Natalia Powers-Riggs headshot

Natalia Powers-Riggs

Assistant Professor

Full-Time Faculty


Natalia Powers-Riggs received her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, where she double majored in Chemistry and East Asian Studies. She completed her PhD at Northwestern University where she used X-ray scattering and time-resolved optical spectroscopy to study structure and photoactivity of organic assemblies. She then joined the Solution Phase Chemistry group in the PULSE Institute at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher, where she used X-ray scattering and spectroscopy to study structural and electronic changes to transition-metal catalysts immediately following photoexcitation. 

At USF, the Powers-Riggs group will explore structure and function of assembled photosynthetic mimics in order to develop design principles for complex architectures with efficient light absorption. Students will have opportunities to design and synthesize molecular building blocks, as well as use a wide range of characterization techniques to study structural assemblies and the resulting photophysics. These techniques make use of both instruments at USF and X-ray techniques at surrounding national lab facilities.

Research Areas

  • Physical organic chemistry
  • Non-covalent assembly
  • Optical spectroscopy
  • X-ray scattering and diffraction


  • Northwestern University, PhD in Chemistry, 2020
  • Wesleyan University, BA in Chemistry and East Asian Studies, 2013

Prior Experience

  • Postdoctoral Scholar, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Selected Publications

  • NE Powers-Riggs, X Zuo, RM Young, MR Wasielewski. Symmetry-breaking charge separation in a nanoscale terrylenediimide guanine-quadruplex assembly. Journal of the American Chemical Society 141 (44), 17512-17516.
  • I Schlesinger, X Zhao, NE Powers-Riggs, MR Wasielewski. Singlet fission in terrylenediimide single crystals: Competition between biexciton annihilation and free triplet exciton formation. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 125 (25), 13946-13953.
  • NE Powers-Riggs, I Schlesinger, MR Wasielewski. Correlating structural changes with the photophysics of terrylenediimide films during spontaneous annealing. Journal of Materials Chemistry C 8 (43), 15189-15198.
  • NE Powers-Riggs, X Zuo, RM Young, MR Wasielewski. Solvent independent symmetry-breaking charge separation in terrylenediimide guanine-quadruplex nanoparticles. The Journal of Chemical Physics 153 (20), 204302.