Department of Chemistry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 18-296
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 USA
Phone: (617) 253-1819
Firmenich Career Development Professor,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Assistant Professor of Chemistry,
Program for Polymers and Soft Matter (PPSM) Faculty,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Scholar with Professors Robert H. Grubbs and David A. Tirrell, California Institute of Technology
Graduate research with Professor M.G. Finn,
The Scripps Research Institute, summers
Graduate research with Professor Nicholas J. Turro,
Undergraduate research with Karen L. Wooley,
Washington University in St. Louis
Ph. D., Chemistry
Washington University in St. Louis, B.S.,
Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry
30 January 2015: Alex and Julie's paper on cycloeliminations of NHCs is accepted for publication in Chem. Euro. J. Congrats Alex and Julie!
15 January 2015: The group welcomes a new UROP: Katherine Young!
18 November 2014: Molly and Jessica's paper on nitroxide-based branched bottlebrush polymers for dual-modality imaging in vivo appears in Nature Communications. Congrats! Thanks to the Rajca group at University of Nebraska and the Hammond group here at MIT for the fruitful collaboration.
13 November 2014: The group welcomes four new PhD students: Yuwei Gu, Gihan Hewage, Yivan Jiang, and Hung Nguyen!
15 October 2014: The group welcomes two new post-docs: Dr. Mao Chen and Dr. Yufeng Wang!
3 October 2014: The group successfully escapes from a room with a zombie.
1 October 2014: Several new faces in the lab! Welcome Dr. Mao Chen, Julie Geng, and Vivian Tian!
29 August 2014: Alex is recognized with a prestigious American Chemical Society Division of Organic Chemistry Graduate Fellowship. Congrats Alex!
12 August 2014: The lab receives a MIT-DuPont Alliance grant for the synthesis of "perfect polymers". Thank you DuPont!
8 August 2014: Angela and Yan's paper on the synthesis of pH sensitive BASP nanoparticles is accepted for publication in ACS Macro Letters. Congrats!
20 June 2014: The group welcomes visiting CMSE intern Julia Zhao!
11 June 2014: The group welcomes visiting MSRP student Leila Terrab!
10 June 2014: The lab receives NIH support for the development of organic radical MRI contrast agents. Thank you NIH.
9 June 2014: The lab receives MIT Lincoln Labs ACC support for the development of new materials for photo-controlled 3D printing. Thank you ACC.
29 May 2014: Huaxing, Eva, and Jenny's article on the application of crossover experiments to the analysis of molecular defects in polymer networks appears online in JACS!
27 May 2014: Alex receives a prestigious 2014 Intel PhD Fellowship! Congrats Alex!!
7 May 2014: Jeremiah receives a 2014 DuPont Young Professor Award! Thank you DuPont!
18 April 2014: Jeremiah receives a 2014 NSF CAREER Award! Thank you NSF!
10 April 2014: Yan and Jenny's work on the synthesis of multi-drug-loaded nanoparticles for ratiometric triplex combination cancer therapy appears in JACS. Congrats Yan and Jenny!
7 April 2014: The group welcomes new visiting student Kojiro Fujimura from Kyoto University!
20 March 2014: Jeremiah receives a 2014 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award. Thank you 3M!
18 March 2014: The group receives a MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) Seed Fund Grant for the development of hybrid metal-organic polymeric materials with Prof. Niels Holten-Anderson's group in MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Thank you MITEI.
20 February 2014: Jonathan receives 2014 Life Sciences Research Foundation (LSRF) Postdoctoral Fellowship! Congrats Jonathan!
18 February 2014: Jeremiah receives 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship! Also congrats to colleagues Mircea Dinca, Bradley Olsen, and the rest of the MIT Sloan Fellows!
14 February 2014: The group welcomes new post-doctoral scholar Dr. Jonathan Barnes!
6 February 2014: The groups receives an Air Force Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) Grant to work on the synthesis and self-assembly of branched bottlebrush copolymers. Thank you AFOSR!
6 January 2014: The group welcomes visiting student Johanna Ertl!
1 January 2014: The group welcomes two new undergraduate researchers Chew and Katherine!
15 November 2013: The group welcomes new graduate student Deborah Ehrlich. Welcome Deborah!
15 October 2013: The group welcomes new post-doc Dr. Mingjiang Zhong. Welcome Mingjiang!
11 October 2013: Jenny and Angela's JoVE article titled "Particles Without a Box" is published online. Go see Jenny and Angela make a nice series of our PEG-BASPs HERE .
