Principal Investigator

Gary E. Douberly


Curriculum Vitae

Courses Taught and Teaching Philosophy

Gary is from Jacksonville Florida.  Rather than attend the “too near to the family” University of Florida, Gary found himself further south, attending the University of Central Florida.  Because public high school guidance counselors are largely clueless and advise all students with aptitude in math and science to become engineers or physicians, Gary enrolled at UCF as an Engineering major.  Gary soon became bored with courses such as “Statics”, “Dynamics” and “Engineering Economics” and switched his program of study to Mathematics and Chemistry.  Gary loved his time at UCF, and attributes much of his success to the many wonderful faculty he interacted with in the UCF Chemistry department. 

Upon graduation, Gary and his soon to be wife, Jennifer, traveled to and fro seeking a suitable graduate school.  Their third visit was to Boulder, and afterwards, they decided to cancel all remaining visits.  Gary was stubborn and couldn’t possibly imagine anywhere else in the world being as totally awesome as CU-Boulder.  Nevertheless, because of Jennifer’s insistence, Jen and Gary visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  To say the least, Jen and Gary were so impressed by UNC-CH that they quickly forgot about Boulder and signed on the UNC dotted line.

Gary studied Chemical Physics at the University of North Carolina under the direction of Roger E. Miller and Tomas Baer.  His dissertation was titled “Infrared Laser Spectroscopy of Dopants in and on Helium Nanodroplets: Rotational and Vibrational Dynamics”.  Most of his time was spent building a helium droplet apparatus for novel Infrared-Infrared double resonance experiments of helium solvated molecular clusters.  Gary was very lucky to have been one of Roger Miller’s students.  His best memory of UNC was the day he proposed to his wife, Jennifer, near the Forest Theater.

Following his graduation from UNC, Gary was lucky enough to land a post-doc position with Professor Michael A. Duncan at the University of Georgia.  The timing was great, and Gary once again got a chance to learn from an outstanding advisor.  He and a very talented graduate student at the time, Allen Ricks, were rather productive and published many exemplary infrared spectroscopy studies of gas phase molecular ions, including spectra of several protonated molecular clusters and various carbocation systems, such as the benzenium ion.  Gary’s favorite memory of his post-doc was his 2007 trip to the 29th International Symposium on Free Radicals in Big Sky, Montana.

Gary joined the Department of Chemistry faculty of the University of Georgia in August of 2008.  Since then he has taught junior level Physical Chemistry, senior level Experimental Methods Laboratory, and graduate level Molecular Spectroscopy.  His research interests are described thoroughly on this website.  Professor Douberly has received the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the Early Career Award from the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry Lectureship Award.  Most recently, Gary received the Coblentz Memorial Award from the Coblentz Society recognizing advancements in the field of Molecular Spectroscopy by a scientist under the age of 40.

Postdoctoral Associates


Graduate Students

Christopher P. Moradi


2010 B.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

Chris graduated from North Augusta High School in North Augusta, SC in 2001.  After several university transfers, a few major changes (from chemistry to chemical engineering to computer science right back to chemistry), and briefly quitting school to slave full-time as a land surveyor (glorified bush hook swinger), he finally received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Georgia in 2010.  While doing his undergraduate research with Prof. Douberly, Chris became extremely interested in the quantum world and, specifically, spectroscopy, so he decided to stay in the Douberly lab and pursue a doctorate.

Chris is currently building a high-sensitivity cavity ring-down experiment (99.98% reflective mirrors) using a ~100 cm-1 tunable quantum cascade laser in the mid-infrared.  Once operational, the group will likely begin looking at the high-resolution spectra of biomolecules in the gas phase, specifically the C=O amide stretches, in an effort to improve the theoretical models that relate the much more complex and broadened spectra of condensed-phase biomolecules to their structures.  Of course this involves implementing reliable methods to introduce the biomolecules into the gas-phase at a low temperature and without fracturing them.  Several possibilities for this are currently being considered.   Chris is also exploring the possibility of applying cavity enhanced wavelength modulation spectroscopy to these systems (as well as, of course, HENDI).

