The Engel Group at The University of Chicago

The Engel Group strives to exploit femtosecond dynamics to steer and to control excited state reactivity. We use a combination of ultrafast spectroscopy, theory, synthesis, and biophysics to approach this problem.


Revealing Nature's Designs

Nature has had 2.4 billion years to evolve and engineer excited state dynamics. From photosynthesis to vision to photoenzymes, we examine natural mechanisms to steer excited states. Our goal is to isolate and identify new design principles to control quantum dynamics.

Steering Excited State Dynamics

Electronic excited states carry enough energy to make and break chemical bonds. Photochemistry operates outside the Born-Oppenheimer regime -- thereby escaping our standard chemical intuition. We seek new strategies to steer excited states and to control their reactivity.


Seeing the Unseen

You can't engineer what you can't see. We build new spectroscopic tools to probe femtosecond dynamics of electronic excitations. In living cells, protein complexes, and small molecules, we capture how these systems evolve with unprecedented depth and specificity.

New Graduate Students   11/17/2022

Katelyn FeulingClaire JonesKeerthi ManiEmma McNesby

Welcome to Katelyn Feuling, Claire Jones, Keerthi Mani, and Emma McNesby, who are joining the group as Graduate Student Researchers.

NSF Fellowship   11/17/2022

Katelyn Feuling

Congratulations to Katelyn Feuling on receiving an NSF GRFP Fellowship.

Congratulations   8/23/2022

Lili Wang

Congratulations to Prof. Lili Wang on launching her research group at Emory University.

New Graduate Student   8/22/2022

Liv Mumma

Welcome to Liv Mumma, who is joining the group as a graduate student researcher for the summer.

Quantum Biology activities within the Engel Group

Quantum Biology

Ultrafast Spectroscopy activities within the Engel Group

Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Quantum Materials activities within the Engel Group

Quantum Materials

Photocatalysis activities within the Engel Group


Theory activities within the Engel Group


Coherent Dynamics activities within the Engel Group

Coherent Dynamics

Light Harvesting Materials activities within the Engel Group

Light Harvesting Materials

Ultrafast Chiral Response activities within the Engel Group

Ultrafast Chiral Response

Live Cell Studies activities within the Engel Group

Live Cell Studies

P. Navotnaya,* S. Sohoni,* L.T. Lloyd, S. Abdulhadi, P.-C. Ting, J.S. Higgins, and G.S. Engel, "Annihilation of Excess Excitations along Phycocyanin Rods Precedes Downhill Flow to Allophycocyanin Cores in the Phycobilisome of Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942", JPCB 126 23–29 2022.

* These authors contributed equally

J.S. Higgins, W.R. Hollingsworth, L.T. Lloyd, and G.S. Engel, "Quantum Coherence in Chemical and Photobiological Systems", Emerging Trends in Chemical Applications of Lasers, ACS Symposium Series #1398, Edited by M.R. Berman, L. Young, and H.-L. Dai, ACS Books 2021.

University of Chicago
Chemistry Department
Biophysical Sciences
Institute for Molecular Engineering
James Franck Institute
Institute for Biophysical Dynamics
Lockheed Martin