Astronauts must often live and work under frugal and unforgiving conditions. As travel to Mars becomes likely in the coming years, scientists and engineers are working to find new, innovative ways for interplanetary pioneers to both survive and thrive.
One solution is to make materials that could be used in many different applications—materials that could, for example, become flexible or rigid as needed, or that could harness the heat from astronauts’ bodies to generate electricity.
Nicholas Boynton is up for this challenge. While interning at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, a mentor there mentioned Pritzker Molecular Engineering. Boynton applied and found it was a perfect fit. Now he works at the intersection of two disciplines: polymer science and electrochemistry.
As a graduate student in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago, co-advised by Profs. Shrayesh Patel and Stuart Rowan, he’s developing functional materials that have a huge range of properties. And as a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Fellow, he’s using that knowledge to help develop materials for future space missions.
“At UChicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, we solve real-world problems by working across disciplines. We care about making an impact. If that's your goal, then this is the place for you,” Boynton said.