Nolan Peard

2020 Hertz Fellow
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Nolan Peard is interested in light-matter interactions and their applications in chemistry and quantum optics.

Graduating with dual degrees in physics and music from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nolan will pursue a PhD in applied physics at Stanford University, where he plans to undertake experiments involving X-rays, ultrafast optics, and esoteric spectroscopy techniques. He is particularly interested in the potential of optical techniques to control quantum states of molecules and their interactions, enabling fundamental understanding of chemistry that may be used to create materials and molecules with new capabilities.

An engineering intern at Draper Laboratory, he is currently working on research projects involving Faraday rotation, electromagnetically induced transparency, and the chiral-induced spin-selectivity effect. In 2018, Nolan spent seven months as a visiting researcher with the Coherent Imaging Division of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, Germany, where he worked on methods to use fluorescent photon correlations to solve the phase problem in crystallography. He previously worked in the Grossman Group at MIT on density functional theory simulations of quantum dot solids.

Nolan was born in Ft. Lewis, Washington and grew up in Medford, Oregon. In high school, he attained school-wide renown for spending his lunch periods working in the chemistry lab to isolate bismuth metal from Pepto-Bismol and forge it into a ring of power, among other self-devised experiments of questionable utility. His dream career is to be a Jedi Knight, but, until the hyperdrive is repaired, he is settling for studying quantum physics and searching for the ideal bar of chocolate.

Outside of the lab, Nolan enjoys reading and playing his cello. He has multiple lists of personal project ideas that will be started tomorrow. He is easily startled by loud noises so his natural habitat is restricted to quiet indoor locations and forested areas.

"My goal is to use advanced light sources and optical techniques to build fundamental understanding and control of matter and its properties."
– Nolan Peard

Graduate Studies

Stanford University

Undergraduate Studies

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


2015-2020, Arts Scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2019, Kelly Essay Prize, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2018-2019, Burchard Scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2015-2018, Emerson Scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Related News

May 20, 2020
The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation has announced the 2020 recipients of the Hertz Fellowship. This year’s fellowships will fund 16 researchers whose goals range from developing more effective drugs to advancing artificial intelligence to creating a carbon-neutral future.