Current REFS

Meet our current chemREFS team! Feel free to email us individually to schedule an appointment, or contact us at

Emily Zygiel (ezygiel@)
Nolan Group | 3rd year | ​Biological

Emily grew up in Bristol, CT and completed her undergraduate studies Stonehill College in Easton, MA. As a graduate student at MIT, she studies a metal-binding protein involved in host/pathogen interactions. Outside of lab, she enjoys trying new foods (especially all things carb-based), attempting to do yoga, and taking frequent naps (sometimes during yoga!).

Erica Tsai (eytsai@)
Buchwald Group | 3rd year | Organic

Erica is originally from the East Bay Area in California and has been missing predictable weather for the past half decade. She tries to make up for the lack of sun with a sunny personality. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing (read: flailing around on stage), baking (read: setting off fire alarms), and picking up new hobbies (read: having no idea what she's doing in life). Her spirit animal is a hedgehog—small and spiky!

Jesse Gordon (gordonj@)
Schlau-Cohen Group | 3rd year | Physical

Jesse was born and grew up in Montreal, Canada, where he lived until moving to Boston for graduate school. In his free time, he enjoys playing music, particularly rock and klezmer. He plays electric bass and banjo mandolin. He also likes cooking, reading, and hiking--whenever he has a chance to get out of the city.

Julia Zhao (juzhao@)
Johnson Group | 4th year | Organic/PPSM

Julia is a Kansas City native (KCMO, the superior Kansas City) and a Rice University alum. In lab, she works on long molecules. Outside of lab, she works on long runs. Julia likes stressing herself out, then destressing by drawing comics—turning laboratory tragedies into ... relatable comedies.

Kelley Danahy (kdana@)
Jamison Lab | 5th year | Organic

Kelley hails from just south of Boston, and apparently never saw the need to leave, as she’s conducted both her undergraduate and graduate studies in the city. In her spare time, she's devoted to anime, fantasy stories, and classical literature. She will talk about cats with anyone who will listen.

Nathan Ricke (nricke@)
Van Hooris Group | 5th year | ​Physical

Nathan hails from the midwest, but he managed to live in all four continental US time zones by the age of 10. His research is on electronic structure development and modeling electrocatalytic cycles and kinetics. Nathan is also an outdoor enthusiast and science fiction writer.

Saki Ichikawa (sakii@)
Buchwald Group | 5th year | Organic

Saki is originally from Tokyo, Japan and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Tokyo before settling in Cambridge. She studies metal-catalyzed reaction development. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking as well as eating, then working out in the gym to burn calories, singing, and listening to classical music and musical soundtracks. Her favorites are Beethoven Symphony 6 (a great healing effect!) and La La Land.

Salima Bahri (sbahri@)
Griffin Group | 6th year | Physical

Salima was born in Tunisia and grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from Barnard College, she decided to take a year off to work and save money, and spent a second year off traveling and recovering from Mono. Now, she studies amyloid fibril structures using Solid-State NMR. Outside of work, she loves photography and drawing, and will enthusiastically engage in any conversation related to Doctor Who.

Tho Tran (thotran@)
Jamison Group | 5th year | Organic

Tho (pronounced "toe") was born in Vietnam and grew up in Houston, Texas. After graduating from the University of Houston, he decided to go to MIT for various reasons. When outside of lab, he takes pleasure in the little things in life such as Youtube and Reddit. Beyond that, he likes to explore the Boston area through photography and eat at nice places at the expense of his wallet.

Travis Marshall-Roth (tmar@)
Surendranath Group | 4th year | Inorganic

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Travis completed his undergraduate work in the Midwest before moving to Cambridge for graduate school. Although the vast majority of his time is spent wrestling stubborn molecules, he strives to get out of lab and destress via cycling, hiking, photography and writing. He enjoys studying new languages and learning new recipes for fun whenever possible.

Yang-Ting Chen (ytchen@)
Drennan Group | 6th year | Physical

Yang-Ting was transplanted to Boston from Taipei. Despite his pchem training back home, he currently works on characterizing grumpy proteins. In his free time, he goes to the theatre, explores neighborhoods in Boston, or enjoys gravity on the couch.