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Group Members

Prof. Jing Yang


Brief Bio:

Jing earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry at Beijing Normal University (China) in 1997 and 2000, and her Ph.D. degree in chemistry at the University of New Mexico in 2006. She joined the Kirk lab in 2007 as a Postdoc Fellow and was promoted to Research Assistant Professor in 2008 and Research Associate Professor in 2016.

Jing’s research interests mainly include studying the molybdenum-containing enzymes and related model complexes which focus is to understand electronic structure contributions to the oxidative and reductive half-reactions of a varieties of pyranopterin molybdenum enzymes, and the time-resolved spectroscopic studies of intramolecular charge separation systems which is targeted toward developing a detailed understanding of key factors that affect photo-processes related to photomagnetism, solar energy conversion, and the factors that influence intersystem crossing. Her expertise are computational chemistry modeling and spectroscopic methods including electronic absorption, resonance Raman, fluorescence and phosphorescence, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), magnetic circular dichroism (MCD), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), and laser flash photolysis.

Representative Publications:

  1. Yang, J.; Enemark, J. H.; Kirk, M.L. Metal-Dithiolene Bonding Contributions to Pyranopterin Molybdenum Enzyme Reactivity. 2020, 8, 3. DOI: 10.3390/inorganics8030019

  2. Shultz, D. A.; Kirk, M.L.; Zhang, J.; Stasiw, D. E.; Wang, G.; Yang, J.; Habel-Rodriguez, D.; Stein, B. W.; Sommer, R.D. Spectroscopic Signatures of Resonance Inhibition Reveal Differences in Donor-Bridge and Bridge-Acceptor Couplings. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 4916-4924.

  3. Ingersol, L. J.; Yang, J.; KC, K.; Pokhrel, A.; Astashkin, A. V.; Weiner, J.; Johnston, C. A,; Kirk, M.L. Addressing Ligand-Based Redox in Molybdenum-Dependent Methionine Sulfoxide Reductase. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 2721-2725.

Ranjana Dangi


Brief Bio:

Ranjana completed her Master’s Degree in 2009 at the Tribhuvan University in Nepal, with specializations in Inorganic chemistry. Shortly after, she taught general chemistry for undergraduate students for 3 years in Nepal. She then decided to pursue her PhD in chemistry from the University of New Mexico and joined the Kirk Lab in 2013. Her current research focuses on computational studies on the rectification and conductance properties of donor-bridge-acceptor molecules and synthetic, computational, and spectroscopic work on the donor-bridge-acceptor platinum complexes to understand the excited state relaxation mechanism. Her research also includes the computational, synthesis and spectroscopic studies of biradical platinum (II) complexes for further insight into the spintronic mechanism.

Representative Publications:

  1. J. Yang, D. K. Kersi, C. Richers, Logan J. Giles, R. Dangi, Benjamin W. Stein, Changjian Feng, Christopher R. Tichnell, M. L. Kirk and D. A. Shultz: ‘Ground State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Chemical Shifts Predict Charge-Separated Excited State Lifetimes’ Inorganic Chemistry, 2018 DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.8b02087.

  2. M. L. Kirk, D. A. Shultz, J. Zhang, R. Dangi, L. Ingersol, J. Yang, N. S. Finney, R. D. Sommer, L. Wojtas, Heterospin Biradicals Provide Insight into Molecular Conduction and Rectification, Chemical Science, 2017, 8, 5408 – 5415. DOI: 10.1039/c7sc00073a

  3. D. E. Stasiw, J. Zhang, G. Wang, R. Dangi, B. W. Stein, D. A. Shultz, M. L. Kirk, L. Wojtas, R. D. Sommer, Determining the Conformational Landscape of σ and π Coupling Using para-Phenylene and “Aviram-Ratner” Bridges, JACS, 2015, 137 (29), 9222-9225.  DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b04629

Ju Chen


Brief Bio:

Ju earned his B.S. in Chemistry at Nanjing Tech University in June 2012. After working in preparation of nanomaterials for fuel cells at Shanghai Advanced Research Institute, for one year, he decided to pursue Ph.D. degree in Chemistry at the The University of New Mexico in August 2013, and joined the Kirk Lab in December 2013.

