Chemistry and Biochemistry

Monica So

Physical Chemistry/Material Science


Ph.D. Northwestern University(opens in new window), Evanston, IL
B.S. UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Research Interests

The So Lab harnesses chemical intuition to approach fundamental challenges in physics. Within this framework, we are focused on three vital areas of contemporary physics: energy transfer, charge transfer, and creating new emergent materials.


Monica So(opens in new window) is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Lantis University Chair at California State University, Chico. She earned her B.Sc. from UCLA in organic materials chemistry and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in inorganic solid-state chemistry. Her research focuses on harnessing chemical solutions for challenges in contemporary physics(opens in new window), such as energy transfer, charge transfer, and interfacial phenomena. Research in the So Lab at CSU, Chico(opens in new window) has broad environmental implications, such as co-locating electricity and vegetable growth on the same land to improve overall productivity, reducing defects in rooftop solar panels to increase their efficiency, and cleaning up water after wildfires and oil spills. Her work has resulted in 18 publications with >2000 citations(opens in new window) and over $1 million in funding from National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, ​American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund, Agriculture Research Institute, California State University (CSU) Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology, and CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology.

This research expertise is applied to her courses in integrated chemistry laboratory, solar energy devices and systems(opens in new window), and physical chemistry at CSU, Chico. Since August 2015, she has taught and mentored over 1,000 undergraduates. Her philosophy as a research mentor is to train students to develop a sense of ownership over their work, think about their science strategically, and appreciate scientific communication(opens in new window). Over 63% of her research student alumni(opens in new window) have been admitted to Ph.D. or M.D. programs across the U.S., 21% are working in healthcare services, 10% are active in applications research & development industries, and 5% are educators.

When Monica is not busy researching, teaching, or mentoring students, she is active in Women in STEM (WiS)(opens in new window) at CSU, Chico and as a CSU STEM-NET Faculty Fellow(opens in new window). As a co-founder of WiS, she helps Girl Scouts earn their STEM badges through NSF-sponsored Python coding workshops, forms mentoring pods for students and faculty in STEM via WPC-sponsored Meals with Strangers events throughout Chico, CA, and disseminates work-life integration strategies with STEM students through AS-sponsored Women in STEM Conversation Hours. As a three-term STEM-NET Faculty Fellow, she leads CSU STEM faculty through grant writing and feedback meetings and connects over 8,000 faculty with overlapping research and education interests(opens in new window) to enhance their research potential.

In her spare time, she is a runner, Yelp Elite reviewer(opens in new window), acrylic painter, embroidery enthusiast, and Chinese chef. Most of all, she enjoys spending time with her family. in new window) 


  1. Yasar-Inceoglu, O.; So, M.C.; Alavi; Z.; Meehan, K.; Anderson, N. L. “MRI: Acquisition of a Raman Spectrometer to Enable Nanoscale Multi-disciplinary Research and Education in Advanced Materials, Health, and Energy”, NSF Major Research Instrumentation, $224,983.
  2. So, M.C., Allendorf, M. D. “Nanofabrication of Metal-Organic Graphene Analogues for Electronic Device Applications”, Department of Energy Visiting Faculty Award, $54,000.
  3. So, M.C. “Atomic Force Microscopy: An Important Tool for Nano-imaging.” Student Learning Fee 2017, $23,980.
  4. So, M.C., Liu, Y.Y. “Contaminant-Selective Sponges for Removal of Ocean Toxins”, COAST Grant Development Program, $19,020.
  5. So, M.C. “Sponges for Decontaminating Water with Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals & Carcinogens”, CSUPERB New Investigator Grant, $15,000.
  6. So, M.C. Critical Upgrades for an Outdated X-ray Diffractometer.” Student Learning Fee, $10,000.
  7. So, M.C. “LEAPS-MPS: Tunable Hybrid Materials for Studying Charge Transport”, NSF, 2021, $250,000.
  8. So, M.C. “Increasing Interdisciplinary Collaboration within CSU Chico & Across CSU Campuses", CSU Chancellor's Office, $17,108.
  9. So, M.C. "“Programmable Nanosponges for Water Decontamination", Lantis Award University Foundation, $40,000.
  10. So, M. C. “Tunable Porous Materials for Separation of Petroleum-Relevant Products”, ACS PRF, 2022, $70,000.
  11. So, M.C.Meehan, K. “Assessment of Lettuce Responses to Lighting using Semi-Transparent Agrivoltaics", Agricultural Research Institute, $249,999
  12. So, M. C.; Wan, L.; Meehan, K.; Dirlam, P.  “RENEW: Broadening Accessibility & Training To Emerging Researchers for Innovative Energy Storage (BATTERIES)”, Department of Energy, 2023, $2,250,000.


