Serendipity fundamental to faculty fellow’s career

Ernesto Marinero

Ernesto Marinero (Photo by Vincent Walter)

02/02/2016 |
Serendipity is not only essential to scientific discovery; it has also been fundamental to Ernesto Marinero’s career.

As an El Salvadoran youngster, Marinero was given a popular science book for his 11th birthday, “Energy,” published by Time-Life. “My life’s pursuit of figuring out how things work and are often interconnected was ignited as I read that memorable book,” he says.

Inspired to pursue a career as a physicist, Marinero won a scholarship to study in Europe and chose Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, selecting a maturing solid state physics research program where industry giants worked alongside career academics. After completion of his PhD work on laser-induced transformations in matter, Marinero then headed to one of Germany’s most prestigious research organizations, the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, where he invented and co-developed pioneer laser picosecond devices for spectroscopic and photochemical applications..

After earning his first patent, Marinero met his future mentor at Stanford University, Professor Richard N. Zare, at a conference. Their common interest in the utilization of laser techniques to study the most fundamental chemical reaction: H+H2 —> H+ H2 led to Marinero moving to to California, where he established a research program that measured for the first time the quantum states of the reaction products. This program has kept Stanford students busy for more than three decades now. In the mid 1980s, Marinero moved to Silicon Valley, where he worked at the IBM Almaden Research Center, considered one of the best industrial labs in the world at the time. His expertise in information storage made him invaluable to Hitachi when it purchased IBM’s magnetic storage technology division in 2003. At Hitachi, Marinero continued his research on the synthesis of nanostructured materials and nanoscale device fabrication, including graphene-based materials and spintronics devices.

Ultimately, happenstance led him in 2010 to reconnect with Timothy Sands, a former collaborator at UC Berkeley and Bellcore. Fast forward to 2016, and Marinero, who has now been at Purdue for three years, is using his unique blend of basic research, applied research and entrepreneurial experiences to advise students and faculty.

“Since this university’s founding, Purdue has always had a societal impact, but we are now taking entrepreneurship to a new level,” says Marinero of such initiatives as the Deliberate Innovation for Faculty Fellows program, a program that he helped to create to provide guidance to Purdue innovators and entrepreneurs.

Marinero brings his nanomaterials, materials engineering and manufacturing expertise to the team, along with a passion for working with students. “I’m a big believer that this whole thing has to begin with undergraduates,” he says. “One of my life’s ambitions is to help new generations of engineers and scientists at home and abroad to share that unique privilege and joy of invention.”

– Angie Roberts
See original article at