Bender IV, John E.

John, the holder of a prestigious NSF graduate fellowship, joined the group in December of 1993. His research focus was the organometallic chemistry of germanium.

John graduated with his PhD in the summer of 1998 and is now an associate professor of chemistry at Grand Valley State University.

Mecke, Almut

Almut graduated with a Diplom degree in physics from the University Tuebingen in Germany in 1997. Although she initially intended to obtain a Ph.D. in theoretical high energy physics from the University of Michigan, she switched fields in the summer of 2000 and joined the Banaszak Holl / Orr research group. During her Ph.D. research she studied the properties of branched polymers, called dendrimers, using both experimental and computational methods. She investigated how dendrimers interact with surfaces, in particular lipid membranes which serve as a model for cell membranes. Using an atomic force microscope she was able to observe the interaction of dendrimers with such membranes. The results showed how various properties of dendrimer molecules influence their ability to enter cells through the cell membrane. This information can help to design “smart” molecules that can be used to fight disease, for example by transporting drugs into specific cells. Almut graduated in 2004, and in April of 2005 was awarded the annual Terwilliger Prize for the best Ph.D. thesis in the University of Michigan Department of Physics. After graduation Almut continued her work with the Banaszak Holl / Orr group as a postdoc for six months and then as a postdoc at the University of Basel in Switzerland.   She currently works for Roche Pharmaceuticals.

Ge, Song

Song Ge obtained his B.S. from Shandong University in China. His research work employs SQUID imaging of magnetic nanoparticles as part of a larger project developing nanotherapeutics for cancer therapy.

Meeuwenberg, Leah

Leah obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College.  She worked on the characterization of thin silicon oxide films.

Biscotto, Mark

Mark graduated from the University of Texas – Dallas in the spring of 1997. He studied the chemistry of Metal-Insulator-Metal devices, part of our project on the Chemistry of Computers.

Mark presented his research at the Chicago ACS meeting in August 2001

Chen, Yunqing

Yunqing Chen was a physics student in the Banaszak Holl and Orr research groups, where he calculated Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy images of oxides on silicon. Now Dr. Chen is working at NVidia company as a hardware engineer, where he’s an ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) design engineer. He’ll work on ASIC design of 2D/3D graphics accelerators, integrated chipsets, and media and communications processors.

Cygan, Zuzanna

Zuzanna Cygan graduated with a B. S. in chemistry from Louisiana State University in 1999.  She worked on the organometallic chemistry of palladium/germylene complexes and graduated with her PhD in 2003.  After a post-doc at NIST, she is now working at Arkema Group.

Fosnacht, Dan

College: Centre College, Danville, Kentucky; graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in June 2001

As an undergraduate, Dan did research in the summer of 2001 in polymer synthesis from natural materials under Dr. Pavel Krasutsky. He was a member of the IGERT program at Michigan. Through that program, he spent the summer of 2002 at the University of South Australia doing research in hydrosilylation chemistry.

Hessler, Jessica

Jessica was an undergraduate at Grand Valley State University and graduated with her PhD in Chemistry from Michigan in 2006. She recently published the first AFM images ever acquired of a cell undergoing programmed cell death (Langmuir 2005, 21, 9280-9286).  After graduation, she worked at the Van Andel Institute in the lab of Craig Webb.  She is now working in the field of intellectual property at McGarry Bair PC.

Hong, Seungpyo

Seungpyo graduated from Hanyang University, Korea with M.S. and B.S. degrees in polymer engineering. His research involved the synthesis of polyorganosilsesquioxanes for microelectronic applications at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.  In 2004, Seungpyo published a set of investigations indicating that nanoparticle can cause nanoscale holes in living cell membranes (Bioconjugate Chemistry 2004, 15, 774-782).  Based on these efforts and excellence in course work, Seungpyo won the University of Michigan Overberger Award in 2004 for excellence in polymer research.   His next paper on this topic (Bioconjugate Chemistry 2006, 17, 728-734) was selected as one of 25 “best Articles and Communications from the first 25 years of BC, highlighting the breadth of science and impact of the journal.”

Seungpyo then began a series of experiments designed to test the polyvalent effect in the specific targeting of cancer cells.  His poster on this work won the “Top Three Best Poster Award” at the fall 2005 MRS meeting.  Seungpyo graduated with his PhD in Macromolecular Science and Engineering in 2006 and went on to a post-doc in the Langer lab at MIT.  He is now an associate professor in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Illinois – Chicago.

Seungpyo won the 2012 New Investigator Grant Award in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technologies from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

Lee, Sunghee

Sunghee Lee joined the group in December of 1992 with extensive experience in physical chemistry acquired in graduate school at POSTECH. She pioneered the Silicon/Silicon Oxide interface project as the first graduate student in the group. She graduated with her Ph.D. in the fall of 1996 and won the Brown Chemistry department’s Potter prize for the best Ph.D. thesis. After graduating, Sunghee worked in various areas of chemistry and materials science including time at Duke University focusing on biomaterials engineering for an application of the active carrier delivery system. Sunghee is Professor of chemistry at Iona College.

Prof. Lee’s research program has an active research program in the study of microdroplets.  She won a 2013 Rising Star Award from the American Chemical Society’s Women Chemists Commitee.

Sunghee was featured in the September 17, 2012 issue of C&EN news article, Shaking up the Status Quo, for her efforts in education.

