Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Brendon McNicholas

Assistant Professor


The McNicholas lab uses spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques to develop and characterize next-generation energy conversion and storage technologies. We are particularly interested in two promising energy storage architectures:

  • Mono- and multivalent cation batteries employing metal inorganic framework cathodes and anodes
  • Non-aqueous redox flow batteries employing homogeneous or heterogeneous multi-electron transfer electrolytes

Additionally, the development of more efficient and stable catalysts for small molecule reduction and oxidation, specifically those related to photoelectrochemical water oxidation, fuel cell technology, CO2 reduction, and N2 fixation, is an active area of research.

Our students develop a strong background in molecular and solid-state inorganic chemistry, with particular focus on electrochemical techniques, molecular and materials synthesis, computational chemistry, and spectroscopic techniques, including magnetic circular dichroism, X-ray absorption and emission, Raman, and spectroelectrochemistry.


Brendon McNicholas completed his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley in 2014. While at Berkeley, he conducted undergraduate research in the group of Prof. John Arnold. In 2020, he obtained his Ph.D. in physical inorganic chemistry in the research groups of Profs. Harry Gray and Robert Grubbs from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. After a four-month postdoctoral appointment in Prof. Gray’s group, he began a postdoctoral position as a Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar in 2020 at Caltech in the research group of Prof. Ryan Hadt. In 2023, Dr. Brendon McNicholas joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as an Assistant Professor of inorganic chemistry.


B.S., University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA (2014)
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA (2020)
Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA (2023)

Awards and Recognitions

2022 ZAP NSF I-Corps Small-Scale Grant
2020 Resnick Sustainability Institute Explorer Grant (with Prof. Ryan G. Hadt)
2019 Graduate Student Council Outstanding Teaching Assistant
2019 Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Teaching Award
2018 Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Teaching Award
2018 Offices of the Graduate Dean and Registrar Outstanding TA Commendation


McNicholas, B. J.; Tong, Z.; Bím, D.; Kazmierczak, N. P.; Turro, R. F.; Reisman, S. E.*; Hadt, R. G*. Electronic structure and reactivity of nickel(II)-bis(indanyloxazoline)-dihalide complexes: Understanding ligand field contributions that promote C(sp2)-C(sp3) cross-coupling. ChemRxiv, 2023, Preprint.

Cagan, D. A.; Bím, D.; McNicholas, B. J.; Kazmierczak, N. P.; Oyala, P. H.; Hadt, R. G. Photogenerated Ni(I)–Bipyridine Halide Complexes: Structure-Function Relationships for Competitive C(sp2)–Cl Oxidative Addition and Dimerization Reactivity Pathways. Inorg. Chem. 2023, 62, 9538-9551.

McNicholas, B. J.*; Nie, C.; Jose, A.; Oyala, P. H.; Takase, M. K.; Henling, L. M.; Barth, A. T.; Amaolo, A.; Hadt, R. G.; Solomon, E. I.; Winkler, J. R.; Gray, H. B.*; Despagnet-Ayoub, E.* Boronated Cyanometallates. Inorg. Chem. 2023, 62, 2959-2981. Selected for front cover.

Gao, Y.; Hill, D. E.; Hao, W.; McNicholas, B. J., Vantourout, J. C.; Hadt, R. G.; Reisman, S. E.*; Blackmond, D. G.*; Baran, P. S.* Electrochemical Nozaki-Hiyama-Kishi Coupling: Scope, Applications, and Mechanism. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 9478-9488.

Ngo, D. X.; Del Ciello, S. A.; Barth, A. T.; Hadt, R. G.; Grubbs, R. H.; Gray, H. B.*; McNicholas, B. J.* Electronic Structures, Spectroscopy, and Electrochemistry of [M(diimine)(CN-BR3)4]2− (M = Fe, Ru; R = Ph, C6F5) Complexes. Inorg. Chem. 2020, 59, 9594-9604.

McNicholas, B. J.; Grubbs, R. H.; Winkler, J. R.; Gray, H. B.*; Despagnet-Ayoub, E.* Tuning the Formal Potential of Ferrocyanide over a 2.1 V Range. Chem. Sci. 2019, 10, 3623-3626.

McNicholas, B. J.; Blakemore, J. D.; Bates, C. M.; Chang, A. B.; Grubbs, R. H.*; Gray, H. B.* Electrocatalysis of CO2 Reduction in Brush Polymer Ion Gels. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 11160–11163.

Contact Information