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LaNetra Clayton Tate

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LaNetra Clayton Tate

Polymer Chemist

National Aeronautics and 
Space Administration
Kennedy Space Center
Florida, United States


  • B.S. ChemistryChemistry Education, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL, U.S.
  • Ph.D. Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, U.S.

Work Focus:

"My major focus is developing and/or enhancing polymer nanocomposite systems for space applications. My areas of concentrations include conductive systems which include conducting polymers, carbon nanotube composites and other polymer based systems."

Advice to Students:

"Become knowledgeable about the field by reading literature. Also, find an opportunity where you can spend a summer internship working in a research lab that is involved in nanotechnology research."


  - National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Q: When did you first find that your career path focused on nanotechnology?
During my graduate research. I worked in polymer nanotechnology and polymer carbon nanotube systems. I also investigated the radiation effects on polymer carbon nanotube composites.   

Q: What current nanotechnology applications are you working on?  
I currently work on new wiring technology for space applications.    

Q: What's the most rewarding thing about working with nanotechnology?
As with all science investigation, the most rewarding is the discovery and knowing that there is so much more to learn and discover in this area of research.   

Q: Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you’ve worked on has positively impacted the world?
I would say the work I did in graduate school on transparent carbon nanotube composites and radiation effects on these composites contributed to the overall knowledge base of the area.   

Q: What do you think is the single greatest impact nanotechnology has had on the world thus far?  
I do not think we have discovered it yet. The impact today is the excitement that it has brought, but the single greatest impact is on the horizon.   

Q: Please give an example of what you envision nanotechnology applications leading to in the future.
I think in the area of polymer nanotechnology the use of nanoscale materials will continually be important in fabricated materials with enhanced properties and a synergy that will afford “better” material that can be tailored to specific applications. In other areas I believe that we will be able to effectively miniturize devices that do everything from serve as a sensor to drug delivery systems.   

Q: Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
I currently work in a team.   

Q: If you work more as a team, what are some of the other areas of expertise of your team members?   
Depending on which project, I work with other polymer chemist, electrical engineers, and other chemist that specialize in other areas such as inorganic or organic chemistry.  

Q: Did your university training help you in your nanotechnology work?

Q: Do you have a mentor?  Did you in your college years?
Yes, I have several individuals that I consider to be mentors. One of my mentors is Dr. Meyya Meyyappan of NASA Ames. I first started working with Dr. Meyyappan in graduate school. He has been a great source of knowledge and advice.  I would also consider Dr. Katie Thorp of the AFRL has one of my mentors. Dr. Thorp has always been willing to assist me in any way that she could.  During my graduate years my graduate advisor, Dr. Julie Harmon, was my mentor and although I did not realize then, did a great job in preparing me for the future.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still focus on nanotechnology applications?
Absolutely. I was very fortunate to work in this area of research. I have always enjoyed the work that I did in graduate and now at NASA. 

Q: If a high school or college student was interested in nanotechnology, what advice would you give them to help prepare take on those roles?  
Become knowledgeable about the field by reading literature. Also, find an opportunity where you can spend a summer internship working in a research lab that is involved in nanotechnology research.

Q: What other advice do you have for pre-university students?
Study hard, learn much, but most of all enjoy life.