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Meet the Group

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Senior Research Fellows


     Thomas Auvray

Thomas obtained his BSc and MS c in Chemistry from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) before moving to Montréal to complete in 2019 his PhD in Chemistry at the Université de Montréal, working with Prof. G.S. Hanan on (supra)molecular assemblies for artificial photosynthesis. He was a postdoctoral research associate in 2020 with Prof. E.M. Matson at the University of Rochester (NY, USA), working on organofunctionalized oxo-clusters, before joining the Friščić group as an FRQNT postdoctoral fellow at McGill (Montréal, Canada) in January 2021 to study the solvent-free synthesis of organometallic compounds. He moved to the University of Birmingham with the group in September 2022 where his research will focus on the mechanochemical reactivity of inorganic and organometallic materials. In his spare time, he’s usually found enjoying an oat milk latte or a crisp G&T while reading a good book (sci-fi, fantasy, ...).

Michael Ferguson

     Michael Ferguson

Michael was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He obtained his M.Sc. degree in Chemistry from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), Northern Ireland. Continuing at QUB his PhD work was focused on the simulation of mechanochemical reactions and was supervised by Prof Stuart L. James Prof. Jorge Kohanoff. In 2017, Michael moved to the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Mario G. Del Pópolo working on the simulation of liquid-liquid interfaces and pore opening in biological membranes. He first joined the Friščić group at McGill University in November 2020, in collaboration with Prof. Audrey Moores, to perform experimental studies on experimental mechanosynthesis and theoretical studies on liquid additives in mechanochemistry. In November 2022, Michael joined the group at the University of Birmingham where he is working to develop theoretical approaches to better understand solid-state reactivity. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and having a few beers or a whiskey with friends.

Lori Gonnet

     Lori Gonnet

Lori was born and raised in Aix-les-Bains, France. She obtained her Bachelor and Master degree from Montpellier University, France. During her PhD at IMT Mines Albi and Paul Sabatier University, France, she studied organic mechanosynthesis under the supervision of Dr Michel Baron, Dr Rachel Calvet, and Dr Michel Baltas. Lori first joined the Friščić lab at McGill University in January 2020 for a Postdoc to study the synthesis of pharmaceutical components by resonant acoustic mixing. In December 2022, she moved to the University of Birmingham as a research fellow in pharmaceutical and organic mechanochemistry. In her spare time, she likes skiing and spending time with friends

Research Fellows


     Tristan Borchers

Raised in Victoria BC, Tristan completed his B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Victoria in 2016. Under the co-supervision with Prof. Barrett, Tristan's research focuses on photoresponsive crystalline materials, with emphasis on halogen bonding. Tristan completed his PhD in 2023 and is now a research fellow in the group, continuing with research from his PhD. In his spare time, he enjoys brewing beer, watching sports, and reading nonsense on Twitter.

Okba al Rahal

     Okba al Rahal

Okba was born and raised in Syria. He completed his BSc in pharmacy at Damascus University, Syria. He also obtained a master’s degree in pharmaceutical science from Damascus University. In 2014, Okba moved to the UK where he did an MSc by research in formulation design and analysis at the University of Reading followed by a PhD in chemistry at Cardiff University. After PhD completion, he worked as materials scientist at GSK. In January 2023, Okba joined the Friščić group as a research fellow in experimental solid-state photo and mechanochemistry. His research interests focus on various aspects of solid-state chemistry including green chemistry, solid state reactivity, mechanical chemistry, pharmaceutical co-crystals, polymorphism, crystallisation, structure determination from powder X-ray diffraction data and the study of molecular behaviour under external stimuli. In his free time, Okba enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends.


     Alexander Wahrhaftig-Lewis

Alex is from Brighton and Hove and obtained his Masters degree in Chemistry in 2014 from the University of Nottingham. His Masters project focussed on the synthesis of anthracene based molecular handcuffs in the pursuit of a system capable of controllable dimerisation. Alex begun his PhD in 2018 at the University of Nottingham working for Professor Neil Champness, but in 2020 the group moved to the University of Birmingham. His PhD work centered around the pillar[n]arene macrocycle and implemented the porous molecule in larger supramolecular systems. With the target applications of neonicotinoid capturing and MOF adhesion. Outside of work Alex is a multi-instrumentalist and enjoys playing music with his band, and hanging out with his cat Vera.

