"My Summer Research Experience," by Jake Drysdale

Jake Drysdale


Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C., founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842 with the vision that the university would become a “powerful force for good” in the world.  The Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy) shares this vision by providing undergraduate students unparalleled opportunities to learn and conduct research in places where students can make a difference in the communities they serve.  I came to Notre Dame because it is not only a place of great learning but also a place of great doing.   

At Notre Dame, I am learning and doing right now.  As a Chemistry major and Energy Studies Minor with ND Energy, I learn every day from renowned and engaged faculty. Through the Energy Studies Minor, I am offered a well-rounded mix of technical, economic, and humanitarian courses to better understand the complexities of, and possible solutions to, our energy challenge in the 21st century. As a member of the research team working with Professor Prashant Kamat, I am able to apply this knowledge through cutting-edge perovskite solar and other nanomaterials research.   

Through the generosity of the Vincent P. Slatt Endowment for Undergraduate Research in Energy Systems and Processes, I received a Slatt fellowship and was able to spend this summer working in the Kamat Lab as principal investigator on a self-cleaning cell phone screen research project and to conduct hands-on research in fabricating perovskite solar cells. My work in the Kamat Lab will continue throughout the academic year, as I continue to draft my research results for publication and work with perovskite nanomaterials for ongoing transformative solar research.  
I am truly grateful to ND Energy and the Slatt family for the gift of this opportunity to pursue my passion for researching renewable energy nanotechnologies and the privilege of being able to work with Professor Kamat this summer. 

More about Jake

Because I was lucky to be born into a Notre Dame family, I have known Notre Dame as a place of great learning and doing my entire life. My parents met and married at Notre Dame, I was baptized in the Log Chapel, and I was raised with the values of Notre Dame: faith, service, passion, purpose, effort, and attitude.  From an early age, I learned the joy of serving others.  In third grade, my parents and I travelled to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild a neighborhood with other Notre Dame alumni and the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  Working together to serve others made us closer as a community and a family.  I have always felt inspired by this spirit of Notre Dame.

I have been hiking in Glacier National Park, Montana my whole life and as a boy discovered that all the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone in less than 15 years due to climate change.  Most importantly, I learned that this is not just about glaciers -- it’s really about people.  Most of the world’s freshwater is stored in glaciers and ice sheets.  People need water.  And people will continue to need a lot more water, energy, and everything else in the future.  When my parents were born, there were 4 billion people in the world.  By the time I graduate from Notre Dame in 2020, there will be 8 billion. So one of the great technological and moral challenges of our time will be to create a sustainable home for a population that has doubled in just one generation.


Nanotechnology offers the promise of solutions.  In high school, I founded my own start-up, Nanotech Smart SignsTM that applies NASA-used PURETi nanotechnology to ordinary outdoor vinyl signs to reduce air pollution by accelerating the natural process of photocatalytic oxidation and became the youngest person in the world lab-certified in this proprietary nanotechnology.  

While I explored different college options, I quickly discovered that Notre Dame is truly the best place in the world for me to study and research my passion -- renewable energy nanotechnologies -- as an undergraduate. ND Energy and researchers at Notre Dame provide pathways to pursue this passion and more.