. Ahmed also endeavors to create an efficient workflow for this process to allow for ease of reproducibility and expansion of the library for further comparisons. In his free time, Ahmed enjoys playing a wide variety of genres on his guitar, cooking, and searching his locale for the best shot of espresso.


Summer volunteer – Kenny Batke

How I got here: Clarence Fulton Secondary School, Vernon, BC
Starting point (hometown): Vernon, BC

Degree Information: Undergraduate B.Sc. Student, Honours Chemistry, Trinity Western University

Kenny is entering his fourth year at Trinity Western University and pursuing an Honours Degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Mathematics. His academic interests vary across all fields of chemistry, being connected by the fundamental needs for both critical and creative thinking, as well as the opportunity for applying solutions to real world problems. He will be exploring charge transfer characteristics of carbon quantum dots to identify patterns between molecular structure and charge transfer efficiency; this will develop a better understanding of charge transfer in organic nanostructures, that can also be applied to carbon nitrides. Beyond the lab, Kenny spends his time engaged in recreational sports, mountain biking, and hockey.


And more to come!

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