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The Team

Lei Zhu


PhD, Principal Investigator

BS, Chemistry, Beijing University

PhD, Chemistry, New York University

Postdoctoral, Organic Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin


Lei Zhu received his Bachelor's Degree in chemistry from Peking University in 1997. In that summer, Lei went to New York University for graduate studies in chemistry under the mentorship of Professor James Canary. After defending his PhD dissertation in January 2003, Lei joined Professor Eric Anslyn’s group at the University of Texas at Austin as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Upon completing his postdoctoral appointment, Lei started his independent career in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University in August 2005.

Kevin Little

PhD Candidate, 5th year

Kevin graduated from Berry College in 2018. Following a year of experience in high school teaching, he was accepted into the FSU graduate program. His long-term research objectives are (1) developing new tools in chemical biology, and (2) applying these tools in studying how drug and other vital minerals/small molecules interact on a cellular level. 


Brandon Nusser

PhD Candidate, 5th year

Brandon graduated from California State University, Chico. He spent 10 weeks in the summer of 2018 as an REU student in the Zhu Group. Now he returned to the Zhu Group as a graduate student. Brandon's research involves developing fluorescent dyes that have excitation-dependent dual emission. They are both fundamentally interesting and potentially valuable as a new class of emitters in light-emitting devices. 

Kristen Weeks

PhD Candidate, 4th year

Kristen graduated from College of Charleston in 2020. She did undergraduate research on biodegradable drug delivery polymers. She is also very active with scientific outreach. Kristen's research goals are developing new copper catalyzed "click" type reaction methodologies.

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Gideon Ofosu Addai

PhD Candidate, 3rd year

Gideon graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 2020. He gained experience as a teaching assistant at KNUST for a year. Gideon's research goals involve exploring the impacts that organic chemistry has on chemical biology.

Yael Medley

Graduate Student, 3rd year

Yael graduated from The University of South Florida in 2015. Following a few internship experiences, she was accepted to FSU. Her long-term research objectives are (1) Studying the properties of fluorophores using computational analysis (2) Designing synthetic strategies to produce these fluorophores and (3) Studying their photophysical properties. After she graduates, she plans to teach at a small college.  

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Lucy Jenkins

Graduate Student, 3rd year

Lucy graduated from Allegheny College in 2020. Their undergrad research focused on develping fused cyclo-butanes. Following graduation, they completed a year of service with Americorps in Baton Rouge, LA. Lucy's current research involves developing methods for synthesizing 2,3 substituted indoles, a common motif among pharmaceuticals.

Jacqueline Pinkerton

Graduate Student, 1st year

Jacqueline Pinkerton graduated from Pensacola Christian College in 2023. As an REU student she did organic synthesis of illudalogs at West Virginia University and computational analysis of gold nanoparticles at Kansas State University. Her current interests are in organic synthesis.

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