top of page

Prof. C. Michael McGuirk

Prof. C. Michael McGuirk (PI)

Mike was born in Toronto, Canada. At the age of 10 his family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where he lived through high school. Mike then attended the University of Minnesota, where he majored in chemistry and minored in biochemistry, graduating summa cum laude with high honors. While at the "U", Mike spent time in the labs of Prof. Bill Tolman (chem) and Prof. Lincoln Potter (biochem). After graduating, Mike spent one year working as an intern at Ecolab Inc. in Eagan, MN. Mike then left Minnesota to pursue his Ph.D. in chemistry under Prof. Chad Mirkin at Northwestern University, where he focused on the design and synthesis of stimuli-responsive coordination complexes for regulated catalysis. After his time at NU, Mike joined Prof. Jeffrey Long’s group at UC-Berkeley as a Philomathia post-doctoral fellow. In the Long Group, Mike's work was focused on the design, discovery and characterization of non-classic gas adsorption in metal–organic frameworks. 

Follow Mike on Twitter:


Dr. Brian Eckstein (Research Assistant Professor)

Brian is a native of the Bay Area of California but has spent his formative years in the Midwest following his family’s move to Champaign, IL in 1998. After high school, Brian stuck around town and received a BA in economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). However, Brian’s father, a Physics professor at UIUC, always encouraged him to take courses in the physical sciences, and time spent in the lab of Prof. Jeffrey S. Moore ignited Brian’s passion for organic materials chemistry. After spending a year covering the requisite courses for postgraduate study, Brian went on to pursue a PhD in chemistry at Northwestern University. Under the guidance of Prof. Tobin J. Marks, Brian’s research focused on development of π-conjugated building blocks and investigation of structure-property relationships in polymeric semiconductors.



Dr. Arijit Halder (Post-Doc)

Arijit is from a small village near Kolkata, India. After completing high school, Arijit moved to Kolkata and received a B.Sc degree in Chemistry (honors) (2010) and then an M.Sc degree with Inorganic Chemistry specialization (2012) from Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, University of Calcutta, India. Afterward, he obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Jadavpur University, India under the supervision of Dr. Debajyoti Ghoshal. Arijit’s research was focused on the study of external-stimuli-responsive dynamic mixed ligand metal-organic frameworks and their utilization in the field of gas sorption/separation and luminescence behavior.


Scott Massimi (5th yr. Grad.)

Scott is from Phoenix, Arizona and received his B.S. in chemistry at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 2019. While at NAU he conducted research on super capacitors and polymer synthesis where he learned of his affinity for research. After graduation he decided to further his chemistry education by pursuing a Ph.D. at the Colorado School of Mines. His research interests involve designing unique heterogenous catalysts for applications that can help society. Scott is a joint group member with the Trewyn group also in the chemistry department.


Michael Moghadasnia (4th yr. Grad.)

Mike is native to Orange County, California. Growing up, he has always had an affinity to STEM related disciplines. After high school, Mike headed East to Flagstaff, Arizona where he attended Northern Arizona University and received and ACS accredited chemistry degree, emphasizing biochemistry. Loving the forest vibes, he stuck around in Flagstaff to get a Master’s in Chemistry, under the guidance of Dr. Stephanie Hurst, working on new ligand platforms for palladium and platinum coordination. Mike joins us at Mines to further his scientific curiosity, pursuing a degree in applied chemistry.



Scott Cleary (4th yr. Grad.)

Scott grew up in the South-Suburbs of Chicago. Raised on a steady diet of adventure and boy scouting, he developed an affinity for nature and a passion for conservation. While pursuing a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry from Illinois State University, Scott realized that sustainable applications in chemistry would allow him to integrate his greatest passion into his career. Scott’s undergraduate instrumental analysis research earned him an internship with the pharmaceutical giant, AbbVie Inc., followed by a role in Research and Development at INEOS Styrolution. Here, he honed his skills in analytical chemistry while investigating developments in chemical engineering and green chemistry. Scott comes to Mines pursuing a PhD in Applied Chemistry, emphasizing the skills needed to create a more sustainable future.



Hannah Martin (2nd yr. Grad.)

Hannah grew up in Redding, a town in rural Northern California. Staying in California, she attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where she earned her B.S. in Materials Engineering, graduating cum laude. During her time at Cal Poly, Hannah studied bacterial cellulose nanomaterials in the Hamachi lab, along with computational design of fluorescent DNA-based nanomaterials as part of an NSF funded REU in the Copp lab at UCI. These experiences helped Hannah realize her desire to perform research at the intersection of materials science and chemistry, utilizing a bottom-up approach to materials science. Now at Mines, Hannah hopes to pursue this desire and obtain her Ph.D. in Materials Science. 



Theresa Nosel (1st yr. Grad.)

Theresa is from Stafford, Connecticut and received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Connecticut in 2022. While at UConn she attended three internships with NASA developing space-grade 3D printed polymers and received two REU fellowships guiding her passion for materials science through the lens of chemistry. After graduation she decided to further her chemistry and materials science education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials Science here at Colorado School of Mines.



Gabriel Benitez (1st yr. Grad.)

