• April 2021: Irene K. Metz successfully presents her 3-Month Seminar titled "Using Computational Chemistry to Enhance Understanding for First-Year Quantum Mechanics". Congratulations! 
  • April 2021: Blake G. Hudson, Logan J. Augustine, Diamond T. Jones, and SEM present at the ACS Spring 2021 Virtual Conference.
  • March 2021: Congratulations Diamond T. Jones for earning the Ballard Seashore Dissertation Fellowship for the Fall of 2021!
  • February 2021: Logan J. Augustine, Diamond T. Jones, and SEM co-author a proposal to the XSEDE Early User Program where Logan and Diamond gained early access to a new super computer, Bridges-2, for the month of February to test and improve the computational capabilities of the group.


  • December 2020: Welcome to new group members Victoria Rivera and Amelia Sweet (who is co-advised with Prof. Leddy).
  • November 2020: Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer L. Bjorklund for successfully defending her thesis!
  • September 2020: Jennifer Bjorklund presents a well-received 3-month seminar, "Theoretical Investigation of Aluminum Nanocluster Formation and Reactivity." Next stop: Ph.D. Defense!
  • August 2020: Blake Hudson and Logan Augustine both pass their comprehensive exams to officially become Ph.D. candidates.
  • May 2020: Blake Hudson is recognized during Chemistry Appreciation Night for having the best peer-rated Physical and Environmental Chemistry Seminar of the academic year. Jennifer Bjorklund was also recognized for both her CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship and as a past Graduate Diversity Fellowship awardee. 
  • March 2020: Diamond Jones, who has newly adopted a cat, is awarded a Graduate Diversity Fellowship to support her research efforts in Fall 2020.
  • March 2020: 2nd year graduate student Logan Augustine delivers his research talk, "Adsorption of Small Organics on Hematite Surfaces," in the Physical and Environmental Chemistry Seminar Series.
  • February 2020: Jennifer L. Bjorklund is awarded a CLAS Dissertation Writing Fellowship, and featured in a news item by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences! Jennifer is co-advised by Prof. Tori Z. Forbes, and has worked on collaborative projects dealing with aluminum nanoclusters and neptunium complexes, to name a few. 
  • February 2020: Undergraduate researcher Ethan Hollar joins the group, working under the mentorship and guidance of Jennifer.
  • January 2020: SEM visits University of Puerto Rico Cayey and Rio Piedras campuses to recruit and present seminars on group research involving aqueous aluminum nanoclusters and modeling transformations of complex metal oxides. 


