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CBE senior edges closer to the Final Frontier

Nathaniel OlsonNathaniel OlsonA fascination for space exploration might send CBE student Nate Olson on a path to the moon - at least in terms of his research.

As an undergrad, Nate took advantage of an Ohio State Undergraduate Summer 2016 Research Fellowship to investigate nanotechnology and the key role it could play in expanding humanity’s reach into space. The strong, lightweight materials, advanced electronics, and nanosensors that can be created with nanotechnology are ideal materials that could be foundational to future space endeavors such as a moon landing, the establishment of a moon colony, or even a visit to Mars.

Nate's fruitful endeavors contributed to his later success in being selected for a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF) for the 2018-19 academic year, which is extendable up for four years. This highly competitive award provides Nate with an increased stipend and the opportunity to perform research at a NASA center for ten weeks a year on his proposed research project, "Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Aerogels for High Temperature Applications."

Nate's proposal was based upon the research he conducted during the summer of 2017 at the NASA Glenn Research Center, where he had an internship. 

"I'm extremely passionate about NASA and its mission, thus I am extraordinarily excited about this opportunity," Nate said, in referring to the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF).

Nate, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall, said that the NSTRF will allow him to serve as a link between his research group at UIUC and researchers at NASA working on similar projects.  

"I am extremely thankful for all the opportunities that The Ohio State University offers, which have enabled me to achieve such great things." -Nate Olson

In addition to his NASA pursuits, last fall, Nate's poster, "Imogolite Nanotubes as a Catalyst for Biomass Conversion," won third place in Catalysis and Reaction Engineering at the AIChE Annual Meeting Student Poster Competition. The poster describes the research project he is working on in Professor Nicholas Brunelli's research group.


Nate Olson at the NASA Glenn Research CenterNate Olson at the NASA Glenn Research Center