Principal Investigator

My research interests are in bioinorganic chemistry and metallobiochemistry with an emphasis on elucidating roles of metal ions in catalysis by metalloenzymes, as well as processes by which microbes acquire metal ions they need to grow. We are currently focusing on the biosynthesis of siderophores in regards to microbial iron acquisition, with a focus on chirality in biosynthesis and chirality of the Fe(III)-siderophores; the role of haloperoxidases in disruption of microbial quorum sensing, as well as in cryptic halogenation reactions; the design of catechol compounds for wet adhesion; and the role of microbial peroxidases in lignin disassembly.

Graduate Students

I study novel siderophores containing the C-diazeniumdiolate binding ligand. My work centers around the characterization of these compounds, as well as their photochemistry. 

My research also includes the synthesis and surface force analysis of bio-inspired wet adhesive compounds. 

Undergraduate Students


Undergraduate Students

Mia Anderson

I have worked as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Butler’s lab for two full years and am currently attending my final year to earn a B.S. in biochemistry through the chemistry department at UCSB. My projects have included synthesizing derivatives of siderophores for wet adhesion purposes and conducting genomic studies to determine the genes responsible for siderophore production in bacteria. I hope to continue research after graduating and plan to attend graduate school after enjoying a year off of hiking and traveling. 

Nick Higdon

Currently, Graduate Student in Chemistry at Caltech

Postdoctoral Researchers

Katherine Barbeau, Ph.D.

Currently, Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego


Yusai Ito, Ph.D.

Currently, Associate Professor, Laboratory of Food Hygiene, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Kyoritsu Women’s University, Tokyo, Japan

Clare Kimblin, Ph.D.

Currently, Senior Scientist, Special Technologies Laboratory within National Security Technologies

Frithjof Kuepper, Ph.D.

Currently, Professor and Chair in Marine Biodiversity, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Kathleen M. Ledyard, Ph.D.

Currently, Laboratory Manager in Chemistry at Harvard University

Rose Theisen, Ph.D.

Currently, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Graduate Students

Jeffrey Carmichael, Ph.D. '21

My research is on the structural elucidation of novel siderophores found through genome mining, and the investigation of unique chemical processes carried out by siderophores either in their apo form or when bound to various metals.

Jayme N. Carter-Franklin, Ph.D. '03

Currently, Senior Scientist at Genentech Roche

in Pharma Technical Development, working on Antibody Drug Conjugates and New Molecular Formats.

Melissa J. Clague, Ph.D. '94

Currently, Senior Research Scientist, Analytical Development, Bioproduct Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Eli Lilly and Co.

Julia M. Gauglitz (Vraspir), Ph.D. '11

Formerly, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA

Currently, carrying out mass spectrometry research at UCSD

T. Yong-Jin Han, Ph.D. '02

Currently, Group Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Functional Material Synthesis & Integration Group, Chemical Sciences Division, Physical and Life Sciences Directorate

Cliff Hardy

My research focuses on predicting and characterizing siderophores with unusual characteristics through a genome mining approach.

Matthew Hirschey, Ph.D. '06

Currently, Associate Professor at Duke University

Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition and Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

Pamela D. Holt, Ph.D. '97

Currently, Lecturer, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and School of Environmental Science and Engineering at Shandong University, China

Akira Inishi, Ph.D. '08

Currently, Senior Analytical Scientist, Rohto Pharmaceutical Co., Osaka, Japan

Aneta Jelowicki, PhD

My work explores the form-function relationship of iterative non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) involved in siderophore biosynthesis through cloning and site-directed mutagenesis. I am also isolating and characterizing bacterial siderophores predicted through genome mining techniques.

Jens-Uwe Kuhn, Ph.D. '09

Currently, Chair and Professor, Chemistry, Santa Barbara City College

Robert Lewis

Robert is an organic chemist in a bioinorganic laboratory. His research has focused on structure elucidation of siderophores and on the synthesis of siderophore analogues as small molecule models to further understand mussel foot protein adhesion on wet surfaces. He also enjoys talking in the third person apparently.