  1. Cash, R.*; Penick, J. R.*; Todd, C. F.*; So, M. C., Escaping the Environmental Crises: Online Escape Rooms for Evaluating Student Data Analysis Skills(opens in new window)J. Chem. Educ., 2023, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.3c00339.
  2. Todd, C.*; Melchor Ceballos, C.*; So, M. C. Synthesis, Fabrication, and Characterization of Metal-Organic Frameworks for Water Decontamination: An Integrated Laboratory Experience(opens in new window)J. Chem. Educ., 202299(6), 2392-2398.
  3. Yoon, S.*; Talin, A. A.; Stavila, V.; Mroz, A. M.; Bennett, T. D.; He, Y.; Keen, D.A.; Hendon, C. H.;  Allendorf, M. D.; So, M. C. "From n- to p‑Type Material: Effect of Metal Ion on Charge Transport in Metal−Organic Materials(opens in new window)." ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. 2021, Accepted.
  4. Calvo, J. J.*; Angel, S. M.*; So, M. C. "Charge Transport in Metal-Organic Frameworks for Electronics Applications​(opens in new window)." APL Mater. 20208(5), 050901.
  5. So M.C., Yoon S.W., Mackie N.D. (2019). "Strategies for Improving Solar Energy Conversion: Nanostructured Materials and Processing Techniques." in Atesin T., Bashir S., Liu J. (eds) Nanostructured Materials for Next-Generation Energy Storage and Conversion.  Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp. 111-135.
  6. Yoon, S.*; Calvo, J. J.*;  So, M.C.  Removal of Acid Orange 7 from Aqueous Solution by Metal-Organic Frameworks. (opens in new window)Crystals,  2019, 9(1), 17. 
  7. Cherrette, V. L.*; Hutcherson, C. J.*; Barnett, J. L.*;  So, M. C. Fabrication and Characterization of Perovskite Solar Cells: An Integrated Laboratory Experience​(opens in new window)J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95, 631–635. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00299.
  8. Hajimorad, M.; Alhloul, A.; ​Mustafa, H.; So, M.C.; Oswal, H. V.  Application of polypyrrole-based selective electrodes in electrochemical impedance spectroscopy to determine nitrate concentration(opens in new window)Sensors IEEE2016, DOI: 10.1109/ICSENS.2016.7808592(opens in new window)
  9. Barnett, J. L.; Cherrette, V. L.; Hutcherson, C. J.; So, M. C.Effects of Solution-Based Fabrication Conditions on Morphology of Lead Halide Perovskite Thin Film Solar Cells​.(opens in new window)  Adv. Mater. Sci. Eng.2016, DOI: 10.1155/2016/4126163.
  10. Park, H. J.^,  So, M. C.^; ​Gosztola, D. J.; Wiederrecht, G. P.; Emery, J.; Martinson, A. B. F.; Er, S.; Wilmer, C. E.; Vermeulen, N. E.; Aspuru-Guzik, A.; Stoddart, J. F.; Farha, O.K.; Hupp, J. T.  Layer-by-Layer Assembled Films of Perylene Diimide- and Squaraine-Containing Metal-Organic Framework-like Materials: Solar Energy Capture and Directional Energy Transfer.(opens in new window)  ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces20168, 24983. (^ = equal contribution)
  11. Beyzavi, M. H.; Vermeulen, N. A.;  So, M. C.; Zhang, K.; Kung, C.W.; Hupp, J. T.; Farha, O. K. " Liquid-phase epitaxially grown metal-organic framework thin films for efficient tandem catalysis through site-isolation of catalytic centers(opens in new window)."  ChemPlusChem., 2016, 81, 708.
  12. Hod, I.; Deria, P.; Bury, W.; Mondloch, J.; Kung, C-W.;  So, M. C.; Farha, O.; Hupp, J. T. “ A Porous, Proton Relaying, Metal-Organic Framework Material that Accelerates Electrochemical H2 Evolution(opens in new window)."  Nature Commun., 20156, 8304. 
  13. So, M. C.; Wiederrecht, G.; Mondloch, J.; Farha, O. K.; Hupp, J. T. "Metal–organic framework materials for light-harvesting and energy transfer." Chem. Commun ., 2015, 51, 3501-3510.
  14. So, M.; Beyzavi, H.; Sawhney, R.*; Shekhah, O.; Eddaoudi, M.; Al-Juaid, S. S.; Farha, O. K.; Hupp, J. T. “Post-Assembly Transformations of Porphyrin-Containing Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) Films Fabricated via Automated Layer-by-Layer Coordination,” Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 85-88.
  15. Hod, I.; Bury, W.; Karlin, D. M.; Deria, P.; Kung, C. W.; Katz, M. J.; So, M.; Klahr, B.; Jin, D.;Chung, Y. W.; Odom, T. W.; Farha, O. K.; Hupp, J. T. “Directed Growth of Electroactive Metal-Organic Framework Thin Films Using Electrophoretic Deposition.” Adv. Mater., 2014, 26, 6295-6300.
  16. Nguyen, H. G. T.; Schweitzer, N. M.; Chang, C., Drake, T. L.; So, M.; Stair, P. C.; Farha, Omar K.; Hupp, J. T., Nguyen, S. T., “Vanadium-node-functionalized UiO-66: a thermally stable MOFsupported catalyst for the gas-phase oxidative dehydrogenation of cyclohexene,” ACS Catal., 2014, 4, 2496.
  17. So, M.; Jin, S.; Wiederrecht, G. P.; Farha, O. K.; Hupp, J. T. J. “Layer-by-Layer Fabrication of Oriented Porous Thin Films Based on Porphyrin-Containing Metal-Organic Frameworks,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135,15698.
  18. Son, H-J.; Jin, S.; Patwardhan, S.; Wezenburg, S.; Jeong, N. C.; So, M.; Wilmer, C.; Snurr, R. Q.; Wiederrecht, G.; Farha, O. K.; Hupp, J. T. “Light-Harvesting and Ultrafast Energy Migration in Porphyrin-Based Metal-Organic Frameworks,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 862-869.
  19. Tassone, C. J. Ayzner, A. L. Kennedy, R. D.; Halim, M.; So, M.; Rubin, Y.; Tolbert, S. H.; Schwartz, B. J. “Using Pentaarylfullerenes to Understand Network Formation in Conjugated Polymer-Based Bulk-Heterojunction Solar Cells,” J. Phys. Chem. C., 2011, 115 (45), 22563-22571.
Portrait of Monica So