  • November 2019: Blake Hudson gives a talk on how complex metal oxide properties depend on lithiation state at the 1st American-Mexican Symposium on Supramolecular Materials Chemistry, held right here at UIowa.
  • November 2019: SEM visits Knox College, IL to present group research and chat about opportunities in graduate education at UIowa Chemistry.
  • October 2019: Blake Hudson presents his second year seminar, "Electronic Structure and Thermodynamics Modeling of Complex Metal Oxides in the Environment," as part of the Physical and Environmental Chemistry Series at UIowa Chemistry.
  • September 2019: SEM visits University of South Dakota to present group research on aqueous aluminum nanoclusters and complex metal oxides.
  • July 2019: Dr. Joseph W. Bennett starts new position, Research Assistant Professor, in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at University of Maryland Baltimore County! Visit the new Bennett Labs website.
  • July 2019: Our paper on systematic determination of Hubbard U parameter values for more accurate modeling of materials has been accepted to Computational Materials Science. While all publications are noteworthy, we are especially excited that this is the first paper for Blake Hudson, Irene Metz, and Sidney Spurgeon. Blake is starting his second year in the Ph.D. program this fall, Irene is a Ph.D. candidate AND chemistry instructor at Hawkeye Community College, and Sid is a former undergraduate researcher. The project also includes contributions from Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology collaborators from the group of Qiang Cui.
  • July 2019: Summer Researcher with the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, Josh Melendez (of University of Puerto Rico Cayey) presents a poster at the Univeristy of Iowa 14th Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Conference on Wednesday July 24. His poster demonstrated the electronic structure analysis techniques Josh has mastered during his visit, that we can use to delineate how material properties track with reactivity.
  • July 2019: Diamond Jones attends the NSF Paradigm Summer School: "Materials Growth and Design: Discovery in the Era of Big (Materials) Data" held at Johns Hopkins University. She also makes time to visit with fellow Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology participants from the Hernandez and Fairbrother Groups at JHU.
  • June 2019: SEM is an invited speaker at the 51st Midwest Theoretical Chemistry Conference, held at University of Notre Dame.
  • May 2019: The group (minus SEM) attends the 2019 Recent Developments in Electronic Structure Workshop at UIUC. Diamond Jones and Blake Hudson present posters.
  • May 2019: Jennifer has another paper accepted in collaboration with the Forbes Group!
  • May 2019: Joshua Melendez, from Univeristy of Puerto Rico Cayey, joins the group as a summer undergraduate researcher through the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.
  • April 2019: Diamond T. Jones is awarded the Graduate Diversity Fellowship through the Graduate College for the fall semester of 2019!
  • April 2019: Through collabration with the CSN, SEM has her first paper published in JACS, with contributions from postdoc Dr. Ali Abbaspour Tamijani!  
  • April 2019: Jennifer Bjorklund and Ali Abbaspour-Tamijani give presentations at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Orlando! Ali also gave poster about his work with the CSN.
  • March 2019: Blake G. Hudson presents a poster at the Jakobson Conference
  • March 2019: Diamond T. Jones is awarded a GRC Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority Fellowship to attend the Environmental Nanotechnology GRC.
  • March 2019: Jennifer L. Bjorklund's first first author paper, on aqueous aluminum chemistry in collaboration with the Forbes Group, is accepted! This is also SEM's first paper to appear in the Journal Crystal Growth & Design.
  • March 2019: SEM presents "Designed Metal Release from Complex Metal Oxides" as part of the Penn Chemistry Physical Chemistry seminar series! It was great to visit with Prof. Andrew M. Rappe and his group, and to learn about all of the new science happening at Penn Chemistry.
  • March 2019: Jennifer L. Bjorklund receives a Graduate Travel Award from the GEOC Division of ACS to support her travel to the Spring National Meeting!
  • January 2019: SEM visits University of Puerto Rico Cayey and speaks at the RISE Research Symposium. 


  • December 2019: We welcome our newest graduate student to the group, Logan Augustine!
  • October 2018: SEM gives an invited talk at the ACS MWRM meeting held on Iowa State campus.
  • November 2018: Dr. Joseph W. Bennett attends the Fall MRS Meeting in Boston, MA, and presents research from the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.
  • November 2018: SEM attends the oSTEM National Conference in Houston, TX. SEM hosts a recruiting booth for UI Chemistry, and also serves on panel discussions about SciComm and career paths as LGBTQ STEM faculty.
  • September 2018: SEM gives an invited talk at Drake University in Des Moines, IA.
  • September 2018: Diamond T. Jones and SEM attend NoBCChE in Orlando, FL. Diamond presents research from the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.
  • August 2018: SEM and Irene K. Metz attend and present at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, held at Notre Dame. Irene presents on work she is going to develop computational chemistry lessons to explore periodic trends in the community college classroom. SEM is invited to present in a session dedicated to Mom the Chemistry Professor, a new book project from the WCC Chapter of the ACS.
  • August 2018:  Little Village Magazine features the Mason Group: Diverse Researchers Diverse Chemistry
  • July 2018:  SEM is the new voice of the Iowa Environmental Focus, a product of UI's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research that is a source for Iowa-specific news, analysis, research, and commentary on the environment.
  • July 21018:  SEM presents a seminar, Computational Chemistry of Nanomaterials in the Environment and at the Nano-Bio Interface, to the Summer Undergraduate Research Program by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at UIowa.
  • June 2018:  SEM marches in the Iowa City Pride Parade as part of UI's first formal presence in the event.  She even got to help carry the banner during the heat advisory conditions...
  • June 2018:  Dr. Joseph Bennett and SEM participate in the Graduate Women in Science National Conference held at UI.  Joe volunteered in an outreach event aimed at the public at the Iowa City Public Library.  SEM was a judge for the conference poster session.
  • May 2018: Diamond Jones passes her comprehensive examination, and is now an official PhD candidate!!
  • April 2018: Jennifer Bjorklund passes her comprehensive examination, and is now an official PhD candidate!!
  • March 2018: The Mason group travels to New Orleans for ACS Meeting! Jennifer Bjorklund, Diamond Jones, Sidney Spurgeon, Blake Hudson, Dr. Joseph Bennett and SEM all give talks, along with two posters presented by Blake Hudson and Diamond Jones.
  • March 2018: The UI Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology Team-- Dr. Joseph Bennett, Dr. Ali Abbaspour-Tamijani, Diamond Jones, and SEM travel to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MA for the CSN All-hands Meeting. Diamond Jones and Dr. Ali Abbaspour-Tamijani present flash-talks.
  • March 2018: SEM gives a presentation, and Jennifer Bjorklund, Blake Hudson, and Diamond Jones give poster presentations at UIOWA's Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute Symposium.
  • January 2018: Blake Hudson, B.S., continues his research in the group as a Research Assistant.


