About Our Group

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask


Who are we?

The group is comprised of scientists from several different countries and U.S. States. As of July, 2016, we count students/postdocs from the states of New Jersey, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Georgia and Colorado, as well as the nations of Sri Lanka, China, Lebanon, France, Mexico and India. Prof. Zwier hails originally from Michigan, but now considers himself a full-fledged Boilermaker.


What do we do?

We work at the interface between molecular spectroscopy and chemical dynamics, applying laser-based methods to obtain conformer- and isomer-specific spectra of neutral molecules, free radicals, and ions, and studying their photochemistry and photoisomerization.  These methods are applied to molecules with biological relevance, reactive intermediates of importance in combustion, and photochemical processes that may occur in interstellar space and planetary atmospheres.


How do we do it?

We use high-powered, pulsed, tunable UV and IR lasers, vacuum chambers, supersonic expansions, and fast electronics, all under computer control, ultimately detecting either the photons our molecules emit or the ions produced from two photon ionization. Additionally, we have recently introduced ion spectroscopy and microwave spectroscopy capabilities to our group. Our analysis requires extensive use of computational chemistry. More detail on our experimental methods and instrumentation can be found in the Research Methods section of our website.


Who funds our research?

We are currently funded by the National Science Foundation Experimental Physical Chemistry program, the Department of Energy Office of Sciences, and NASA Planetary Atmospheres program.


How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in the group?

Most students take 5 years to graduate with a Ph.D. The current record is 4.0 years, held jointly by Ralph Bandy and Brian Dian.


How many students have graduated from the group?

As of July 2016, 35 students have graduated from the group, 30 with a Ph.D. Additionally, 11 post-doctoral associates have come through the group as well as a multitude of undergraduates. A list of alumni can be found here.


Where do students go after they graduate?

Students from the group have taken up positions around the world in industry, national laboratories, and academia, both at research institutions and predominantly undergraduate schools. A list of alumni and their positions after leaving the Zwier group can be found here.


I want to know more!

Please feel free to contact any member of the lab for more information. Contact information can be found on the Group Members Page.