jnathan melville


My name's Jonathan.

(But everyone calls me Jo.)

I'm a science, technology, and policy fellow in the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy.

I work on the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) team, helping to manage nearly $250 million of federal research funding for universities, national labs, and corporations across the country.

My technical interests focus on the development of novel routes for solar fuel synthesis and greening difficult-to-decarbonize industrial processes.

I completed my PhD in chemistry in 2021, studying inorganic electrochemistry with Yogi Surendranath at MIT.

My thesis work focused on the development of electrochemical methods for decarbonization of industrial processes reliant upon fossil hydrocarbons.

I also made the group website and obtained modest success running our lab Twitter as a electrochemistry meme account.

I was a proud organizer with the MIT Graduate Student Union.

In February 2018, I was one of a dozen students secretly meeting in an abandoned classroom in response to an anonymous organizing survey.

Over the next four years, we networked and organized our way into every department, building power through issue campaigns that won tangible improvements to student lives.

In April 2022, we won our NLRB unionization vote by a landslide margin of 1785–912, one of the most decisive electoral victories in graduate organizing history.

(and Bernie Sanders retweeted a picture of me.)

While at MIT, I was also a Graduate Resident Adviser at East Campus.

For four years, I served as an underpaid student advocate, mental health paraprofessional, and puzzlehunt organizer for a hall of 40 undergraduate residents.

I think they liked me, because they gave me an engraved sword when I graduated.

I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016.

While there, I worked with the Long Group on the synthesis and characterization of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for gas capture, separations, and storage.

Also, let's just say there's a reason the lab tour on the group website is a text adventure.

If you've ever read the ingredients on a can of Coke, you may have noticed the presence of a chemical called phosphoric acid.

Every molecule of food-grade phosphoric acid — along with billions of dollars of other phosphorus fine chemicals — is synthesized industrially from pure white phosphorus (P4).

Making white phosphorus is difficult, dangerous, and dirty. During my PhD, I developed a milder, safer, and cleaner route to P4 synthesis by molten-salt electrolysis.

I also studied electrochemical systems for splitting water to hydrogen, reducing nitrogen to ammonia, oxidizing methane to methanol, reducing carbon dioxide to hydrocarbons, and much more.

Also, my undergraduate lab reports have like twenty-two academic citations in peer-reviewed journals. That's normal, right?

Google Scholar | PhD Dissertation | LinkedIn

Long Group

UC Berkeley

I worked for Jeff Long for a while. His website was bad, so I made a better one. With a text adventure.

Center for Gas Separations

Department of Energy

Jeff Long also hired me to make this. So I did.

Schreier Group

UW Madison

I made this website too.

Surendranath Group


I also worked for Yogi Surendranath for a while. His website was bad, so I made a better one. With a fancy publications table, and also Tetris.

Pai Group

University of Massachusetts Medical School

I made this website for Athma Pai, then immediately stole all the formatting and structure to use for this site.

In my free time, I like to mix experimental cocktails, produce electronic music, and write florid riddles for elaborate tabletop RPG modules.

I also enjoy reading books (nonfiction and fiction) and playing games (board and video).