  • December 2017: Blake Hudson, undergraduate researcher, successfully completes his B.S. in Chemistry!
  • December 2017:  Irene Metz passes her comprehensive exam to become an official Ph.D. candidate!
  • November 2017: Jennifer Bjorklund presents a seminar for the Physical Chemistry department at Iowa.
  • October 2017: Irene Metz and Diamond Jones present their second year seminars. 
  • September 2017: Dr. Bennett visits Tuskegee University in Alabama for a CSN lab exchange with the research group of Prof. Mike Curry
  • September 2017: The Mason group's NSF-XSEDE grant was renewed for 2017-2018. A big thanks to co-PI Dr. Bennett!
  • August 2017: SEM has an almost 10 lb baby.
  • August 2017: Mary attends the SUNCAT Summer Institute 2017: Fundamentals and Applications of Heterogeneous Catalysis held at Stanford University during August 14-18, 2017.
  • August 2017: CSN member Liz Laudadio, of Prof. Hamers's group at UW Madsion, visits the Mason group at Iowa for a lab exchange
  • July 2017: Undergraduates Blake Hudson, Sidney Spurgeon, REC student Benjamin Catalano, and visiting student Mackenzie Cole present posters at the Summer Undergraduate Research Conference at the University of Iowa.
  • July 2017: Irene attends Time-Dependent Density Functional Workshop in Telluride, CO.
  • July 2017: Diamond attends Midwest Women in Chemistry Conference.
  • July 2017: Postdoc Ali Abbaspour-Tamijani joins group! Welcome, Ali!
  • June 2017: Dr. Bennett gives a presentation to CSN REU students about DFT methods: "How to Set Up Your Own Calculations in DFT Using Online Resources"
  • June 2017: Dr. Bennett gives an invited talk in at the University of Bremen in Germany at the CECM workshop titled "Tackling the Complexity of the Nano-Bio Interface."  And lucky for the group, he came back to Iowa after the workshop!
  • June 2017: The Mason group hosts a lab tour for the Belin Blank Junior Scholars Institute summer program.
  • June 2017: Mason group welcomes summer undergraduate researcher from Rochester Institute of Technology, Benjamin Catalano, through the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology’s REU program. Welcome Ben!
  • May 2017: The UI Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology Team--Dr. Joe Bennett, Diamond Jones, and SEM, travel to Madison, Wisconsin for the Center's NSF site review. SEM and Joe present oral presentations, and Diamond presents at the trainee poster session.
  • May 2017:  SEM's promotion to Associate Professor with tenure is announced!  The group celebrates with ice cream.  Read the offiicial news here: https://chem.uiowa.edu/news/professor-sara-e-mason-promoted-associate-professor
  • April 2017: Sidney presents her research in computational chemistry to first-year honors students at the University of Iowa.
  • April 2017:  SEM presents an invited seminar at UCSD titled "Molecular-level insights into the biological impact of Li battery materials from DFT and thermodynamics modeling."
  • April 2017: SEM attends the Spring ACS meeting in San Francisco, presenting group research on Al Nanoclusters and complex metal oxide dissolution.
  • April 2017: Dr. Bennett spoke to undergraduate students from St. Ambrose University during a "Careers in Chemistry" Day.
  • April 2017: Dr. Xu Huang successfully defends her thesis, becoming the second Ph.D. to graduate from the Mason Group! She will now continue her research efforts in the Mason Group for the alumina/water project, as well as the study of CLC-cobalt oxide
  • material and CSN research.
  • March 2017: Jennifer Bjorklund presents her second year seminar "Computational Discovery of the Interplay between Aluminum Hydrolysis and Counter Ion Properties".
  • January 2017: After surviving SEM's thermo class, undergraduate researcher Blake Hudson joins the Mason group!


