Chemistry Research Fellowships

The Kubota and Myhre Research Fellowships in Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College has two research fellowships in Chemistry in honor of Mitsuru Kubota and Philip C. Myhre, emeriti professors of chemistry, in recognition of their dedicated service and significant contributions to Harvey Mudd College.

These Fellowships provide research support for chemistry and joint chemistry/biology majors to conduct research on campus with a chemistry faculty member in the summer following their sophomore year, continuing through the junior academic year, and in the summer following their junior year. Summer stipends, academic-year wages, research expenses, and conference travel funds will be available. This year’s 2022-2023 Myhre Fellowship was awarded to Natalie Couch ’24 in the lab of Professor Nemr. The 2021-2022 Kubota Research Fellowship was awarded to Erza “Bacon” Bacon-Gershman ’23 in the lab of Professor Van Ryswyk and the 2021-2022 Myhre Research Fellowship was awarded to Drew Pronovost ’23 in the lab of Professor Hawkins.

To be eligible to apply for the next Myhre Research Fellowship in Chemistry, HMC chemistry and joint chemistry/biology majors in the Class of 2025 should apply to the chemistry summer 2023 research program and express their interest in being considered for the Kubota Research Fellowship. Upon acceptance to the summer program, interested students will be asked to complete an application form and prepare a short research proposal in conjunction with their faculty research mentor. Finalists will participate in a brief interview, and the Kubota Research Fellow will be announced in 2023.

Questions should be directed to Professor Haushalter (

Myhre Fellow – Natalie Couch ’24

Head pic of Myhre Fellow Natalie Couch '24 in an orange head bandana

Natalie Couch was a recipient of the Myhre Fellowship this past summer, completing Chemistry Education Research with Prof. Nemr. This summer, as part of the Chemistry Core Curriculum Revision, Natalie helped update the Chem 24 laboratory manual and established new laboratory experiments that were piloted in the course this fall. One of the new experiments developed is an introductory lab whereby students learn basic lab skills by manipulating different types of glassware and investigating important concepts in the chemistry laboratory, particularly precision, accuracy, and error. In another developed experiment, students synthesize a metal-organic framework (MOF) and use spectrophotometry to test the MOF’s ability to take up dyes in an aqueous solution, which has applications in water treatment.

This fall, Natalie is continuing to enhance the curriculum in Chem 24 by working on the creation of short pre-lab videos (5-10 minutes) to improve the accessibility of course content for students and help with preparation prior to lab. This collaborative project entails scriptwriting, acting, filming, editing, and recording audio for videos.

Kubota Fellow – E. Bacon-Gershman ’23

Head and shoulders of Ezra Bacon-Gershman

Over two years, Bacon studied the surface chemistry of lead sulfide quantum dots in his quest to improve the efficiency of bulk heterojunction solar cells. Quantum dot solar cells are third-generation, thin-film photovoltaics with a total thickness of roughly 400 nm. This contrasts to the photoactive region of a typical silicon solar cell which is 200-500-um thick. Bacon’s work has two parts. The first was to develop a synthetic protocol for the synthesis and subsequent phase-transfer ligand exchange of circa 3-nm diameter photoactive quantum dots. The second part involved the assembly of pinhole-free thin-film bulk heterojunction solar cells. Challenges in the first part included tuning the phase transfer reaction to work effectively without resorting to an inert atmosphere, while the second part involved the creation of quantum dot “inks” to allow facile printing of solar cells.

Bacon’s work was advanced by a recent National Science Foundation-Major Research Instrumentation award to create an instrumentation “toolset” in Claremont for advanced study of photovoltaics. Tools in the set include an FE-SEM (field effect scanning electron microscope) capable of 2-nm resolution equipped with EDX (energy dispersive x-ray analysis), an IPCE/EQE (incident photon conversion efficiency/external quantum efficiency) bench, an optoelectronic test bench, an automated metal evaporator, and a wide array of simulated solar spectrum sources. Physics Profs. Janice Hudgings and David Tanenbaum (HMC ’88), both of Pomona College, are co-PIs with Van Ryswyk on the toolset award.

Myhre Fellow – Drew Pronovost ’23

Head and shoulders of Drew Pronovost

Last year’s Myhre Fellow, Drew Pronovost worked with Professor Hawkins in the field of atmospheric chemistry. Drew was part of an NSF-funded project investigating how oxygenated phenolic compounds, prevalent in wildfire plumes, can change composition and color during atmospheric reactions. This chemistry could be important for understanding the impact of these emissions on both air quality and climate change. Specifically, the experiments planned for summer 2022 in Paris, France, were part of a collaboration with the University of San Diego and the University of Paris, Créteil, making use of an atmospheric simulation chamber capable of reproducing cloud and fog conditions. In these conditions, browning reactions are thought to be an important source of atmospheric brown carbon. Their role will be to use aerosol mass spectrometry to probe the chemical changes taking place in real time in the chamber. In order to prepare for this work, Drew spent the summer of 2021 training with Professor Hawkins on this technique. The Hawkins lab has an instrument quite similar to the mass spectrometer in France, making Drew especially well-prepared for this exciting research endeavor.

Award YearRecipients
2022Natalie Couch ’24/Myhre Fellow/Nemr Lab
2021E. Bacon-Gershman ’23/Kubota Fellow/Van Ryswyk Lab
2021Drew Pronovost ’23/Myhre Fellow/Hawkins Lab
2020No award
Research Fellowship Recipients