Current Graduate Students

    Michael Barclay

    Mike graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Creighton University in 2009. As an undergraduate, he studied nucleic acid structure and function; utilizing Nucleotide Analog Interference Mapping to study important functional groups in Riboswitches. Mike joined the Fairbrother group in 2010 and started his work in surface chemistry. Currently he is collaborating with the National Institute for Standards and Technology to provide a detailed connection between electron beam and extreme ultraviolet-induced deposition of carbonaceous deposits on multi layered mirrors. Additionally he hopes to study the cleaning effects of atomic hydrogen on these deposits.

    David Goodwin

    David graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from Lafayette College in 2010 where as an undergraduate research student he studied the phase transfer chemistry of the Scott test for cocaine, a presumptive test not well understood but commonly used by police. He also worked on the fabrication of polymer-coated single-walled carbon nanotubes for use in electronic devices.  After joining the Fairbrother Group in August 2010, David began researching CNT release from and degradation of carbon nanotube polymer composites in the environment by means of microbial interactions, hydrolysis, and photolysis. His focus on the microbial viability, attachment to, and biodegradation of these materials is in collaboration with Dr. Ed Bouwer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at JHU. Another project David works on involves tagging various functional groups on nanomaterials with selective reagents for quantification by XPS or EDAX. He is also helping to develop new methods of clean water filtration using carbon nanotube incorporated membranes in collaboration with Dr. Haiou Huang at the JHU School of Public Health.

    Miranda Gallagher
    Miranda Gallagher ( is a graduate of Chemistry and French from Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY. She is currently researching the role of nanoparticles and polymer nanocomposites in the environment at the Department of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University in the Howard Fairbrother Research Group. Past collaborations with the Bloomberg School of Public Health (pdf) led to the development of a backwashable carbon nanotube polymer nanocomposite membrane for use in water filtration of bacteria, viruses and heavy metal ions. With Ben Frank, she is currently researching the photodegradation, environmental fate and mass balance lifecycle of naturally occurring nanoparticles. In collaboration with David Durkin, she is researching the advantageous materials properties of carbon nanotubes in consumer products including polymer nanocomposites.Through materials and surface analysis of degraded samples, she seeks to inform the redesign of safer high quality quantum dot polymer nanocomposites for the CSN (

    Ronald Lankone

    Ronald graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry and Minor in Mathematics from Tulane University in 2012. During his time as an undergraduate, he examined the effectiveness of high voltage discharge as a method of volatile organic compound remediation through the use of molecular beam mass spectrometry. Upon joining the Fairbrother group in December 2012, Ronald began studying the photolysis of commercially relevant polymer-carbon nanotube composites (nanocomposites). More specifically, his goal is to probe the extent to which carbon nanotubes (both single walled and multiwalled) impact the photodegradation of a given polymer-carbon nanotube composite. Utilizing various analytical and imaging techniques including but not limited to XPS, SEM, TEM, ATR, and ICP-MS, the aim is to assay the composite systems before, during, and after light exposure to uncover the mechanisms which govern degradation. In an effort to extend the study beyond carbon nanotube nanocomposites, Ronald is also beginning to study the impact that various nanoparticles (gold, silver, titanium dioxide, and graphene oxide) have on the photodegradation behavior of polymers.

    Julie Spencer
    Julie graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Japanese. After sailing the high seas and seeing the world with the U.S. Navy, she joined the Fairbrother group in the fall of 2012. As part of the electron beam induced deposition (EBID) project, she is studying the effect of ligand architecture on the bond breaking process in EBID, as well as the role that temperature plays in the deposition of nanostructures. She is interested in investigating the properties of unusual organometallic compounds to identify improved precursors for the EBID process.

    Rachel Thorman

    Rachel graduated from Princeton University in 2011 with a B.A. in Chemistry and a Certificate in Materials Science. As an undergraduate, she worked in the Bernasek Lab studying alkali metal deposition on model SAM thin films for atomic magnetometers. Currently, Rachel is a joint student between the Fairbrother Group and Professor Oddur Ingólfsson's group at the University of Iceland, where she is studying the effects of low-energy electrons on focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID) precursors in the gas phase. Rachel is particularly interested in combining gas phase, surface, and in-situ FEBID studies to better understand the fundamental low-energy electron-initiated processes occurring in FEBID.

    Dave Durkin

    Dave Durkin graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1998 with a B.S. in Chemistry, and earned a M.S. in Chemistry from Drexel University in 2000.  At USNA and Drexel, he developed unique methods in capillary electrophoresis to separate forensic and pharmaceutical analytes.  He has served as a U.S. Naval Officer since 1998, completing 11 years as an operational helicopter pilot, deploying multiple times worldwide.  His most recent shore duty assignment was at USNA, where he taught undergraduate chemistry and pursued new research with natural fiber welding, developing high performance flexible, knittable supercapacitors out of natural biopolymer yarns.  In July 2014 Dave started the chemistry graduate program at Johns Hopkins University, joining the Fairbrother research group immediately.  His current research focuses on fabricating material composites from natural bio- and/or synthetic polymers for electrochemical and catalytic applications, in collaboration with George Washington University and the United States Naval Academy.

     Benjamin Frank

    Ben graduated with a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. As an undergraduate, he studied the patterning of piezoelectric self-assembling monolayers on a gold substrate using atomic force microscopy. After joining the Fairbrother group in the fall of 2014, Ben began research on the incorporation of nanoparticles into polymer, beginning with TiO2. Once combined with the nanoparticles, these polymers are biodegraded in order to ascertain the effect that the nanoparticle has on this decay.


    Visiting Students and Scholars

    Xin Tang

    Xin Tang is a Ph. D. student from Dr. Kit Bowen's group of Johns Hopkins University.

    Undergraduate Students

    Pat Geronimo

    Chemistry Major, Johns Hopkins University


    Samantha Rosenberg
    Samantha graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Physics from Northeastern University in 2008 where as an undergraduate research student she studied the design of a new class of zeolites. After joining the Fairbrother group in the summer of 2008, she joined the electron beam induced depostion (EBID) studies. Currently she is studying the effect of ligand archetechture on the bond breaking process in EBID, as well as the role that temperature plays in the deposition of nanostructures.

    Jin Yang
    Joint Student with Prof. William P. Ball
    Jin graduated with a B.S. in Environmental science in 2007 from the College of Environmental Sciences at Peking University in Beijing, China. During her undergraduate research she studied the microbiologic characteristics of the aerobic/anaerobic channel for nitrogen removal in water treatment processes. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Jin joined the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and obtained a M.S. in Environmental Engineering in 2008. She then joined the research group of Professor William P. Ball as a Ph.D. student and started a carbon nanotube related project in collaboration with Dr. Ball and Dr. Howard Fairbrother. She is currently studying the transport of Multi-walled carbon nanotubes with different surface oxidation through simulated porous media under varied aquatic chemistry. Besides transport study, she is also studying the ability of MWCNTs to adsorb heavy metals and organic contaminants.

    Julie Bitter

    Julie graduated with a B.S. in Forensic Science from the University of Central Florida in 2008 where as an undergraduate research student she studied the capture and detection of explosives pre and post detonation. After joining the Fairbrother group in the fall of 2008, she joined carbon nanotube related projects to understand structure-property relationships and how surface chemistry influenced their behavior in aqueous media. Currently she is studying the behavior of carbon nanotubes in water as they are being exposed to UV light. Julie also works on a collaborative project with Michael Bevan in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at JHU where she uses total internal reflection microscopy to examine forces that exist between colloidal particles of various sizes, shapes, and compositions with environmentally relevant surfaces.