  • October 2016:  SEM and Dr. Bennett are interviewed by the Daily Iowan on their recent NSF-XSEDE award: http://daily-iowan.com/2016/10/26/ui-scientists-probe-nano-effects/
  • October 2016:  Dr. Bennett and SEM attend the Midwestern Regional Meeting of the ACS in Kansas, both giving talks on active group research.
  • October 2016:   The UI Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology Team--Dr. Joe Bennett, Xu Huang, and Diamond Jones, and SEM, travel to PNNL for the Center's fall all-hands meeting.  Joe, Mary, and Diamond all gave flash talks on their CSN research.
  • October 2016:  SEM visits University of Nevada Reno to present a seminar on group research.
  • September 2016:   The Mason group has been awarded an NSF-XSEDE award in the amount of 1.3 million CPU hours!  Happy Computing!
  • August 2016:  We're excited to welcome the talented graduate student Diamond Jones and pioneering undergraduate Sidney Spurgeon to the group!
  • August 2016:  The Mason Group heads to Philadelphia, PA for the Fall ACS Meeting!  Joe, Jennifer, Mary, and Sara all gave talks, there were a few group posters, plus we all learned a lot interacting with collaborators and other scientists.
  • July 2016: Joe presents to the CSN Theoretical and Computational Chemistry team about the new capabilities he brings to the center in a talk titled:  Methodological Developments in the Search for New Functional Materials: My Part in the Materials Genome Initiative
  • June 2016: The group welcomes Irene Metz, M.A., who will be working towards her Ph.D. in the Mason Group in part by developing curricula that will bring computational chemistry into the community college classroom.  Irene is an instructor at Hawkeye Community College.
  • May 2016:  SEM visits Oregon State University, University of Oregon, and Oak Ridge National Lab to give seminars on group research.
  • April 2016:  Dr. Joseph W. Bennett joins the group as a Research Specialist.  Joe will be involved in the UI effort in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology and other funded projects in the Mason Group.
  • April 2016:  Dr. Katie W. Corum successfully defends her thesis, becoming the first Ph.D. to graduate from the Mason Group!  Katie will continue her research efforts at UI in a postdoctoral position with Prof. Ashley Spies.
  • April 2016:  Xu Huang, Chi-Ta Yang, and SEM represent the UI effort in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology at the First Annual Review, held in Baltimore, MD.
  • February 2016: SEM gives an invited lecture on group research at Recent Developments in Computer Simulation Studies in Condensed Matter Physics, an international workshop hosted by the Center for Simulational Physics at University of Georgia Athens.
  • January 2016:  The ECS Water Team (Michael Welford, Jovis Yang, SEM) visits our collaborators (led by Prof. Jeffrey Catalano) at Washington University, St. Louis.  SEM gave a seminar, too.