Joseph Brice

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2013 B.S. Chemistry, University of West Florida

Joseph Brice, born in 1990 B.C.E., was accidentally sent 3980 years through time at birth. This occurrence has not been explained, and it is why Joseph has dedicated his studies to science, so he can return to his birth family. This also explains Joseph's stature, as it is commonly accepted that humans were much shorter in the past. Joseph’s infant form was spatiotemporally relocated into what is now considered to be the Gulf of Mexico.  He was discovered, and rescued, by a traveling family of American Crocodiles hitchhiking on an oil barge. These crocodiles adopted him as a veritable ugly duckling (because honestly, isn’t that the best way to make your biological children feel superior?)

Though already odd in size, his head was abnormally large, keeping him from walking until much later in life. Confined to the floor, he was well liked by the other baby crocs in his pod.  However, his small lungs and lack of jaw strength made him a liability to his family, and it was with great regret that they left him in the back yard of a Pensacola couple.  Growing up with humans came very naturally to him.  After only 8 months, he had dropped all of the gurgling and hissing noises, typically used to communicate with the croc family, in favor of the Alphabet: though, he habitually missed over half the letters when reciting it. 

Childhood came and went, and Joseph found himself at a crossroad. What should his undergraduate major be? Initially, Joseph found himself in an engineering program at the University of West Florida, tricked by the same bastards who had bested Gary as a young’un. He finally found his calling in the chemistry department at UWF.  Excelling at PChem, Joseph eventually wound up in the research lab of Dr. Karen Molek, where he and his fellow labmates rebuilt a time of flight mass spectrometer. After a freak lab accident involving an A/C unit, a ceiling tile, Albert Einstein’s 1912 manuscript on the Theory of Special Relativity, and the miracle of Newtonian mechanics, Joseph’s blood ended up being a sample in the spectrometer. The curious isotopic results explicated his birth year, and baffled the department. Armed with this proof, he asked his parents, and they came clean about finding him in their yard.

It was this discovery that inspired him to continue furthering his knowledge of The World through the tutelage of the prestigious Dr. Gary Douberly.  His fundamental studies in HENDI experiments are all to further the understanding of bonding and quantum mechanical principles so that one day, the time machine can undo the traumatic event that is his birth.

Alaina Brown

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2014 B.S. Chemistry, Newberry College

In a small suburb of Columbus, Ohio, on a lovely fall Thursday in 1992, Alaina was born, and so our story begins. Ironically, there’s not much more to the story in Ohio besides normal childhood upbringings. In 2000, Alaina’s family was moved to Lancaster, SC, which brings us to the main storyline in her journey to the world of science.

Take a trip back in the time machine to the summer of 2006, where a summer camp of the Governor’s School for Science and Math was hosted in South Carolina. It was there that Alaina fell in love with science, and decided to take this track in life. Forensic Science was calling her name, despite all of the gore that can sometimes be involved. Her instructors at the camp taught at Newberry College in Newberry, SC. Like many people, Alaina had never heard of this school, but upon graduating from Buford High School in Lancaster, SC, Alaina decided to pursue the Chemistry with Forensic Science Concentration at this institution.

Although the degree was in chemistry, Alaina loved her forensic classes much more, even began doing research in the field and took an internship to work at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s Toxicology lab. Her family and friends began to call her Abby because of her job similarities to the character on NCIS. Alaina thought her life was set at this point, and was looking at the prospect of taking a job at SLED upon graduation.

But then, P-Chem happened, and everything changed! Yes, the class was hard, and her mind was blown daily, but Alaina couldn’t help but love the class, and everything about the subject. This was further enforced when she worked with Bruce Ault at the University of Cincinnati doing Matrix Isolation experiments during an REU in the summer of 2013. When looking at graduate schools, Alaina knew she wanted to pursue this field, and has since found herself in the Douberly lab at UGA. She is excited for the upcoming years of research, and also for cheering on the Dawgs between the hedges. (And don’t forget about her Ohio State Buckeyes too!)