Support Staff

Sukvinder Gill

     Sukvinder Gill - Senior Technician

Sukvinder was born and raised in Birmingham, United Kingdom. He completed his BSc in Biochemistry (2009) at the University of Birmingham. His 3rd year lab project involved investigating the specificity of the anti-microbial effect of Organosulphur containing compounds (OSC’s) found in garlic on various strains of bacteria and how this could provide an alternative to traditional antibiotics. Sukvinder spent 12 years working as a Senior Technician at King Edwards VI School and joined the Friščić group as a Technician in Nov 2022. His interests include painting, movies, boxing, whiskey and travelling.


     Sarah Griffin - Research Associate

Sarah completed her BSc(Hons) in Chemistry at the University of Glasgow in 2015, undertaking her final year project under the supervision of Prof. Ross Forgan, working on the introduction of alkyne-functionalised ligands into Zr and Hf metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Following this, Sarah continued in the group carrying out her PhD as part of the Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation DTC, studying the kinetics and processes of crystallisation of Zr and Y MOFs. Sarah joined the Champness group at the University of Birmingham in 2019 as a postdoctoral researcher working on complex-containing MOFs for single crystal X-ray study of reactions within the framework. In her free time Sarah enjoys gardening, crocheting, and hanging out with her cat Vera.


     Kathleen Waldron- Operations Officer

Kathleen was born in the UK but family originate from Ireland (Dublin). Kathleen joined the Friščić group January 2023 as Operations Officer. Kathleen has worked at the University of Birmingham for 20 years. 12 years in Primary Care as a Research Administrator/PA., and 8 years in Metallurgy & Materials as a Project Officer. Kathleen enjoys reading, gardening, walking and days out.

PhD Students


     Linda Bechnak

Linda was born and raised in Lebanon. She obtained her Bachelor and Master degree in Chemistry from the American University of Beirut. Her work was focused on understanding the self-assembly behavior of Pluronic copolymers and their application as a vehicle for drug delivery and fluorescence sensing. In 2020, Linda started her PhD studies in McGill, where she joined the group of Prof. Tomislav Friscic. Her research interests are currently focused on mechanochemistry and developing novel boron-based clusters for various applications. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, singing, and reading.


      Jean-Louis Do

Louis is originally from the suburbs of Boston, MA. He got his first taste of chemistry when he used a gummy bear to make fireworks in junior high and plated a penny with zinc in high school. His love for chemistry and a need for a change of scenery drove him to come to McGill where he graduated with a B.Sc in Chemistry and Pharmacology. He originally worked in (bio)chemical kinetics of nanomaterials but quickly realized that he enjoyed making the nanomaterials more. He first joint the group in 2013. Currently, he is a PhD student, co-supervised with Prof. Louis Cuccia working on the synthesis of chiral cage structures. When he not in the lab shaking up something awesome with nickel, olefins, or ruthenium, he is probably playing chess, reading, planning his next (bow)fishing trip, or trying to learn a new language.


     Farshid Effaty

Farshid was born and raised in Iran. He graduated from Shahid Beheshti University at Tehran in 2016 with a B.Sc. degree majored in Chemistry. Then he moved to Montréal to obtain his M.Sc. in Inorganic Chemistry at Concordia University under the supervision of Prof. Ottenwaelder. Currently, he is a PhD student co-supervised between Prof. Friščić and Prof. Ottenwaelder working on solid-state catalysis in organic reactions and tries to obtain mechanistic insights.


     Anna Kapustreynska

Born in raised in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Anna received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Pharmacy (Industrial pharmacy) at the Lviv Polytechnic National University, Ukraine. In the year 2022, she received her Master’s in Health Chemistry at Paul Sabatier Toulouse III University in France, where she started working on mechanochemical organic synthesis during her internship under the supervision of Dr. Michel Baltas. Anna joined the group in the spring of 2023 as a PhD student with the main interest of her research being the synthesis of pharmaceutically active compounds using Resonant Acoustic Mixing technology. Her free time Anna enjoys spending in the company of books, her friends and family.


