Alumna Profile: Nancy Eisenmenger, Ph.D. 2014

Monday, June 4, 2018

Nancy is a Materials Researcher in the Polymers R&D group at Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation near Portland, Oregon.

Nancy studied Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College, earning a BS with high distinction and departmental honors, and interning with the Idaho National Laboratory and Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. Nancy completed a PhD in Materials Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara with an NSF Fellowship and a Chancellor's Fellowship. She was advised by Prof. Chabinyc and co-advised by Prof. Fredrickson (ChemE) and Prof. Ganesan (UT Austin). Her dissertation included both experimental and computational work exploring the intricate device physics of organic and hybrid solar cells. After graduate school, Nancy accepted a position as a Research Scientist with DSM, a Dutch materials supplier, in the Netherlands. She developed expertise in a wide portfolio of polymers used in a broad range of applications as well as related characterization and processing techniques. While living in the Netherlands, Nancy summited Prutas in Durmitor, Montenegro, bouldered at Fontainebleau, France, and traveled extensively in Europe, covering 15 counties. The primary accomplishment from all this, however, was the experience of living abroad itself. Working and living in the Netherlands expanded Nancy's perspective. Interfacing with an international research department sharpened her skills as a researcher and immersing herself in another culture resulted in deeper introspection on both a personal and cultural level.

After three years with the DSM Materials Science Center, Nancy joined Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation near Portland, Oregon as a Materials Researcher. As in her graduate work, Nancy uses a combination of experimental and computational techniques to elucidate materials systems; however, her current work involves different polymers and applications. Currently, she researches structure-property-processing relationships in materials used for Nike footwear, especially focusing on Nike Air shoe soles. Nancy particularly enjoys working in a cutting-edge industry R&D environment because of the multidisciplinary nature of the work and the inspiration that derives from the inherently close connection between research and immediate business applications.

Nancy would highly recommend that future graduate students pursue research opportunities abroad. Postdoc positions, for example, lend themselves nicely to this end. Nancy also advises future graduate students to venture outside the bubble. Graduate school and academia in general can become an all-encompassing bubble: a ready-made microcosm of work, social life, and home. Finding ways to connect to life and people outside of the bubble is beneficial for richer experiences and more balanced perspectives. Sometimes you have to define your own priorities in life and build your own career path.

In addition to her love of traveling, Nancy has a long-standing love of rock-climbing. Whether in a gym or outdoors, Nancy challenges her fear of heights and technical skills on the rock face. Climbing offers not just physical exercise but also a new kinesthetic puzzle to be solved on each route!

Photo Caption: Nancy climbing in Santa Barbara.

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