Peter R. Franke


2014 B.S. Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University

Peter completed his B.S. in chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, located in the city of Richmond, his childhood home. He first became interested in physical chemistry and spectroscopy while taking Dr. James Terner’s physical chemistry course, where he received his introductions to group theory, vibrational spectroscopy, and quantum mechanics. He participated in two semesters of undergraduate research under Dr. Samy El-Shall, where he learned the basics of molecular beams. He decided to move away to continue his studies and his life. After the standard regimen of Friday morning plane trips, poster sessions, wining & dining, and faculty interviews, he settled on the University of Georgia. Peter was very impressed by the research being performed by the physical chemists and thought that the city of Athens would be a more than tolerable place to spend half a decade. (And he still feels this way.) In the Douberly group, Peter will begin his training as a spectroscopist by putting stuff into helium droplets and seeing what happens.

Gregory T. Pullen

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2015 B.S. Chemistry, B.A. Chinese, Wofford College


Former Group Members

Postdoctoral Associates

Paul L. Raston


1999 B.S. Chemistry, Griffith University

2007 Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, University of Wyoming (Advisor: David Anderson)

2007 Postdoctoral Associate, University of Alberta (Advisor: Wolfgang Jaeger)

2011 Postdoctoral Associate, University of Georgia

2013 Ramsay Fellow, University of Adelaide

2015 Assistant Professor, James Madison University

Paul was a feral child born and raised by wild dingoes in the merry ole land of Oz.  Upon being “reintroduced” to civilization, Paul earned his bachelors degree in chemistry and moved to the cowboy state in the US of A.  Surviving on a diet of canned soup and sleeping on a pile of feathers, he eventually defended his Ph.D. thesis on tunnelling reactions in the solid molecular hydrogens (H2, HD, D2).  This was done under the guidance of Assoc. Prof. David T. Anderson and involved learning the techniques of rapid vapor deposition (to grow the crystals; thanks Mario!) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (to analyze them).

A glutton for punishment, Paul ventured deep into the subarctic landscape of Canada to study finite sized superfluidity in the group of Prof. Wolfgang Jäger.  There, he was given the wonderful opportunity to learn and develop upon several different techniques, namely, pulsed nozzle Fourier transform microwave spectroscopy (for the study of small clusters) and helium nanodroplet isolation spectroscopy (for larger droplets).  He recently moved to the south and is fired up to investigate reactive species in helium nanodroplets, and to finally eat some of George Jones’ famous country sausages! He enjoys westerns, Cosmos, vortices (quantized and otherwise), long walks on the beach, etc...

Christopher M. Leavitt


2008 B.S. Chemistry, Wichita State University

2013 Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Yale University (Advisor: Mark Johnson)

2013 Postdoctoral Associate, University of Georgia

2014 Intel Corporation, Portland Oregon

Bernadette Broderick


2010 B.S. Chemistry, Saint Mary's College

2014 Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Wayne State University (Advisor: Arthur Suits)

2014  Postdoctoral Associate, University of Georgia

2015  Research Staff Scientist, University of Missouri

Graduate Students

Alexander M. Morrison


2008 B.S. Chemistry, Kennesaw State University

2012 M.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2012 Utrafast Systems, Sarasota Florida

Amongst the elephants and lions in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1986, Alex Morrison was born.  A search for a more peaceful place to live brought his family and himself to the USA in 1993.  As a proud alumni of Chapman Elementary School, Woodstock Middle School, and Woodstock High  School, Alex was proud to call Woodstock, Georgia home before moving to Kennesaw for college.

Alex received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Kennesaw State University in 2008.  His unquenchable thirst for chemical knowledge brought him to the University of Georgia for graduate studies immediately following graduating.  Driven by his longstanding desire to fire high power lasers and tinker with electronics, he joined the Douberly group, becoming Gary’s first graduate student.  Since joining the lab, Alex has helped assemble the helium nanodroplet spectrometer as well as automate the OPO laser system using LabView and his imagination.  He has performed many high resolution infrared experiments using the OPO to probe molecular systems embedded in helium droplets.  Some of these systems include small hydrocarbon radicals (CH3, C2H5, C3H3, C2H3), nucleic acid bases, and unusual van der Waals complexes.  Alex is also a sucker for Stark spectroscopy.  He enjoys measuring vibrational transition moment angles to identify different isomers of a molecule or complex, as well as measuring the dipole moment of just about anything.