7 October 2013: Alan and Angela's paper that describes the synthesis of PS-PLA Miktoarm BASPs was accepted as part of a special issue of Macromolecular Rapid Communications focused on cutting-edge polymer synthesis. Congrats Alan and Angela!
30 September 2013: Alan and Yan's paper that describes the "Brush-first and Click Method" for photo-triggered drug delivery appears online as part of a special issue of Photochemistry and Photobiology dedicated to the memory of Prof. Nick Turro.
15 September 2013: Jeremiah was selected as an ACS PMSE young investigator. He will present as part of the PMSE Young Investigator Symposium at the Spring 2014 National ACS meeting in Dallas, TX.
14 September 2013: The Johnson group has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the "Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer Our Future" (DMREF) program. Our project will focus on the design, synthesis, and computational analysis of polymer networks for emerging applications. This project will continue our strong/ongoing collaboration with Prof. Bradley Olsen's group in Chemical Engineering at MIT. Thank you NSF!
23 August 2013: Alexandra's "tetrazine-norbornene Diels-Alder model networks" paper appears in Macromolcular Symposia as part of a special issue highlighting the 2012 Polymer Networks Group conference in Jackson Hole, WY. Congrats Alexandra!
Note that while our article was in press, Professor Kristi Anseth's group published a related paper on tetrazine-norbornene hydrogels for 3D cell culture. See Kristi's excellent paper here: link.
20 August 2013: Congrats to Ken, Molly, and Angela for winning Department of Chemistry Awards for Outstanding Teaching!
20 August 2013: The Johnson and Surendranath Labs enjoyed an afternoon of intense laser tag action:
17 June 2013: The group welcomes two visiting students: Marco Messina from Mark Olsen's lab at Texas A&M and Tianyuan (Ryan) Liu from Roxbury Community College. It's great to have you both!
3 June 2013: Alex's JACS paper receives media attention:
30 May 2013: Carbene surfaces featured as the MIT homepage spotlight!
13 May 2013: Alex's "addressable carbenes for gold surfaces" JACS paper appears online. Congrats Alex!
3 May 2013: Discussion of our "Network Disassembly Spectrometry" (NDS) method in PNAS:
23 April 2013: "Photo-growth" paper highlighted in Nature Chemistry:
27 February 2013: Huaxing's photo-growth paper highlighted by various media outlets:
2 February 2013: The Johnson Group on their first somewhat annual ski trip:
18 January 2013: Huaxing's "photo-controlled gel growth" Angewandte Chemie paper appears online. Congrats Huaxing!
16 January 2013 : Two bits of great news:
(1) Huaxing's "photo-controlled gel growth" paper chosen as a "Hot Paper" by the editors of Angewandte Chemie: Angewandte "Hot Papers"
(2) Huaxing's PNAS paper on counting loops highlighted in Nature News and Views: Nature News and Views
27 November 2012: "Brush-first" paper highlighted in SYNFACTS .
15 November 2012: The group welcomes four 1st-year graduate students: Angela, Ken, Michelle, and Molly!
9 November 2012: Counting loops by "S/L Method" paper appears in PNAS (click on the image below to access the paper). Congrats Huaxing, Jen, and Alexandra!
4 October 2012: "Pseudo-alternating polymers" paper appears in Macromolecules. Congrats Alan and Alex!
6 September 2012: "Brush-first" paper appears in JACS. Congrats Jenny, Alan and Alex!
19 July 2012: The Johnson Group beach volleyball team:
1 June 2012: We welcome Eva-Maria Schoen to the group! Eva-Maria is visitng from Professor David Diaz Diaz's group. We are thrilled to have her here for the summer!
20 May 2012: The Johnson group celebrates their 6-month anniversary with an exciting day of food, drink, and laser tag.
8 May 2012: Johnson group journal blog launched. Click HERE to see what the group is reading.
30 March 2012: Alan O. Burts receives an NSF graduate fellowship. Alex receive's a Morse Travel Grant for the Fall 2012 ACS Meeting in Philadelphia. Congrats Alan and Alex!
17, 24 February 2012: The Johnson group celebrates the first annual Flory Day(s)! Each student gave a presentation on fundamental aspects of synthetic polymer chemistry. Topics included chain and step-growth polymerization, gelation and network formation, controlled polymerization processes, and polymer architectures. Fun was had by all.