     Cameron Lennox

Cameron grew up in Montreal and completed a B.Sc. in Chemistry (Bio-Organic option) in 2019 at McGill University, conducting research under Prof. Friščić on HF-Free fluorination of metal oxides and solvent-free synthesis of Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs). He began a M.Sc. in Fall 2019, investigating mechanochemical methods to synthesize microporous main-group materials, and transitioned to a Ph.D. in Fall 2020, developing Resonant Acoustic Mixing (RAM) as a milling-media free mechanochemical method for metal-catalysis. He is currently a Visiting Research Student with the Friščić Group at the University of Birmingham, developing RAM as a method for solvent-free synthesis.


     Cezary Nowak

Cezary was born in Poland and moved to the UK at the age of 10. He completed his M.Sc. at Heriot-Watt University in 2021 and worked for some time at Pion Inc. undertaking projects which measured physical properties of new APIs, as well as the dissolution and flux of their formulations. He joined the Friščić group at the start of 2024 where he will be working on a joint DSTL project to degrade pharmaceutically active compounds as well as chemical and biological warfare agents using Resonant Acoustic Mixing (RAM). In his spare time, he enjoys bouldering, playing video games, and doing anything that might take his interest.

Joe Marrett

     Joseph Marrett

Joe started in the Friščić group in 2016 as an undergraduate, and started his M.Sc. with the group in the fall of 2018. He is from New Jersey, USA. His interests involve the synthesis and characterization of organic and metal-organic solid state materials.


    Toni Spilfogel

Toni was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She obtained her Bachelor of Science from McGill University. She joined the Friščić in 2020 where her research focused on solid-state self-assembly of substituted porphyrin systems as well as halogen bonded cocrystals. In September 2023 she moved to the University of Birmingham to pursue a PhD with the Friščić group. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting and spending time with friends.


    Galen Suh

Galen is a graduate researcher with an undergraduate education in Chemistry from the University of Windsor. They joined the group in Fall, 2019, and they're currently studying syntheses of antimony compounds. Outside the lab, they can be found enjoying avant-garde music, archive fashion, and rock climbing in their spare time.


     Jogirdas Vainauskas

Born in Lithuania, Jogirdas grew up in various parts of the United States before moving to Montreal to study at McGill University. Since joining the Friščić group in 2018, Jogi completed his B.Sc. in Chemistry (2020) and stayed on as a Ph.D. student, working on several different projects involving halogen bonded cocrystals, and solid-state luminescence. In his spare time, he enjoys supporting Liverpool F.C., folk dancing, cooking and playing chess.

Permanent Staff



Zizi joined the group in 2016 from Croatia. She has a very diverse research interest, including the study of motion of balls, surface science of floors, social interaction and behaviour. She is particularly fond of group picnics in Park Jeanne-Mance. She is responsible for morale in the Frišcic group.


Graduate Students

Name Date Current Position
Blaine Fiss, Ph.D. 2016 - 2022 Postdoc at Western University
Ghada Ayoub, Ph.D. 2014 - 2020 Senior scientist at Eurofins Alphora
Ivana Brekalo, Ph.D. 2013 - 2019 Postdoc at Ruđer Bošković Institute
Patrick J. Julien, Ph.D. 2013 - 2019 Postdoc in Burn's-Group, University of Notre Dame
Igor Huskić, Ph.D. 2013 - 2019 Pharmaceutical Chemistry evaluator at Therapeutic Goods Administration, Canberra
Davin Tan, Ph.D. 2013 - 2017
Cristina Mottillo, Ph.D. 2013 - 2017 Postdoc in Friščić - Group, McGill University and CEO of ACSYNAM

Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates

Dr. Dylan Shields 2020 - 2022 Visiting Scholar at the University of Cincinnati
Dr. Luzia Germann 2020 - 2021 Polymorphism and Solid-State Expert at Novartis
Dr. Sandra Kaabal 2019 - 2021 Postdoctoral Researcher at Aalto University
Dr. Filip Topic 2017 - 2021 Process Engineer at IQM Quantum Computers
Dr. Hatem Titi 2017 - 2022 X-Ray Facility Manager at McGill University
Dr. Mihails Arhangelski 2016 - 2019 Assistant Prof. at the Chemistry Faculty, University of Warsaw.
Asha Shelam, M. Sc. 2017 - 2019 Research Assistant
Dr. Athina Fidelli 2017 - 2019 Postdoctoral Fellow at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Dr. Athanassios D. Katsenis 2016 - 2019 Postdoctoral Fellow at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Dr. Fabien Hammer 2016 - 2019
Dr. Dayaker Gandrath 2015 - 2018 Research Scientist, Intellisyn Pharma Inc, Montreal
Dr. Shaghayegh Ostadjoo 2017 - 2018
Dr. Steven P. Kelley 2017
Dr. Leigh-Anne Loots 2016 - 2017 Instrumentation Laboratory Manager in Barbour Group, University of Stellenbosch.
Dr. Huizhi Bao 2014 - 2016
Dr. Krunoslav Užarević 2014 - 2015 Head of Laboratory for Green Synthesis
Dr. José G. Hernández 2013 - 2015 Research Assistant at RWTH Aachen
Dr. Vjekoslav Štrukil 2012 - 2013 Research Assistant at Ruđer Bošković Institute
Dr. Mathieu Frenette 2012 - 2013 Assistant Professor at Université du Québec à Montréal

Master and Undergraduate Students

Yonger Xie 2020-2022
Austin Richardl 2020-2022
Merlin Zabrocki 2020
Sophie McIntyre 2019 - 2020
Ricky Tran 2017 - 2018
Ryan Kung 2016 - 2018 Research Trainee
Shaodi (Allen) Li, M.Sc. 2015 - 2018
Christopher W. Nickels, M.Sc. 2015 - 2017
Michael Y. Malca, M.Sc. 2015 - 2017 co-supervised with Prof. A. H. Moores
Jan-Constantin Christopherson, M.Sc. 2015 - 2017 co-supervised with Prof. C. J. Barrett
Martin Glavinovic, M.Sc. 2013 - 2016 co-supervised with Prof. J.-P. Lump
Neil A. J. Macdonald, M.Sc. 2011- 2014 co-supervised with Prof. I. S. Butler
Antoine Beauvais-Lacasse, M.Sc. 2011- 2013 co-supervised with Prof. A. H. Moores
Feng Qi, M.Sc. 2011- 2013 co-supervised with Prof. I. S. Butler


Name Date Current Position
Francesco Basoccu 2023 Visiting PhD from Università degli studi di Cagliari
Vinko Nemec 2023 Visiting Post doc from University of Zagreb
Cecila Firoe 2022
Sayuri Hashimoto 2022
Prof. Mazen Al-Ghoul 2019-2020 Visiting Prof. University of Beirut.
Isaiah R. Speight 2019 Visiting PhD Student from Prof. Timothy P. Hanusa group.
Szymon Sobczak 2019 Visiting PhD Student from Prof. Andrzej Katrusiak group.
Gemma M. Garwell 2018-2019 Visiting M.Sc. student (Cardiff University, UK)
Katarina Lisac 2018 Visiting PhD Student from Prof. Dominik Cinčić group.
Prof. Michel Baltas 2018 Visiting Professor, Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse (France).
Poppy Hindle 2017-2018 Visiting M. Sc. student (Cardiff University, UK.
Shalisa Oburn 2017-2018 visiting Ph.D. (University of Iowa Sholarship program.
Sandra Kaabel 2017-2018 visiting Ph.D. (Dora Plus Scholarship program, Aug 2017-Apr 2018).
Michael Brand 2016-2017 Visiting M.Sc. student (Cardiff University, UK).
Prof. Ivani Malvestiti 2016-2017 Visiting Professor.
Prof. Ahmed Fekri 2016 Visiting Professor.
Joshua Crew 2015-2016 Visiting M.Sc. student (Cardiff University, UK).
Athina Fidelli 2015 Visiting Ph.D. student from University of Athens, Greece.
Athanasios Katsenis 2013 Visiting PhD Student from University of Athens, Greece.
Prof. William Jones 2012 Visiting Professor, University of Cambridge (UK).
Daniel Prochowicz 2012 Visiting Ph.D. student from Warsaw University of Technology, Poland.