Away from the lab Alex enjoys high powered lasers, DePalma’s Gouda pie, dominating Mario Kart Wii, horseshoes, and watching reruns of Married... with Children.  In that order.

Steven D. Flynn


2008 B.S. Chemistry, North Carolina State University

2013 M.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2013 RJ Reynolds, Winston-Salem North Cakalack

Steven received a BS in Chemistry from North Carolina State University in December 2007.  Shortly after graduation, he took a temporary position at Targacept where he spent time synthesizing potential drugs for the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Steven began graduate school in the Fall of 2008 at the University of Georgia.  In late 2009 he officially joined the Douberly Group.  Steven’s focus in the group has been directed towards understanding the dissociation of HCl and amino acids in small water clusters and the structure of small metastable water clusters.  He is also working with ionic liquids solvated in helium droplets, among other projects.  These projects all consist of mid-infrared studies utilizing the UGA HENDI spectrometer and the Aculight IR-OPO, as well as theoretical calculations utilizing GAMESS.  Steve has spent time developing new experimental techniques and has had the opportunity to design, build, and use new components for the instrument.  Even in a Physical Chemistry lab there is at times a need for someone with organic synthesis skills, and Steven has been the go to guy for the synthesis of several radical precursor molecules as well as some pure gasses. 

In his down time, Steven loves to play with his dog, enjoys the beautiful Athens atmosphere, and enjoys getting up to the mountains for some outdoor recreation.

Tao Liang


2009 B.S. Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China

2014 Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2014 Coherent, Inc. Shanghai China

Tao received his undergraduate degree from the Department of Chemical Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China in the summer of 2009.  After that he moved to the UGA Department of Chemistry and began the Ph.D. program.  Tao thinks Athens is a nice little town for scientific research and he enjoys living in Athens a lot.

Tao is interested in the amazing combination of laser spectroscopy and quantum theory.  He joined the Douberly lab in 2010, and works on both the hardware and software components of the lab.  He has learned to work with high vacuum systems and state-of-the-art infrared laser systems, such as PPLN OPOs and QCL lasers.  He also does a lot of Labview programming to help automate the tuning of the laser systems, and also a substantial amount of C++ programming for post-processing of the experimental data.  Tao set up a computer cluster named ‘monster’, which so far has only one head node and two computing nodes.  Nevertheless, it has been well maintained and provides enough computing power for low-level quantum chemistry calculations.  The computational packages CFOUR and GAMESS are both available, which are used to obtain the information necessary for the interpretation of our spectroscopic observations.

Tao likes the enthusiastic atmosphere in this lab, where everybody is making contributions and is willing to help each other.  Tao sees this lab teamwork as an essential ingredient for helping students within the Douberly group to become better and more competitive scientists.

Tao enjoys listening to music and playing volleyball in his spare time.

Caitlyne C. Shirley


2011 B.S. Chemistry, University of Southern Mississippi

2014 M.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2014 SciGenesis, Hattiesburg Mississippi

Caitlyne grew up in Clinton, MS, the smallest city to house a Fortune 500 company, the infamous WorldCom.  She toured the country in top-tier choral groups during her middle school years, and taught archery to girl scouts.  Leaving her humble roots behind, Cait  attended a math and science boarding high school in Columbus, MS.  After high school, she attended the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg during its reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina.  After a brief stint as a voice major, she reacquainted herself with her true love – chemistry.  Her undergraduate research area was in organic chemistry with Dr. Douglas Masterson, and she was a summer research assistant with Dr. Maurice Brookhart at UNC – Chapel Hill.  After attaining her ACS-certified BS in chemistry with honors in the Spring of 2011, she joined the University of Georgia and is now a first-year graduate student in the Douberly group.  When Cait isn’t engrossed in her school work she can either be found in seedy bars listening to bands that play too loud or having fun with her dog, Launchpad. 

Emmanuel I. Obi


2011 B.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2014 M.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2014 Cogent Education, Athens Georgia

Bradley Acrey


2011 B.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2014 M.S. Chemistry, University of Georgia

2015 Environmental Protection Agency, Athens Georgia