11 November 2011: Welcome first year graduate students Alexandra, Jenny, Alan, Alex, and Jessica to the group! Also, welcome Huaxing Zhou (post-doc) and Elisha Yadgaran (UROP)! First group meeting today.
31 October 2011: Paper that describes EPR studies of nitroxide-labeled brush polymers appears in JACS.
8 September 2011: Classes begin! For info on Jeremiah's course, 5.53 Molecular Structure and Reactivity, go here .
15 August 2011: We welcome Jen Woo to the group!
11 July 2011: The Johnson Group begins! We welcome first year MIT graduate students Melissa Donaldson and Alan Burts!
9 June 2011: Thanks to Tim Swager for inviting Jeremiah to the NSF-sponsored "Future Faculty Workshop: Diverse Leaders of Tomorrow," which was held June 19-21 at the MIT Endicott House. For more information on this year's workshop click here .
1 July 2011: The Johnson group begins!
We seek to cultivate a vibrant and intellectually engaging atmosphere: an “incubator for discovery.”
The solutions to many of mankind’s greatest problems: prevention and treatment of disease, development of alternative energy sources, preservation of natural resources, etc., will rely on the interdisciplinary application of synthetic chemistry. The Johnson laboratory seeks creative, macromolecular solutions to problems at the interface of chemistry, medicine, biology, and materials science. Materials synthesis is approached in an analogous manner to natural-products synthesis; an interesting target structure is chosen and a synthetic scheme is designed to access that structure as efficiently as possible. The targets are designed de novo from careful consideration of the specific needs of a given application and with a particular emphasis on creative architectural design and function. The tools of traditional organic and organometallic synthesis, synthetic polymer chemistry, photochemistry, surface science, and biopolymer engineering are combined to realize the designs.
Just as natural-products chemists must often invent new reaction methodologies to access complex structures and their corresponding derivatives, the Johnson lab will seek to develop new methodologies for the construction and modification of complex material libraries. Iterative library synthesis, function-based screening, and design optimization will ultimately yield basic knowledge, such as structure-function relationships for materials in specific applications, and new materials-based technologies that outperform current alternatives. Some examples of target material platforms and their associated applications are: (1) novel, nanoscopic branched-arm star polymer architectures for in vivo drug/gene delivery and supported catalysis, (2) hybrid synthetic-natural hydrogels for correlation of the effects of network microstructure on cell response, and (3) new types of semiconducting organometallic polymers and polymer films for sensing, supported catalysis, and energy conversion. Taken as a whole, our research focuses on molecular design in three primary areas: nano-scale materials synthesis, macro-scale materials synthesis, and development of new chemical methods for modifying interfaces between bulk and nanoscale objects (surface chemistry).
Dr. Jonathan Barnes
I was born and raised in Louisville, KY. I obtained my BS/MS degrees from the University of Kentucky under the tutelage of Robert Grossman. After graduation, I worked for a biotech company in Los Angeles ‒ Synedgen,Inc. ‒ developing novel antimicrobial derivatives of chitosan and biocompatible, hemostatic foams for the US military. Heading back to graduate school, I obtained my PhD at Northwestern University (September 2010 ‒ February 2014) under the supervision of Sir Fraser Stoddart where my research primarily revolved around the investigation of viologen molecular recognition in the form of synthetic molecular receptors and radical-based integrated materials, in addition to organic-inorganic nanoparticle-based drug release systems. I am now a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Jeremiah Johnson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where I am excited to be able to carry out research in the areas of polymer science and drug delivery. Chemistry aside, I love watching movies, reading, playing basketball, and exploring Boston with my wife and son. Also, I am an avid Lakers and UK basketball fan. Go CATS!
I was born and raised in Burma, and moved to Fremont, California my sophomore year of high school. I am now a freshman studying Chemistry at MIT. I became interested in drug delivery and tumor targeting drugs due to my father’s adverse reaction to chemotherapy and its side effects. I am really excited to be part of Johnson group, and I hope to learn a lot from this experience. In my spare time, I like to play badminton, watch movies and hang out with friends.
Dr. Mao Chen
I grew up in Chongqing, a city famous for hot pot in China. After receiving B.S. degree in Wuhan University, I did my Ph.D. research focused on organic synthesis in the same university under the supervision of Prof. Aiwen Lei. Then, I joined Prof. Stephen L. Buchwald group at MIT for my postdoctoral study of continuous-flow manufacturing from 2012 to 2014. In Oct. 2014, I joined Prof. Jeremiah A. Johnson Group as a postdoctoral scientist, where I will be able to explore polymerization.
