Meet Amanda Preske, PhD
Yes, me! I highlight scientists on the regular so today I'll share my story.
I've always loved science and art (and unbeknownst to me, entrepreneurship). I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology to major in chemistry and took night art classes. While at RIT, I developed a love for materials chemistry and during my tenure there worked at Xerox developing polymer solar cells and at RIT with carbon nanotubes.
After waffling back and forth about grad school, the market crash of 2008 made me realize that finding a job in my field with just a BS was going to be very difficult. Then, I saw a lecture by Todd Krauss where he talked about his work with carbon nanotubes and semiconductor nanocrystals and I knew I had to get into the University of Rochester to work with him.
Once at the UR, I got into semiconductor nanocrystals, specifically those of lead chalcogenides (a fancy way of saying lead bonded to elements like S, Se, and Te). What drew me to them was their quantum properties: basically, the way they are changes based on how large they are. This is unheard of in normal materials systems; imagine if salt tasted differently because it was smaller or larger, or if things changed color just because they were split in half.
I published a handful of papers, helped others using my nanocrystals (including some actual devices that capitalized on their unique properties, and I got to put my crystals into a synchrotron!), and presented my research at several conferences. I defended my PhD thesis in 2016 and have been an artist ever since.
Wait, what? Haha! For the entire time I was in college and graduate school, I was still operating my handmade jewelry business that I had created in high school. At RIT, I discovered my love of working with circuit boards to create jewelry. By the time I was wrapping up my PhD research, my business was on track to be a viable career option, so I took the leap to create a custom career that combines my love of science, art, and business.
About the photo: You can see my reflection on one of our gloveboxes, which were used to store or use materials that were sensitive to oxygen and needed to be under nitrogen.
National Harbor, MD