Nicholas Montoni, Ph.D.

From an early age, Nick was obsessed with light—the way spotlights catch the dust in dark movie theaters, the way rainbows form after storms, and the way the spot under a magnifying glass heats up. It wasn’t until college at the University of North Carolina that Nick got to put that interest in light to use. As a chemistry student and undergraduate researcher, Nick studied how molecules interact with light and sought to understand what happens to light energy after it is absorbed by a molecule. The broader purpose of this research was to discover new materials for solar energy harvesting.

In 2018, Nick graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a Ph.D. in chemistry. Their research again focused on light, this time studying how small metal particles absorb and transfer light energy. Scientific research is fun and enlightening, but Nick wanted to be in a line of work with more societal impact, so they took on translating science for policymakers at the Washington State Academy of Sciences and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Following their work on Washington State policy, Nick moved to the other Washington for a fellowship in Congress, where they worked for Congressman David Price of North Carolina. It was here that Nick discovered a love beyond light: the federal appropriations process. Science has always benefited from robust federal investment, and as a scientist and a member of society, Nick is excited to be at Third Way supporting federal investments in research and development programs for a diverse set of clean energy technologies.

When not working, Nick runs long-distance (two marathons down, many more to go), plays too many video games, and makes embarrassing attempts to do stand-up comedy.


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