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Northwest Missouri State University

Student Spotlight

May 2, 2014

First graduate of nanoscale program thrives on research

By Rachel Sielaff, media relations assistant

Jay Taylor began his academic career on the Northwest Missouri State University campus as a Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing student. Five years later he is the University’s first nanoscale science graduate.

Taylor, a Kansas City native, came to the Missouri Academy in the fall of 2009 as a high school junior. That decision led to his first research opportunity.

“Dr. Cleo Samudzi, dean of the Missouri Academy, set me up with some good opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had,” Taylor said. “He arranged for me to participate in a research program during the summer of 2010 at the University of Missouri-Columbia while I was in the Missouri Academy. I learned a lot in the area of academic research and had a good time.”

That opportunity fueled a passion in Taylor for research, and he chose to continue his education at Northwest after graduating from the Missouri Academy.

“I really enjoyed the faculty and the environment here,” Taylor said. “It’s not too big, you don’t get lost or feel like a number. The professors teach very well and are good people to know. Plus, it has everything you need to have a good program for science.”

At Northwest, Taylor joined the Baptist Student Union (BSU), the chemistry honor society Gamma Sigma Epsilon and the mathematics honor society Pi Mu Epsilon. Last May, Taylor went with a group of students from the BSU to do humanitarian work in Africa.

“Jay has a lot of natural gifting for math and science,” said Dr. Michael Hull, assistant professor of chemistry at Northwest. “But he also has a very good work ethic. He’s very disciplined, focused and works hard. His hard work has opened doors for him.”

During the summer of 2012, Taylor went to the University of New Mexico as a part of a Research Experience for the Undergraduate (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). He worked to build nano-sized structures on semiconductor electronic devices. Last summer, he was a part of another NSF-funded REU at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied synthesizing nano-porous material used to adsorb gas.

“We consider it a success for our students to get one internship,” Hull said. “Jay got three. I received a very positive report from his supervisor at the University of New Mexico. I know he did equally well at the University of Nebraska.”

Next fall, Taylor will return to the University of Nebraska to continue his education. He plans to work toward obtaining a Ph.D. in chemistry.

“I loved my time at Northwest,” Taylor said. “I have made so many lifelong friends. I have received so much personal encouragement and guidance from my teachers. I genuinely felt supported. In my opinion, what makes Northwest so special is the effort that you put into your classes and your organizations get noticed.”

Northwest’s nanoscale science program, launched in 2009, is an interdisciplinary major involving the fields of biology, chemistry and physics. While the nanoscale program is the only of its kind in the state of Missouri, courses and hands-on laboratory experience are offered in the state-of-the-art Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. For more information about the program, visit  

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468