The McCusker Group

Our group is interested in the physical and photophysical properties of transition metal complexes. Our approach relies on a confluence of synthetic chemistry, a cornucopia of physical techniques ranging from magnetism to femtosecond time-resolved spectroscopy, and high-level theory. The simultaneous examination of chemical problems on all three of these fronts places us in a unique position to explore the physical chemistry of inorganic compounds.


Check out our latest paper in JACS on the development of a Co(III) spectrochemical series to study the ligand field strength of commonly employed ligands to induce charge-transfer states in low-spin, d6 systems. To read more, click HERE!

Check out our newest paper in Faraday Discussions on using vibronic coherence to identify reaction coordinates for ultrafast excited-states dynamics of transition metal chromophores!

Congratulations to the 2022 chemistry graduates! Jonathan Yarranton walked at commencement today graduating with his Ph.D. in chemistry! Congratulations on all your hard work!

*Jonathan Yarranton, top row in the middle

Congratulations to Bekah for successfully passing her 2nd year oral exam! Enjoy your accomplishment!

Check out our newest paper in Nature Chemistry investigating the effect of ion-pairing on ground- and excited-state charge distribution in Iridium(III) polypyridyl complexes using using Time-Resolved dielectric loss spectroscopy!

Congratulations to Atanu for successfully passing his 2nd Year Oral Examination! Time to relax and enjoy your accomplishment!...Then back to Science!

Check out our new paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on using a modular approach of strong-field carbenes and phenanthroline to tune excited-state properties of Iron(II) polypyridyls! You can read the full article here!

We'd like to welcome Michael Alowakennu as the newest member of the McCusker Group! Let's do some science!

Our new paper using optical and infrared spectroelectrochemistry to investigate ruthenium(II) cyano-substituted bipyridine complexes is out now in Inorganic Chemistry! Click here to read this new report!

We'd like to officially welcome Bekah Bowers and Atanu Ghosh to the McCusker group!


Our report on using ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy to address questions in ligand-field theory was featured in a virtual issue of Inorganic Chemistry highlighting the impact of modern spectroscopy in inorganic chemistry! To read our original report click here!

Our new communication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society showing electron transfer from the lowest-energy ligand-field state of [Fe(tren(py)3)]2+, a common iron(II) chormophore, is now online! In this paper, the observation of electron transfer from the ligand-field state shows that these types of complexes can engage in photoinduced redox reactions with organic substrates. You can read the new article here!

A new News and Views article has been published in Nature Chemistry highlighting our recent paper using vibrational coherence and ligand design to control ultrafast dynamics in iron(II) polypyridyls to extend charge transfer lifetimes! You can read the new article here!

A highlight of our recent paper on using ligand design to control ultrafast dynamics in iron(II) polypyridyls was just published in Nature Reviews Chemistry!  To read the original paper click here and to read the new highlight article click here.

A perspective article was published in Nature Reviews Chemistry today on Exploiting chemistry and molecular systems for quantum information science! The link for the article is below:
Perspective Article

Congratulations to our boss, Prof. James McCusker, on winning the Royal Society of Chemistry 2020 Chemical Dynamics Award! To read more about the award and his interview by RSC click here.

Our new paper on using strategic ligand design and excited-state coherence with caged iron(II) polpyridyls to control ultrafast dynamics is online now at Nature! Check it out at the link below:

Nature Article

Our paper was also a featured article by the College of Natural Science, MSU Today, and Research@MSU!

Our new paper on the effect of solvent on the high-spin to low-spin conversion in [Fe(bpy)3]2+ is online now at Chemical Science! Check it out at the link below:

DOI: 10.1039/D0SC01506G

Our new paper on the influence of electrolyte composition on ultrafast interfacial electron transfer in iron-sensitized solar cells is online now! Check it out at the link below:

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.9b09404

We would like to welcome the newest member of our group, Jyun Lien!

Our paper on the use of ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy to address the spin-state of an iron(II) ligand-field excited-state is out now! Check it out at the link below:

DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b01063

Hayden Beissel succesfully passed his 2nd year oral examination! Now for some well deserved relaxation before getting back to his science!

Shuxian Li walked at commencement today graduating with her Ph.D in chemistry! Congratulations on all your hard work!
*Shuxian is pictured third from the left in the front row

Bryan, Sara, and Jon attended the ACS Orlando National Meeting and gave talks in inorganic spectroscopy and synthesis!! Phenomenal work you three! Glad to have you back!

Matt attended the BioLEC workshop at Princeton University and presented his current research with iron(II) polypyridyls

Jim's new paper on how the primogenic effect plays an important role in electron transfer reactions of  transition metal chromophores is out now! Click the DOI below for a link to the paper or the URL for a link to a related article in MSU today:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9104


The McCusker Group is proud to be part of BioLEC, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center established on August 1, 2018 involving researchers from Princeton University, MIT, North Carolina State, Arizona State, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory (and, of course, Michigan State). The Center is focused on the development of bio-inspired approaches for using light in synthetic chemistry. Information about the science being carried out through BioLEC can be found at or by clicking the picture below.


Monica and Sara's variable temperature ultrafast spectroscopy paper is out in Chemical Science! Check it out at the link below:

DOI: 10.1039/C8SC04025G


Katy Humphries and Sam Brineman have officially joined the McCusker group! Welcome to the group guys!


Our paper on ultrafast vibrational dynamics in Ru-bpy-CN is out now! Check it out at the link below:

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b06197


Website Updated: 7/6/2022