Graduate Students

Hailey Areheart

B.S. in Chemistry, University of South Carolina

Joined 2020

Bio: Hailey received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and minor in Biology from the University of South Carolina. During her undergraduate years, she did research in Dr. Linda Shimizu’s lab on triphenylamine macrocycles. She also maintained an internship at The Ritedose Corporation, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, working in the chemistry lab. She joined Georgia Tech in 2020 to pursue a PhD in Organic Chemistry. In the Spring of 2021, she started working in the France lab with a focus in natural product synthesis. In her free time, Hailey enjoys painting, reading novels, and swimming.

William John Berkey 

B.S. in Chemistry, Davidson College   

Joined 2021  

Bio: William received his BS in chemistry from Davidson college working for Dr. Durwin Striplin and Dr. Hanna Key. William joined the France lab in the fall of 2021 and is working in collaboration with Dr. Christopher Jones on upcycling of carbohydrates to yield furan-containing building blocks as platform chemicals and precursors to value-added fuels, materials, and products though the Renewable Bioproducts Institute Fellowship. Outside of the lab William loves to cook, exercise, and hang out with friends.  

Joshua Saito

B.S. in Biochemistry and Forensic Science, Chaminade University of Honolulu

Joined 2021

Bio: Josh completed his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Forensic Science at Chaminade University of Honolulu. After graduation, he did post-baccalaureate research at Chaminade University until joining the France Lab in Fall 2021 under the Georgia Tech Chemistry ACS Bridge program (GT-CREATER). He is studying the diversification of the homo-Nazarov reaction for further use in natural product synthesis. In his free time, Josh enjoys golfing at various golf courses, cooking, and spending time with friends.

Christian Readus

B.S. in Chemistry, Alabama A&M University

Joined 2024

Bio: Christian earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. During his time the re, he was actively involved in campus life, notably serving in an executive position for 2 years within the University’s Honors Program. In the summer of 2022, Christian participated in NSF-funded Chemistry FAST REU program at Georgia Tech in the France Lab. This experience ignited his passion for research and inspired him to pursue a PhD in Chemistry at Georgia Tech, where he currently focuses on methodology development. Outside of his academic pursuits, Christian serves as the secretary for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemist and Chemical Engineers (NoBCChE) at Georgia Tech. In his leisure time, he enjoys staying active by working out, playing basketball, and cherishing moments with his family and friends.

Frank Weiss

B.S. in Chemistry, California Baptist University

Joined 2024

Bio: Although originally from the States, Frank grew up primarily in the Netherlands. He returned to the US to attend college in Riverside, California, where he worked in the campus tutoring center and was active in his department’s chemistry club. After undergrad, he went into industry, working at Calibr at Scripps Research. While he was there, he worked in a medicinal chemistry lab led by Arnab Chatterjee and contributed to several projects including, most notably, a COVID-19 protease inhibitor. Frank worked there for a total of three years before deciding to start his graduate education at Georgia Tech in the France lab. When he isn’t in the lab, Frank enjoys spending camping, cooking, and lifting weights.

Ashley Thomason

B.S. in Chemistry, Ohio State University

Joined 2024

Bio: Ashley completed her undergraduate studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. During her time as an undergraduate, Ashley balanced her academic pursuits with her role as a student athlete on the cheerleading team. Following a gap year, during which she gained valuable experience working in the Badjic Lab at Ohio State, Ashley joined the France lab in the fall of 2023. Her research projects in the lab primarily focus on natural product synthesis. In the future, Ashley aims to pursue a career in cosmetic formulation, combining her passion for science with her interest in the cosmetic industry. Beyond her academic and research commitments, Ashley also serves as a coach for the Georgia Tech cheerleading team.

Rion Sam

B.S. in Biochemistry, Xavier University of Louisiana

Joined 2024

Bio: Rion received his B.S. in biochemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana. While at Xavier University, Rion conducted organic chemistry research with a medicinal focus on the development of S6K1 inhibitors, which is a protein kinase that is partly responsible for the proliferation of certain cancers. Rion decided to continue his research in organic chemistry and joined the France Lab in 2024 where he has both focuses on methodology and natural product total synthesis on biologically relevant molecules. Post-PhD, Rion plans to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals where he can contribute to the development of cancer therapeutics. Beyond the laboratory, Rion finds fulfillment in volunteering, staying active through workouts and basketball, and indulging in anime.

Robert Hughley

B.S. in Chemistry, Georgia College and State University M.S. in Chemical Sciences, Kennesaw State University

Joined 2024

Bio: TBA

Gard Gadvangen

B.S. in Chemistry, Georgia Tech

Joined 2024

Bio: Gard is from Sandefjord, Norway. He received his BS in chemistry from Georgia Tech, where he worked under Dr. Arduengo on nitrile oxides. Gard transitioned into the Georgia Tech Ph.D. in 2024 to continue his work with Arduengo in conjuction with Stefan France (co-advisor).  Currently, Gard has a Renewable Bioproducts Institute Fellowship to work on synthesizing solvents from biomass in a cross-College collaboration with Arduengo (Chemistry), France (Chemistry), Soper (Chemistry), and Bommarius (Chemical Engineering). In his free time, he enjoys watching tv and cooking.

Undergraduate Students

Lindsey Bryson

Bio: Lindsey is a third-year Biochemistry major at Georgia Tech. She joined the France Lab in January 2023, where she has worked on multiple projects, including a synthesis of bioactive 7,9-Dihydroxy- and 7-Keto-9-Hydroxy-8,4’–Oxyneolignans. Her current project involves acid-catalyzed cyclization. After graduation, she plans to pursue her M.S. in Chemistry at Georgia Tech. On campus, she is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and serves on the Collegiate Panhellenic Council executive committee as Recruitment Vice President. She is also a member of Order of Omega and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Russell Kirkland

Bio: Russell is a third year Biochemistry major at Georgia Tech. He joined the France lab in Fall 2023, where is currently exploring the reactions of polyhydroxyalkyl furan compounds derived from sugars. While in high school, Russell earned the rank of Eagle Scout from Boys Scouts of America. In his free time, he likes to hang out with friends, go rock climbing, and spend time outdoors.