Smitha Pillai

PSC 202
TEMPE Campus


Smitha Pillai is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University where her focus has been teaching general organic chemistry sequence. She obtained her Master’s degree in organic chemistry at Ferguson College, University of Pune, India where she taught organic chemistry for 3 years. She completed her Ph. D in organic chemistry with Professor Ana Moore at Arizona State University where her research was focused on artificial photosynthesis and here expertise was synthesis of carotenoids, porphyrins and pthalocyanins. After completing her Ph.D she was Visiting Professor at Whitman college, WA teaching organic as well as general chemistry. Before joining Arizona State university as lecturer, she worked as Post doc with Professor Devens Gust and focused on synthesis of deuterated carotenoid-porphyrin-fullerene triad, which would be further used in the study of quantum effects of magnetoreception. She is proud mother and loves to cook and spend time with her family.


Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2011

Research Interests

Design and synthesis of artificial light harvesting molecules such as carotenoid pigments covalently attached to tetrapyrrole chromophores and their role in non-photochemical quenching. Developing high oxidation potential porphyrin dyes for water oxidation.


  • Christain Kerpal, Sabine Richert, Jonathan G. Storey, Smitha Pillai, Paul A. Liddell, Devens Gust, Stuart R. Mackenzie, P. J. Hore & Christiane R. Timmel. Chemical compass behaviour at microtesla magnetic fields strengthens the radical pair hypothesis of avian magnetoreception. Nature Communications.2019,10(1), 1-7.
  • Junming Ho, Elizabeth Kish, Dalvin D Méndez-Hernández, Katherine WongCarter, Smitha Pillai, Gerdenis Kodis, Jens Niklas, Oleg G Poluektov, Devens Gust, Thomas A Moore, Ana L Moore, Victor S. Batista, Bruno Robert. Triplet-Triplet Energy Transfer in Artificial and Natural Photosynthetic Antennas. From Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017, 114(28), E5513-E5521.
  • Smitha Pillai, Janneke Ravensbergen, Antaeres Antoniuk-Pablant, Benjamin D. Sherman, Rienk van Grondelle, Raul N. Frese, Thomas A. Moore, Devens Gust, Ana L. Moore, John T.M. Kennis. Carotenoids as electron or excited-state energy donors in artificial photosynthesis: an ultrafast investigation of a carotenoporphyrin and a carotenofullerene dyad. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2013, 15(13), 4775-4784.
  • Miroslav Kloz, Smitha Pillai, Gerdenis Kodis, Devens Gust, Thomas A. Moore, Ana L. Moore, Rienk van Grondelle, John T.M. Kennis. New light-harvesting roles of hot and forbidden carotenoid states in artificial photosynthetic constructs. Chemical Science 2012,3(6), 2052-2061.
  • Liao, P.N, Smitha Pillai, Kloz, M., Gust, D., Moore, A. L., Moore, T. A., Kennis, J. T. M., van Grondelle, R., Walla, P. J. (2011) On the role of excitonic interactions in carotenoidphthalocyanine dyads and implications for photosynthetic regulation. Photosynthesis Research 2012, 111(1-2), 237-243.
  • Pen-Nan Liao, , Smitha Pillai, Devens Gust, Thomas A. Moore, Ana L. Moore, and Peter J. Walla. Two-Photon study on the electronic interactions between the first excited singlet states in carotenoid-tetrapyrrole dyads. J. Phys. Chem .A 2011, 115(16), 4082-4091.
  • Miroslav Kloz, Smitha Pillai, Gerdenis Kodis, Devens Gust, Thomas A. Moore, Ana L. Moore, Rienk van Grondelle, John T.M. Kennis. Carotenoid photoprotection in artificial photosynthetic antennas. J. Am. Chem. Soc 2011,133(18), 7007-7015.
  • Benjamin D. Sherman, Smitha Pillai, Gerdenis Kodis, Jesse Bergkamp, Thomas E. Mallouk, Devens Gust, Thomas A. Moore, and Ana L. Moore. A Porphyrin Stabilized Iridium Oxide Water Oxidation Catalyst. Canadian Journal of Chemistry 2011, 89(2), 152-157.
  • Rudi Berera, Ivo H. M. van Stokkum, Gerdenis Kodis, Amy E. Keirstead, Smitha Pillai, Christian Herrero, Rodrigo E. Palacios, Mikas Vengris, Rienk van Grondelle, Devens Gust, Thomas A.Moore, Ana L. Moore, and John T. M. Kennis. Energy transfer, excited-state deactivation, and exciplex formation in artificial caroteno-phthalocyanine light-harvesting antennas. J. Phys. Chem. B 2007, 111(24), 6868-6877.

Book Chapter

  • I.H.M. van Stokkum, J. Ravensbergen, J.J. Snellenburg, R. van Grondelle, Smitha. Pillai, T.A. Moore, D. Gust, A.L. Moore, J.T.M. Kennis. Chapter Six- Resolving Energy and Electron Transfer Processes in Dyads With the Help of Global and Target Analysis, Artificial Photosynthesis, 179, 2016 (169–192). 


Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 234General Organic Chemistry II
CHM 237Gen Organic Chemistry Lab I
CHM 238Gen Organic Chemistry Lab II
Summer 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 233General Organic Chemistry I
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 233General Organic Chemistry I
Summer 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 233General Organic Chemistry I
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 233General Organic Chemistry I
CHM 234General Organic Chemistry II