Photo Dawn Insanalli


She was featured in September 2014 in an article on the NSF website.


In 2014, Sunghee was named the Iona College Board of Trustees Endowed Professor in Science. This is the first fully endowed professorship at Iona College.  Check out the lastest from Sunghee’s research group.

In 2022, Sunghee has honored as a Council of Undergraduate Research Fellow.


Litz, Kyle E.

Dr Litz is an experienced R&D professional leading new product introduction for a fast-growing, Tech Valley startup. He brings over 9 years of commercial R&D experience to Applied NanoWorks – Now Auterra, Inc. Dr. Litz served as a sergeant in the US Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division before going to college. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas-Dallas and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan. He completed his post-doctoral fellowship at BF Goodrich before joining GE Global Research as Sr Staff Scientist and Project Leader, where he worked for 8 years. Dr. Litz is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Materials Research Society, and the Electrochemical Society. He holds 4 issued patents, has many pending applications, and over 35 publications in high profile, refereed journals and corporate technical reports. He has chaired regional and national conference symposia in chemistry and nanotechnology.  He was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2016.

Dr Litz’s Specialties:

Dr. Litz’s industrial research has covered such topics as Energy-efficient Materials, Atom-efficient Catalysis, High Energy and CVD materials, and Electro-Optical Material for efficient lighting.


Dr. Litz’s company was recognized as one of the 50 most promising green-tech companies in New York.


Leroueil, Pascale

Pascale graduated from Whitman College in 2003 and obtained her PhD in 2008. Her research focused on the interactions of polymeric nanoparticles with biological membranes. She is a staff scientist with the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences.

Pascale’s paper in Bioconjugate Chemistry 2006, 17,728-734 was selected as one of the top 25 “best Articles and Communications from the first 25 years of BC, highlighting the breadth of science and impact of the journal.”

Ludwig, Bonnie

After graduation Bonnie Ludwig first worked at Dow Corning Corporation in Midland, MI.    She is currently product development manager at Ellsworth Adhesive.


Nickelson, Melinda

Melinda is an applied physics student who joined the Orr group in the summer of 2001. She graduate with B.A. in Physics from Bryn Mayr in 1998. Her work is focused on the development of nanotherapeutics for cancer therapy. Her research if focused on Atomic Force Microscopy and Scanning Near Field Optical Microscopy experiments on dendrimeric drug transport agents, lipid bilayers, and cells.

Nicholson, Ken

Ken graduated from Xavier in the spring of 1997. He worked in the area of solid/solid interface structure and reactivity as it relates to the chemistry of computers.

Ken presented his work at the Chicago ACS meeting in August 2001 and then departed in November for  a post-doc in the Sibener Lab at the University of Chicago.  Ken worked at Cabot Microelectronics in Aurora, IL for 1 year and is now an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL.

Owens, Thomas

Tom graduated from the University of Illinois – Chicago in 1999.  As a graduate student at Michigan he discovered how to make self-assembled monolayers of alkylsilanes on gold.

Schneider, Kevin

Kevin’s research project entailed the characterization of surface/adsorbate systems using scanning probe microscopy, particularly scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). In particular, his project involved the characterization of model interfacial systems synthesized by the reaction of silanes and spherosiloxanes with crystalline Si and Au surfaces. Kevin presented his research at the 2002 Boston ACS meeting and won the Top Student Poster Award in physical chemistry.  Kevin published his first and last papers from the group in Physical Review Letters.

After graduation, Dr. Schneider was an NRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C. where he researched CVD synthesis of carbon nanotubes, Si nanowires and related nanoelectronic devices. After leaving the NRL, Kevin worked in the lead development 300mm wafer fab of Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon first as a thin films/dielectrics Process Engineer and then as a “front-end of the line” Process Integration Engineer. While at Intel, he helped develop and ramp to high volume logic processors at the 65nm and 45nm technology nodes. Kevin then worked as a Research Scientist in the Optoelectronics R&D group of Cree Inc. in Durham, North Carolina where he developed new LED products and including light bulbs you probably use in your house.  He was a technical manager for Semprius in Henderson, North Carolina working in the in the high concentration photovoltaic (CPV) solar industry.  He is currently Senior Process Engineer for Phononic.

Below are atomic resolution STM images obtained by Kevin.

Sweeder, Ryan

Ryan studied the reactions of germylenes with ketones and phenones and was a key leader in leader of studio chemistry at the University of Michigan.   He is currently an associate professor of chemistry at the Lyman Briggs College, a residential college at Michigan State University. His research focuses on the processes involved in the teaching and learning of general chemistry.

Ryan won the 2015 Distinguished Faculty of the Year award sponsored by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.




Matz, Becky

Becky graduated from the University of Illinois in 2007 with a B.S. in Chemistry. At U of I, she did research with Scott Silverman on catalytic DNA. At Michigan, Becky completed a Ph.D. in Chemistry in the Banaszak Holl lab where her research focused on understanding cellular responses to nonviral gene delivery agents and on the implications of concurrent versus nonconcurrent enrollment in general chemistry lecture and laboratory.  In addition to her PhD, she also completed a M.S. in Post-Secondary Science Education with the guidance of Joe Krajcik, Director of IRMSE at Michigan State University.

Her work on learning in general chemistry was highlighted in CBE-Life Sciences Education.

Becky  was a  post-doc at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan.  She is now assistant professor at Michigan State University.