Prize Recipient

James D. Gaynor
University of California, Berkeley


"For the experimental development and theoretical interpretation of Fourier-transform multidimensional, electronic-vibrational spectroscopy to directly measure ultrafast vibronic phenomena in photo-excited molecules in the condensed phase, leading to new insights into electron and proton transfer."


James D. Gaynor was raised in Vancouver, Washington, USA. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry (minors: Physics, Math) in 2014 from the University of Portland. Through the mentorship of Professors Steven Mayer and Shannon Mayer at the University of Portland, he cultivated a curiosity for the nature of light-matter interactions explorable with pulsed laser spectroscopies. As a senior undergrad, James was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar and awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to pursue his doctoral research. As a graduate student at the University of Washington in Professor Munira Khalil’s lab, he has contributed methods for directly measuring vibronic couplings in molecules. In 2019, James earned his Ph.D. for experimental and theoretical developments in multidimensional electronic-vibrational (EV) spectroscopy using new broadband femtosecond UV and mid-IR light sources. This includes the first demonstration of 3D EV spectroscopy and its use to discover excited state vibronic coherences mediating femtosecond energy transfer in a solar cell dye molecule. His work has been recognized internationally, including by the OSA’s 2016 Siegman School on Lasers and the 2018 Emil Wolf Award. Now at U.C. Berkeley as an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow, James is working with Professors Stephen Leone and Dan Neumark at the frontiers of tabletop attosecond X-ray pulse generation and developing new mixed-frequency nonlinear spectroscopies of atoms, molecules, and materials.

Selection Committee:

Brian Washburn (Chair), Sue Dexheimer, Anne Kelley