His current research focuses on spectroscopic, and computational studies of multi-spin radical systems. His work on biradical systems focus on characterizing exchange coupling interaction, and validating VBCI model, using a combination of magnetic susceptibility (SQUID Magnetometer), electronic absorption, and paramagnetic(EPR) spectroscopies. He studies three spin system at excited state targeting on the control and manipulation of dynamic spin processes to developing large spin polarization using electronic absorption, and paramagnetic (EPR, MCD) spectroscopies.

Representative Publications:

  1. Stein, B. W.; Tichnell, C. R.; Chen, J.; Shultz, D. A.; Kirk, M. L.; Excited State Magnetic Exchange Interaction Enable Large Spin Polarization Effects, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 6, 2221-2228.

Amrit Pokhrel


Brief Bio:

Amrit received his B.Sc. in 2002 and M.Sc. in 2004 from Tribhuvan University in Nepal concentrating in Inorganic Chemistry. After M.Sc., he worked about seven years as chemistry instructor where he instructed both lecture and lab chemistry courses for undergraduate level at multiple private institutions in various parts of Nepal. In 2013, he joined UNM as graduate student and in the following year, he joined Kirk Research group to continue his PhD. His graduate work is more inclined to model chemistry related to molybdoenzymes. More specifically, he is involved in synthesis and characterization of new model compounds that mimic the active site geometry of the molybdoenzymes, investigates their geometric and electronic structure and their contributions in enzyme catalysis using computational and multiple spectroscopic techniques.

Representative Publications:

  1. Laura J. Ingersol, Jing Yang, Khadanand KC, , Andrei V. Astashkin, Joel Weiner, Christopher A. Johnston, Martin L. Kirk, Addressing Ligand-Based Redox In Molybdenum-Dependent Methionine Sulfoxide Reductase. , 142, 2721-2725.

  2. Jaya Paudel, , Martin L. Kirk, Feifei Li, Remote Charge Effects On The Oxygen Atom Transfer Reactivity And Their Relationship To Molybdenum Enzymes. , (3), 2054-2068.

  3. Hideki Sugimoto, Masanori Sato, Kaori Asano, Takeyuki Suzuki, Kaoru Mieda, Takashi Ogura, Takashi Mastumoto, Logan J. Giles, , Martin L. Kirk, Shinobu Itoh, A Model For The Active-Site Formation Process In DMSO Reducatase Family Molybdenum Enzymes Involving Oxido-Alcoholato And Oxido-Thiolato Molybdenum (VI) Core Structures. , (4), 1542-1550.

Caroline Mangione

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Sangita Paudel


Brief Bio:

Caroline earned her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Vermont in 2019, where she worked for three semesters under Dr. José Madalengoitia in an organic synthesis research lab. She was most inspired by the photoredox catalysis work she was able to perform, and has since been fascinated by photochemistry and all things spectroscopy. She was admitted to the Ph.D. program at the University of New Mexico in August 2020, and has been a member of the Kirk research group since August 2021. She is excited to start working on a number of spectroscopy-related projects, namely those involving solid state and solution magneto-photoluminescence, Raman spectroscopy of biradical systems, steady state and time resolved EPR, as well as computational studies to compliment the aforementioned techniques. 

Brief Bio:

Sangita earned her B.S degree in Nepal. She then he decided to pursue Ph.D. Degree in chemistry at The University of New Mexico. Her current research focuses on the synthesis, spectroscopic and computational studies of radical-elaborated donor acceptor platinum complexes. She studies these system using a combination of electronic absorption, photoluminescence, resonance Raman, and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopies. Computational work is performed using the Kirk group’s new Taos cluster at UNM’s CARC.