I am from Rochester, New York. I received my B.S. in chemistry and mathematics from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My undergraduate research focused on activation and imaging of the glucose transporter GluT1 in muscle cells. In the Johnson group, my research will focus on developing polymers for imaging and directed-drug delivery systems in vivo.
I am a local girl who grew up ~20 miles away in Natick, MA. I received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. During my undergraduate education, I worked in the Coughlin group synthesizing photo-cleavable polymers and with Prof. Ramanathan Nagarajan modeling peptide adsorption to lipid bilayers. I am very excited to continue studying polymer chemistry in the Johnson group! In my free time, I enjoy making a mess in the kitchen, playing the oboe, and reading.
I was born in Ecuador, but moved to Union City, NJ (right next to NYC!) at the age of 12 and have lived there since 2005. I’m currently studying chemistry and biology. In the Johnson lab I’m combining both chemistry and biology to make all sorts of materials, mainly hydrogels: these things are cool. But when I’m not in lab (or class or doing homework), I like to spend my time either watching popular TV shows, listening to music, or reading high fantasy.
I am a high school senior at St. Mark's School in Southborough, MA. Originally from Shanghai, China, I came to the U.S. three years ago. I became fascinated by the field of chemistry through my AP Chemistry course. To pursue my interest in chemistry, I studied organic chemistry and worked as a research intern this past summer. In addition to chemistry, I enjoy acting, traveling, and eating with my friends! I plan to double major in chemistry and philosophy in college.
I was raised in Ningbo, a beautiful costal city in China. I received my B.S. in Chemical Biology from Tsinghua University (Beijing, China). In my undergraduate education, I worked in Prof. Huaping Xu’s lab synthesizing tellurium-containing polymers as drug-delivery vehicles (Believe it or not, they are actually quite bio-compatible!). In 2013, I took a summer research position in Prof. Steve Granick’s lab at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where I was trained as a polymer physicist and finally fell in love with polymer physics. In the Johnson group, I’m excited to explore uncharted territory at the interface between hydrogel chemistry, gelation physics, and even cell migration. Let’s wish me good luck.
Gihan was born in San Jose, CA but moved to the small town of East Lyme, CT at an early age. In an attempt to get away from cold New England winters, he attended Duke University in Durham, NC (obligatory Duke basketball shout out goes here), where he received a B.S. in chemistry with minors in biology and French. While at Duke, he worked in the lab of Professor Stephen L. Craig. There, he studied mechanochemistry, initially by synthesizing force reactive molecules and later designing & constructing active materials with latent chemomechanical functionality. When deciding what his life would entail following his graduation from Duke, Gihan realized that he missed frigid temperatures and Dunkin Donuts and chose to return to New England to continue his studies at MIT. Now, as a member of the Johnson group, he is excited to synthesize polymers for a variety of applications. In his spare time, Gihan enjoys playing tennis, reading French poetry, and writing short (auto)biographies.
I grew up in the town of Stow, MA famous for its apple farms. I got my BA in Biochemistry from Columbia University where I learned a great deal in the lab of Luis Campos. There, I developed an avid interest in polymer chemistry and its various applications in photovoltaics, energy storage, and gene transfection. Now, I'm excited to be a graduate student back in my home state of Massachusetts. In the Johnson group, I aim to further my understanding of macromolecular research through studying polymerization techniques and systems for drug delivery.
Ken studied chemistry and biology at Cornell University and graduated with a BA in May 2012. Although his undergraduate research was in small molecule synthesis, he is interested in polymer chemistry and counting primary loops. He is also an amateur powerlifter, likes to slackline, and enjoys going to BSO performances.
I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; I received a B.S. in chemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Through my undergraduate research experience, I became interested in the interdisciplinary nature of chemistry through work on metalloproteins, molecular electronics, and polyazobenzenes. As part of the Johnson group, I am excited to apply materials and synthetic chemistry for biological applications including therapeutic uses. In addition to chemistry, some of my favorite activities include exploring new places, capturing photos, and cooking up tasty dishes.
I was raised in picturesque Ithaca, NY where I received my B.A. in chemistry and economics from Cornell University. During my undergraduate research with Francis DiSalvo, I became interested in materials science and inorganic chemistry. As a member of the Johnson group, I am excited to apply and expand upon my interests at the interface of organometallic and polymer chemistry. Beyond the lab, I enjoy cooking and exploring the great outdoors, even a bog on occasion.
