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Current students of the Gudmundsdottir lab

Graduate Students




Rajkumar Merugu

Raj obtained his MSc from BGSU 2017. He will be working towards his PhD in the group. He is a PhD candidate and has been interning with P&G.



DeAnte Judkins

At the University of Cincinnati, DeAnté obtained his BSc ACS certified in 2014. Afterwards, DeAnté proceeded to the industry where he worked at Tedia as a R&D Chemist. That is where he developed many procedures to purify raw materials formulating high purity solvents and also developed different methods to analyze the solvent’s purity using instrumental analysis.


Today, DeAnté is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Cincinnati where he is training to become a Physical Organic chemist with a focus in Photochemistry. In his research, DeAnté is studying the photo-reactivity of nanocrystals and solutions of Azide-Naphthoquinone derivatives, where solvent trapping occurs and polymorphic behavior is displayed. To elucidate the reaction mechanism upon photolysis, many in-lab techniques are used such as products isolation, cryogenic matrices, laser flash photolysis, x-ray crystallography, ESR spectroscopy, and all the former instrumental analysis techniques. As a Photochemist studying reaction mechanisms that incorporates excited states, high-spin nitrenes, and other reactive intermediates, DeAnté compliments his experimental data with computational analysis. Having DFT Calculations assist his instrumental data, he is able to further identify the portion of the mechanisms that occurs on the nanosecond scale as well as the intermediates and products. In his research he will be displaying how the crystal lattice affects the photodynamic behavior of his Naphthoquinone crystals; one Naphthoquinone derivative shows to be jumping crystals and the other derivative exhibits polymorphic behavior upon crystallization where the crystal lattice alters the photodynamic effect from jumping to bending. 



Leanna Patton

Leanna is a PhD candidate here at UC. Her research is focused on the photodynamic behaviors of azidostibenes. Leanna works in conjunction with the UC libraries and presents seminars on different resources such as Zotero, citation managers, and SciFinder-n.  

As a Ph.D.  candidate, Leanna is also a mentor to an undergraduate research student.

She enjoys mentoring and teaching others about her lab knowledge and experiences. 

In her free time, she also enjoys knitting. 



Brandi James

After obtaining her B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics from Wilmington College (Spring 2018), Brandi joined the group in January 2019 with her work is focused on studying sun blockers and geminal diazides. She is currently a PhD candidate and the group manager.


While also researching physical organic chemistry with 2-Azidoazobenzenes in the Gudmundsdottir lab, she has broadened her graduate experience by fulfilling duties such as Lab Safety Advisor (2019-2022), and Peer Mentorship and Teaching roles through the UC Chemistry Department as CCDC’s Mentoring Liasion, UC REU Liasion for summer undergraduate research, (2020-present). Brandi has also been an ACS Project Seed Mentor since Summer 2020.


She enjoys singing for faculty birthdays and binge-watching competitive cooking shows.  


Dmitrii Govorov

I received my B.S. in Russia at the Ivanovo State University of Chemistry and Technology in 2018.  In January 2020 I joined Gudmundsdottir’s lab and started working on the mechanism of vinylnitrene photoisomerization reaction. My main instruments are multireference wavefunction-based and DFT calculations matched against spectroscopy data which together show possible pathways of photoinduced reactions. I am also looking for opportunities of employing machine learning algorithms as a tool to probe excited-state potential energy surfaces. Dmitrii is currently a PhD Candidate. Dmitrii received the Doctoral Enhancement Fellowship from the chemistry department in 2022. 


Dinindu Mendis

Dinindu joined the group January 2021.  He is working on a solution and solid-state photochemistry as well as on photodynamic crystals. Dinindu received the Dover Publishing award from the department for great communication in organic studies.


Niroodha Pitawela

Niroodha recieved her MSc from University of Iowa in 2021 and joined Anna's group in Fall of 2021 studying corannulene using Laser Flash photolysis and DFT calculations. 


Fiona Wasson

Fiona received her BSc in chemistry (ACS certified) with a minor in mathematics from Western Kentucky University in May 2021. She has a background in organic drug delivery polymers and synthesis gas catalysis from her undergraduate research lab and industry internship experiences. Fiona joined the group in Winter of 2022 and is excited to work on gas releasing photodynamic crystals.


Janaka Kaviraj

Janaka received his MSc from Eastern Illinois in 2021 and began researching azides in the solid-state in January 2022. You can read more about his story above. Janaka became our group safety officer in Summer 2022.

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