Gabriel Benitez was born in the Woodland Hills suburb of Los Angeles and was raised in the rural western slope town of Montrose, Colorado. A first-generation Hispanic student, he embarked on his academic journey at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO, where he successfully earned his BS in Chemistry. As an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) summer student, he engaged in impactful research projects at both the University of Kansas and the University of North Carolina. These experiences introduced him to the fascinating realm of alternative energy research. Motivated by his newfound passion, Gabriel is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Colorado School of Mines, where his focus revolves around researching solutions to pressing energy problems. In 2024, Gabriel was awarded the NSF GRFP Fellowship.


Spencer Smith (1st yr. Grad.)

Spencer grew up in central Washington and later moved to Seattle to earn his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Washington. While at UW, he studied charge-assisted hydrogen-bonding frameworks in the Reed lab. Experiences from his time at UW helped him realize the importance of sustainability and combatting climate change. While pursuing his Ph.D. at Mines, Spencer aims to push the boundaries of porous framework materials to discover new methods enabling sustainable gas separations.


Gemma Ponce (Undergrad)

Gemma grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, beekeeping and taking advantage of all the STEM enrichment opportunities she could. Her hands-on experiences with STEM developed her passion for STEM and led her to Mines. She started attending Mines in the fall of 2022 where she found a particular fascination with chemistry and materials leading her to major in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering. When Gemma isn’t in class or the lab she’s part of the Mines Climbing Team and the Society of Women Engineers.



Runeem Al Abssi (Undergrad)

Runeem, a first-generation American, was born in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. At the age of 3, her family moved to Doha, Qatar, where she spent 13 years learning about her culture, family, and mother tongue. Her passion for math and science throughout her high school education paved the way to the Colorado School of Mines, which she began attending in the fall of 2021. At CSM, she is a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority and Biomechanics Club. She will pursue a degree in Quantitative Biosciences and Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering. After graduating, Runeem hopes to get a master's degree followed by a PhD, eventually focusing on prosthetics, gene editing, or teaching.



Madilyn "Gracie" Holm (Undergrad)

Gracie is originally from Elizabeth, CO, and is majoring in chemical and biological engineering. In addition to the lab, Gracie works as an assistant at the Mines Foundation, and volunteers with the Mines Activity Council and at outreach events focusing on advancing girls in STEM. Outside of Mines, she also volunteers with the Golden Farmer's Market and trash pickups around Golden. 



Former Members

Michael Melville (Undergrad)

Michael is a California native and a 2019 transfer student to Mines. Michael has an AA degree in interdisciplinary studies in Math and Science and also holds an AS degree in Chemistry from Sacramento City College.  Inspired by the rigor of his chemistry courses in community college, Michael has chosen the major of Biochemistry and wishes to focus his studies on organic synthesis. In choosing this focus, Michael seeks to understand the biological world at the molecular level. After finishing his undergraduate studies, Michael wishes to enter a graduate program in this field to further his understanding and start his career in research.



Rachel Lively (Undergrad)

Rachel was born and raised in Grand Junction, Colorado. Her passion for math and science throughout her primary education paved the way to Colorado School of Mines, which she began attending in the fall of 2018. At Mines, she is a member of Alpha Phi, the Peer Educator program, and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She will pursue a degree in chemistry or chemical engineering, with a minor in humanitarian engineering. After graduating, Rachel hopes to focus on renewable energy and sustainability.



Willow Knight (NSF REU Student)

Willow is a rising senior visiting Mines for the summer as a participant in the Materials REU. She was born in Austin, Texas, where she stayed until graduating high school and attending the University of North Texas. At her home university, she is working toward her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering. Her research at the University of North Texas is in collaboration with the Dallas Museum of Art, using materials characterization methods to better understand historical artifacts. This summer in the McGuirk Group, she will be studying how chalcogen bonding interacts with other noncovalent bonding types during crystallization. She was drawn to this group and topic because of her love for chemistry as well as her interest in materials innovation. She is excited to become a more versatile materials scientist after a summer of exploring materials chemistry and computation


Karina Samuel (Undergrad)

Karina was born in Marin county, California but grew up in San Antonio, TX. With always having an interest in science growing up,  Karina knew that going to Mines was the best place to explore exactly which STEM field was right for her. Karina has chosen to pursue a major in Biochemistry, minoring in biomedical engineering. Outside of the classroom, Karina is a resident advisor for first year students, works at the Mines Institution of Equity and Title IX office, and volunteers in hospice care. She loves advocacy work for inclusion and diversity in STEM fields and working with patients. After graduating, Karina plans to attend medical school and one day become a physician. 


Profile picture_edited.jpg

Tara Buzinski (Undergrad)

Tara grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She traded saguaros for snow when she moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in chemical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Outside of classes, she is an art editor of the High Grade art magazine on campus and volunteers at the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in the biological sciences, specifically in the pharmaceutical or biomaterial fields.



Caleb Curran-Velasco (Undergrad)

Caleb was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the age of 9 his family moved to Quito, Ecuador where he spent 3 years learning about his culture and family while honing the language. Throughout high school Caleb developed a love for math and knew that in college he would be pursuing a degree in STEM. This led him to Mines where he began attending in the fall of 2020. At Mines, he is a member of the Grewcock Presidential Scholars and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. He is pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Biomedical Engineering. After graduating he hopes to focus on a career where he can use his Computer Science skills to make an impact in the Biomedical field. 


bottom of page