Originally from Vietnam, I came to the States in 2009 for my undergraduate study. I attended Northern Virginia Community College, and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to finish my B.S. in Chemistry. During my undergraduate study, I worked on developing a radiopaque iodine-containing bone cement in Dr. Valerie Ashby’s lab (UNC-CH) and multi-stimuli responsive nanocapsule systems under Prof. Katharina Landfester (MPI-P), both of which clearly shaped my interest in polymer design and its vast potential in the biomedical field. Upon graduation, I worked on impurity characterization and API release profiling in oncology drugs at GSK. Joining the Johnson group, I will be working on developing ROMP-based BASP nanoparticles for applications in biomedicine, including imaging and drug delivery.
I was born in Venezuela and moved to Florida when I was 12 years old. Now, after learning English and merging with the American culture, I am a freshman interested in Materials Science and Chemistry as majors. I became interested in Chemistry after my first Chemistry class in high school. Nevertheless, I have yet to learn the many intricacies of the subject and hope to do so in this UROP. On another note, I like to paint, watch movies and eat yummy foods in my spare time.
I grew up in a Readlyn, Iowa and received my B.A. from Cornell College, a liberal arts school in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. I had planned to be a theoretical mathematician, but fell in love with organic chemistry the first time I worked in a lab. I performed research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying nitroxide radicals for the development of new MRI contrast agents. I am excited to continue working on medically relevant projects as a member of the Johnson group, where I will focus on functionality of drug loaded polymers. In my spare time, I enjoy playing guitar, singing, hiking, and playing board games.
I was born in and have resided in a pleasant Bay Area suburb all my life. Fortunately, in the midst of pursuing my undergraduate degree, I have discovered that I do in fact enjoy cold winters. In combining MIT's academic prowess with the hands-on experience of this UROP, I aim to build a solid foundation for myself in the field of chemistry. That aside, I enjoy reading short stories, exploring new restaurants with friends, and volunteering at citizenship workshops when I have the chance.
Dr. Yufeng Wang
I received my B.S. in chemistry from Peking University (Beijing, China) in 2008, where I learned polymer chemistry with the guidance of prof. Xinhua Wan. I then moved to New York City and joined the group of prof. Marcus Weck at NYU’s department of chemistry, studying the fabrication and self-assembly of complex materials including colloids and polymers. Under the supervision of both Prof. Marcus Weck and Prof. David Pine, I obtained my Ph. D. in chemistry in May 2014. After graduation, I stayed at NYU and worked as a research scientist in prof. Pine’s group for several months, exploring the crystallization of DNA coated microparticles. I am now a postdoctoral scientist in Prof. Jeremiah Johnson’s lab at MIT. My research is focused on creating dynamic yet robust polymer materials through molecular self-assembly.
I grew up in Windsor, Ontario and moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan when I was 10. I am currently studying chemistry and mathematics at MIT. In the Johnson group, I will be exploring polymers and their applications in drug delivery, and I am eager to see what this learning experience will bring. Beyond research and classes, I enjoy traveling, playing the violin, creative writing, and trying new things!
Dr. Mingjiang Zhong
I grew up in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province, P.R.China. After receiving my B.S. degree in double majors of Chemistry and Mathematics at Peking University under the supervision of Prof. Yun-Dong Wu, I pursued my Ph.D. degree at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) under the direction of Profs. Krzysztof Matyjaszewski and Tomasz Kowalewski. My primary research interests at CMU spanned the subjects of mechanistic study of reversible-deactivation radical polymerization, macromolecular self-assembly, nanocarbon and soft materials for energy storage and conversion applications. In October 2013, I joined the groups of Profs. Jeremiah A. Johnson and Bradley D. Olsen as a joint postdoctoral fellow, where my research will be focused on design and physical characterization of complex polymeric structures such as hydrogels and molecular brushes.
When I was 11, I moved from my hometown Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine to a suburb of Chicago. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, I completed the Integrated Science Program, and studied mathematics and chemistry. Since my first taste of chemistry research in Tobin Marks’s group and throughout my work in SonBinh Nguyen’s group at NU I have been drawn to problems that were at the interface of materials science and organic chemistry. In the Johnson group, my research continues to be interdisciplinary, encompassing organic and organometallic synthesis, polymer chemistry, and surface science. When not doing chemistry, I enjoy playing guitar, soccer, and exploring Boston with my wife.
“Cycloelimination of imidazolidin-2-ylidene N-heterocyclic carbenes: Mechanism and insights into the synthesis of stable “NHC-CDI” amidinates”