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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.

Joe Hurley

PhD Candidate, 5th year

BS, Chemistry, Northern Illinois University, IL


Research interest: Light-emitting molecules and materials

Kevin Little

Graduate Student, 2nd 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. Kevin joined the Zhu Group in Nov. 2019. 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

Graduate Student, 2nd 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

Graduate Student, 1st 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.

Dan Stone

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-

Dan is a Junior who is interested in molecular biology and cell biology. He is involved in developing live-cell labeling tools that utilize bioorthogonal chemistry.

Xiaowen Zhao

Graduate Student, 1st year

Xiaowen graduated from Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 2019. She received an applied chemistry degree.

Jared Cossin

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-

Jared is a Senior who is interested in molecular biology and cell biology. He is involved in developing live-cell labeling tools that utilize bioorthogonal chemistry.

Shaun Crist

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-

Shaun is a junior who is interested in the synthesis of organic fluorophores. He is interested in developing molecules for physcial organic experimentation.

Thomas Suarez

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-

Thomas is a freshman who is interested in physical and organic chemistry. He is involved in developing new copper-catalyzed reactions for the formation of heterocycle.