Interested in joining the team? Send your CV and research interests to Megan at mbutala (at)

Megan M. Butala, PhD 

Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering 
mbutala (at) 

Megan grew up in southern California and completed her B.S. in Materials Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She did her graduate work at University of California, Santa Barbara with Prof. Ram Seshadri, completing her Ph.D. in Materials in 2017. She then spent two years at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, and joined the MSE family at UF in November 2019.

Between working with the awesome group members, Megan likes to cook, practice latte art, and learn to keep plants alive.

Graduate Students


Danielle Alverson

dalverson (at)

Danielle has a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arkansas (2020) and came back to UF as a graduate student following a summer of computational research experience in the MSE department in 2019.

When she’s not mastering the fundamentals of X-ray scattering and designing experiments, she likes to run, play guitar, and listen to music.





Kausturi Parui

kausturiparui (at)

Kausturi has her Bachelors and Masters in Chemistry and began her time at UF in the Chemistry department. In 2020, her interest in energy technology brought her and her analytical interests to the Butala group where she is focusing on new battery electrode materials.

When she’s not keeping an eye on all of the engineers, she can be found sipping iced coffee and watching thrillers!





Adrian (Runze Li) Lei

runzeli (at)

Adrian grew up in Guangzhou, China and completed his Bachelors in Engineering at Harbin Institute of Technology. He has experience in semiconductor research from time at the Institute of High Energy Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences and the School of Materials Science and Engineering at South China University of Technology.

He joined UF as an MSE Masters student in 2019 and began working with Megan in 2020 on identifying promising battery electrode candidates using data-driven methods.

When not learning obscure programs that Megan’s interested in, Adrian enjoys traveling, cooking, and being entertained by his pet cat.


Undergraduate Students

Bennett D. Smith

bennett.smith (at)

Bennett grew up in a suburb north of Orlando, FL where he completed the International Baccalaureate program in high school. He joined MSE at UF as an undergraduate student in 2018 and is fascinated by battery materials and how they can help us shift to renewable energy as our primary energy source.

When not creating Python solutions for the group, Bennett loves to play soccer and has been on two state-final and one national championship team.