People‎ > ‎

1. Current Members


Research Associates/Pos-Docs

Dr. Dejun Chen, Assistant Professor 

BS. 2006, PhD, 2012 in Chemistry, Xiamen University, China

Dejun was an exchange PhD student from Professor Shi-Gang Sun's lab at Xiamen University in the Group from October 2009 to April 2012, that was partially supported by a two-year CSC (Chinese Scholar Council) scholarship. He started his current post-doc position in August 2012 working on in situ spectroelectrochemistry (SEIRAS and SERS) and Pt-based electrocatalysts for electrooxidation of small organic molecules and oxygen reduction. He started his appointment of teaching assistant professor in the Environmental Metrology & Policy Graduate Program in Fall 2018.



Undergraduate Students

Biochemistry Major/Pre-med, Col’ 2023


Lauren joined the Tong lab in Fall 2020 as an incoming freshman, and she works under Rongfeng studying atomically precise gold nanoclusters bound by organoselenate ligands. Outside of the lab, Lauren is an EMT and a tutor in the Georgetown University Writing Center. She is also an active member of the Georgetown

University Signs Club, whose mission is to spread literacy and awareness of American sign language and deaf culture, and of the Georgetown University Contemporary Choir. She is originally from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, but now lives with her family to a seaside town in Maine called Castine, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her three dogs.



Abby Kirk

Biochemistry Major/Pre-med, Col' 2023.

In addition to majoring in biochemistry, Abby is planning to minor in Justice and Peace Studies. She joined TongLab in spring 2020 and works with Rongfeng and Nick on learning atomically precise gold clusters research. She’s from Amherst, NH but went to boarding school in Groton, MA. Outside of lab, she is an EMT, an operations assistant at a Massachusetts community hospital, an advocate for Hoyas for Choice, and a “Women in STEM” mentor for an independent student-run tutoring business. She also loves running, cooking and baking with friends, soapy TV shows, and her dog, Clover.

Graduate Students

Safia Jilani
BS (2013) in chemistry from Dominican University, River Forest, IL.

Safia joined the group in Fall 2014, She has won an Espencheid Fellowship for Summer 2015 because she passed her Phase I exams on her first attempt. Her research focuses on developing electrocatalysts that can have a better ability in breaking the C-C bond in ethanol. She has many probing questions, which is good. Moreover, Safia brings a lot of smiles and giggles to the lab.


Rongfeng Zheng
BS (2012) and MS (2015) in chemistry from Jilin University, China.

Rongfeng joined the group in Fall 2015. Before coming to Georgetown, Rongfeng has already co-authored three papers, one of which appeared in Langmuir and entitled "Syntheses and characterization of nearly monodispersed, size-tunable silver nanoparticles over a wide range of 7-200nm by tannic acid reduction". Her research project is on synthesis and characterization of organo-chalcognate stabilized metal nanoparticles.





BS (2017) in chemistry from St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA.

Kaitlyn joined the lab in Fall 2017. Her current project focuses on using the potential oscillations that occur during the Formic acid electro-oxidation on palladium electrode to understand the details of its reaction mechanism.










BS (2020) in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics from Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA.  

During her time at Shenandoah University, she served as a teaching assistant for General Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis courses. She carried out independent original research under the tutelage of Dr. Diep Ca and her presented her results in a poster presentation at the PITTCON 2018. 

Rachel jointed the TongLab in December 2020 and is proud and honored to be the newest group member. In collaboration with Dr. Tom Allison from NIST, Her research focuses on developing surface reactivity indexes such as Fukui Functions in the framework of density functional theory and applying them to electrocatalysis for clean energy generation and green house gases mitigation. 

Rachel is an avid runner who has run seven half-marathons so far, and enjoys going to the gym and crochets in her free time.