  • November 2015: SEM gives a recruiting seminar at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO
  • November 2015: SEM presents a seminar to the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry
  • October 2015:  Dr. Chi-Ta Yang (a.k.a. Jovis) joins the group as a postdoctoral scholar.  Welcome, Jovis!
  • October 2015:  SEM gives a seminar to the chemistry department at Michigan State University
  • September 2015:  A collaborative NSF grant (with Prof. Jeffrey Catalano) is funded that will allow us to study the effects of interfacial water ordering on minreal surface reactivity.
  • September 2015:  The Mason Group is partners with the newly funded Phase II NSF CCI, The Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.  Read more about the good news here: http://now.uiowa.edu/2015/08/small-particle-frontier
  • August 2015:  Welcoming all-star first year graduate student Jennifer Bjorklund and advanced student Michael Welford to the group!  Michael is already underway becoming a theoretical surface scientist, and Jennifer will be a joint student with the Forbes group working on Keggin cluster characterization and reactivity!
  • July 2015: New papers accetped!  See publications for the links.
  • June 2015: Our NSF-CBET Proposal on Chemical Looping Combustion (with co-PI Prof. Vicki Grassian) has been funded!
  • April 2015: SEM and Xu Huang present at the Iowa Academy of Sciences meeting held right on campus at the IMU.
  • March 2015:  Sai moves on from the Mason Group to his new position as an Informatics Consultant with ITS here at the University of Iowa!  Congratulations!
  • March 2015:  SEM co-organizes a GEOC/COLL session, Molecular-Scale Processes Controlling Reactivity at Mineral-Water Interfaces, at the ACS Meeting in Denver, CO.  Xu Huang and SEM also gave presentations, and work by Katie Corum and Sai Kumar Ramadugu was represented!
  • January-April 2015:  SEM visits Ohio State University, Wayne State University, Penn State University, and University of Missouri Chemistry Departments to present the group's research.


  • September 2014:  SEM visits the chemistry department at Grinnell to give a seminar, Fundamental Insights about Environmental Interface and Aqueous Nanoparticle Reactivity from DFT Calculations.
  • July 2014:  Xu Huang attends the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics Hands-on Summer School: Electronic Structure Theory for Materials and (Bio)molecules held at UCLA July 21-August 1, 2014.  She was awarded a merit-based travel grant through the program to attend, and while there she presented a poster "Hubbard U calculation on alpha-Fe2O3 (0001) surfaces and the influence on surface reaction energies."  Great science and a great trip to California, way to go!
  • June 2014:  SEM welcomes her baby to the world, and in a few more years, to the lab.
  • March 2014:  Xu Huang and Sai Kumar Ramadugu represent the group at the American Physical Society March Meeting in Denver, CO.  Talks:  "Surface-Specific Hubbard U Calculations for alpha-Fe2O3(0001) Surfaces," (Huang, Ramadugu, Mason) and "Density Functional Theory Studies of Sb(V) Oxyanion Adsorption on alpha-Al2O3 (1-102) Surfaces," (Ramadugu and Mason).


  • December 2013:  John Herr and Judy He present posters for their respective projects at UI's Fall Undergraduate Research Festival.
  • October 2013: A big congratulations to Katie and Mary, who each have a paper accepted and in print!  Visit the "Publications" tab for links.
  • September 2013: Katie, Mary, and Sai represent the group at the National ACS Meeting in Indianapolis.  Katie presented her project on predicting the reactivity of aqueous aluminum hydroxide nanoparticles.  Sai gave a presentation on Sb(V) adsorption on aluminum and iron oxides.  Mary gave a poster presentation of her project on DFT-GGA errors in NO chemisorption, and won one of only 4 poster awards given out in the COLL division!  Great job by all!
  • September 2013: SEM gives a seminar to the Materials Science Department at the University of Iowa:  "Exploring bonding competition and adsorption-induced substrate changes through DFT calculations of geochemical models."
  • September 2013: John Herr and Judy He sign up as undergraduate researchers.  John is working on verifying experimental structures for Fe(II) adsorption on Fe2O3 surfaces, while Judy is comparing sulfate adsorption on hydroxylated surfaces and nanoparticles.
  • June 2013: CGRER Summer Intern Randall Holmes (Stanford University) starts work in the group simulating the properties of aqueous nanoparticles.  In particular, Randall is interested in delineating reactivity trends in Al-13 Keggins with substituted tetrahedral-site cations.
  • June 2013: Dr. Sai Kumar Ramadugu joins the group as a postdoctoral scholar.
  • May 2013: Katie Corum and Xu Huang present posters at the Midwest Theoretical Chemistry Conference, held at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • May 2013: Katie Corum receives an Outstanding Teaching Award for her work as a TA in the department.
  • May 2013: SEM receives NSF CAREER award:  The Environmental Chemical Sciences Program in the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation supports the research of Professor Sara E. Mason at the University of Iowa who will direct a project whose ultimate goal is to develop quantum nanogeochemistry as a platform, (1) to provide fundamental understanding of environmental nanoparticle (ENP) structure-reactivity, (2) to merge distinct theories of ENP reactivity, and, (3) to recruit community college (CC) students for training opportunities at the university level.