Shiyue Gao

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Brief Bio:

Shiyue earned his B.S in Applied Chemistry at Northwest A&F University in May 2015. Then he decided to pursue Ph.D. Degree in chemistry at The University of New Mexico in August 2015 and joined Dr. Kirk’s lab in June 2016.

His current research focuses on synthesis, spectroscopic, and computational studies of donor acceptor platinum complexes. He studies these system using a combination of electronic absorption, photoluminescence, resonance Raman, magnetic circular dichroism (MCD), and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopies. Computational work is performed using the Kirk group’s new Taos cluster at UNM’s CARC.

Representative Publications:

  1. Kegong J, Fang Y, Shiyue G, Jiangjiang T, Jinming G. Gold‐Catalyzed Oxidation/C− H Functionalization of Ynones: Efficient and Rapid Access to Functionalized Polycyclic Salicyl Ketones. Chem. Eur. J. 2016, 22, 1-6

Khadanand KC


Brief Bio:

KC obtained his MSc. degree in Organic (major) Chemistry at  Thribhuvan University, Nepal in 2003. He involved in teaching Organic Chemistry for 10+2 and BSc students  at different institutions in his home country. After 9 years of teaching he decided to study PhD in  Chemistry  in the United States and  admitted to the  Univeristy of New Mexico in Fall 2012. He started doing his research work in Kirk group from Spring 2013. His research focuses on synthesizing DMSO redcutase family  enzyme intermedate analogs and on studying these molecules by  multicomonent  (XAS, EPR and Electronic absorption) spectroscoies followed by different levels of computational calculations for the direct comparison of the model systems to the respective enzymes.

Laura Ingersol


Brief Bio:

Laura earned her B.A. in Biology and Chemistry at The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in May 2011 and her M.S in Biomedical Sciences at The University of New Mexico in July 2014.

Her current research interests include computational studies on the molecular rectification behavior of the biologically ancient pyranopterin dithiolene ligand, and a combination of spectroscopic (EPR, MCD, XAS, etc.) and computational studies on the bacterial molybdoenzyme, MsrP.

Representative Publications:

  1. Ingersol, L.J.; Yang, J.; KC, K.; Pokhrel, A.; Astashkin, A. V.; Weiner, J.H.; Johnston, C.A.; Kirk, M.L. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020 142 (6), 2721-2725.

  2. Kirk, M. L.; Shultz, D. A.; Zhang, J.; Dangi, R.; Ingersol, L.; Yang, J.; Finney, N. S.; Sommer, R. D.; Wojtas, L. Heterospin biradicals provide insight into molecular conductance and rectification. Chem. Sci., 2017, 8(8), 5408–5415.

Josh Mengel

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Brief Bio:

Josh received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Kansas in 2020 and started attending UNM later that year in pursuit of a PhD. He joined the Kirk Group in 2021.His current research interests include the study of multi-spin inorganic compounds using calculations as well as spectroscopy, bridge mediated conductance calculations, and magnetic field driven phonon-exchange coupling. Computational work is performed using the Kirk group’s new Taos cluster at UNM’s CARC.

Jesse LePluart


Brief Bio:

Jesse earned his B.S. in Chemistry at The University of New Mexico in May 2015. After teaching junior high school sciences in Santa Fe, NM, for two years, he decided to join the Kirk Lab at The University of New Mexico in August 2017 in order to pursue his PhD Chemistry.

His current research focuses primarily on spectroscopic and computational studies of molybdenum enzymes and their small-molecule analogs. He studies these systems using a combination of x-ray (XAS, XES, RIXS) and paramagnetic (EPR, MCD) spectroscopies. The spectroscopic work is augmented by spectroscopic and reaction coordinate computations using the Kirk group's new Taos cluster at UNM's CARC.

Representative Publications:

  1. Stein, B.W.; Yang, J.; Mtei, R.; Wiebelhaus, N.J.; Kersi, D.K.; LePluart, J.; Lichtenberger, D.L.; Enemark, J.H.; Kirk, M.L. Vibrational Control of Covalency Effects Related to the Active Sites of Molybdenum Enzymes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 14777-14788.

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