Greg Maier

I’m interested in understanding how mussel foot proteins adhere to surfaces underwater and how to apply what we learn to synthetic adhesives.  I synthesize small molecule models of mussel foot proteins to understand the role of lysine in adhesion.  Additionally, I’m tracking oxidation kinetics of modified catechol in an effort to promote adhesion at physiologically relevant conditions.

Christina Makris

My research is centered around the newly identified C-diazeniumdiolate Fe(III) ligand. Guided by genomics, I am characterizing new microbial siderophores which incorporate this ligand and investigating their unique photoreactivity and biosynthesis. 

Jessica D. Martin, Ph.D. '06

Currently, Associate Dean and Professor, Chemistry, Northeastern State University, OK

Jennifer S. Martinez, Ph.D. '02

Currently, CoDeputy Director, Institute for Materials Science and Senior Scientist at Los Alamos National laboratory

Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies and Soft, Biological and Composite Nanomaterials


Zachary Reitz

My work focuses on the isolation and structural characterization of bacterial siderophores predicted using genome mining techniques. I am interested in bioinformatics, NRPS-based biosynthesis, the evolution of siderophores.

Moriah Sandy, Ph.D. '11

Currently, Research Educator, Departments of Chemistry and Biology, University of Texas, Austin

Helena S. Soedjak, Ph.D. '91

Currently, Senior Director Quality Assurance and Compliance, Dairy Farmers of America.

Richard A. Tschirret-Guth, Ph.D. '96

Currently, Director, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics and Drug Metabolism at Merck

Jerrylaine V. Walker, Ph.D. '98

Currently, Technical Advisor, Conley Rose Intellectual Property Law

Tsai-Luen Yu

I am currently working on siderophore production by shallow marine hydrothermal heterotrophic and elemental sulfur-reducing bacteria under aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Guangping Zhang, Ph.D. '99

Currently, Senior Principal Chemist, at Medtronic Diabetes in Northridge, CA

Visiting Researchers

Federico Rosconi

PhD 2013;Currently, Research Assistant, Instituto de Investigaciones Biologicas Clemente Estable, Montevideo, Uruguay



ALUMNI Undergraduates a

Mateo Santizo, 2014; Cloning and expression of Vibrio harveyi esterases

Khrista DeLucci, 2014; Chiral amino acid analysis in different bacterial sources of amphibactins

Amanda Henry, 2013; Biosynthesis of siderophores-Cloning NRPS enzymes

Laura Jacoby, 2013; Characterization of marinobactin natural products

Eric Rinehart, 2013; Synthesis of Trichrysobactin

Yang Yang Shi, 2011-2012; Shewanella siderophore production (UCSB URCA Fellowship)

ALUMNI Undergraduates b

Austin Wang, 2009; Microbial siderophore production

Jason Klima, 2008; Siderophore investigations (As of 2013: Graduate student at the University of Washington)

Nicholas Batara, 2008-2009; Siderophore investigations (As of 2011: Graduate student at Caltech)

Tania Darnton, 2007-2008; Siderophore characterization in Shewanella, UCSB RISE Research Fellowship (As of 2011: Graduate Student at Caltech)

Harris Ken-Ming Liu, 2007-2009; Siderophores, CEBIC Summer Fellowship (As of 2010: Graduate Student at M.I.T)

ALUMNI Undergraduates c

Leah Silverstein, Summer 2006, Siderophores (CEBIC Summer Fellowship; Princeton University Student)

Janine Boucher, 2006, Isolation of New Siderophores

Yasuhide Nakamura, 2006, Synthesis of Amphiphilic Siderophores

Carey Batha, 2005, Isolation and Characterization of Siderophores

Dena Bodzin, Summer 2004, (CEBIC Summer Fellowship; Harvey Mudd Student)