Department News on SEM's CAREER Grant.

Iowa Now Coverage.

  • May 2013: Katie Corum successfully completes her comprehensive exam and becomes the first doctoral candidate in the group!
  • April 2013: SEM represents the group at the National ACS Meeting in New Orleans:  Predicting aqueous aluminum hydroxide nanoparticle reactivity (invited, co-author Katie Corum) as part of the Geochemistry Symposium:  Atomistic Computational Geochemistry: Atomic-Level Processes with Macroscopic Implications, and DFT studies of how particle history and bonding competition affect reactivity in model rutile TiO2-water interface (co-author Diane Neff) as part of the Colloid and Surface's poster session on Fundamental Research in Colloid and Surface Science.
  • April 2013: Katie Corum & Xu Huang present their projects at the Jakobsen Graduate Conference.
  • February 2013: Katie presents her 2nd year seminar:  Physical and Environmental Chemistry Seminar - "Predicting Aqueous Aluminum Hydroxide Nanoparticle Reactivity" - Katharine Corum - Department of Chemistry - University of Iowa.
  • January 2013: Graduate students Mary (Xu) Huang and Drona Raj Baral join the group.


  • June 2012: "Comparative DFT study of inner-sphere As(III) complexes on hydrated alpha-Fe2O3(0001) surface models" is accepted to the Journal of Environmental Monitoring, as part of a themed issue on Emerging Investigators. Department News on SEM as an Emerging Investigator.
  • June 2012: SEM presents a talk titled "Linking macroscopic environmental interface reactivity to microscopic properties" at the Midwestern Theoretical Chemistry Conference, held at University of Wisconsin Madison.
  • June 2012: Dr. Diane L. Neff steps on board as the first postdoc in the Mason Group, and undergraduate Elizabeth Curley joins the group for the summer.
  • March 2012: SEM gives two invited talks at the Spring National ACS Meeting held in San Diego, CA: "Theoretical studies of the reactive properties of environmental oxide nanomaterials" and "DFT studies of arsenate and arsenite surface complexes on ideal and defective hematite-water interfaces."
  • January 2012: Graduate Student Katie Witkin starts work in the Group.


  • November 2011: "DFT Study of Sb(III) and Sb(V) Adsorption and Heterogeneous Oxidation on Hydrated Oxide Surfaces" (by Mason, Trainor, and Goffinet) is accepted to a special "Modeling in Materials Chemistry" issue of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry.
  • October 2011: SEM presents "Comparative DFT studies for molecular-level understanding of environmental interface reactivity" as an invited contribution to the Stanford Center for Computational Earth and Environmental Science Seminar Series on Computational Geosciences.
  • July 2011: Dr. Joe Bennett (currently a postdoc at Rutgers) visits the Mason Group for a week and gives a seminar.
  • April 2011: Prof. Sarah C. Petitto (from St. Cloud State Univeristy) visits UI and the Mason Group & gives a PChem seminar.


  • December 2010: Group compute cluster arrives and is brought online.
  • June 2010: SEM arrives in Iowa City!

Link to SEM's Fall 2011 ACS Talk: Applications of density functional theory modeling to the understanding and prediction of environmental interface reactivity

(Click on "View" to start the audio synchronized presentation).