Nolan Flynn

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Interests include nanoscience and biomaterials for environmental and medical applications; teaching in analytical chemistry and nanoscience.

My research interests are in nanoscience and biomaterials. One area of focus in my lab is modifying the properties of nanometer-sized metal particles by attaching small molecules to their surfaces. Through this process, we can make materials that have potential application in fields as diverse as information storage and cancer therapy. A second avenue of work is with hydrogels, which are water-loving polymers. Our research group, along with many others around the world, is investigating engineered hydrogels for use in removing contaminants from water and controlling the rate of drug delivery. Student-researchers are an integral part of my research lab. Since 2004, I have had the pleasure of working with 36 student-researchers, many of whom have presented their results at national science conferences and/or co-authored peer-reviewed publications.

I teach at both the introductory and advanced levels. Each fall, I teach Analytical Chemistry, which was my area of specialization in graduate school. We study the use of advanced instruments to probe chemical systems. Topics include electronics and circuitry, data processing, and measurement methods. Recently, I have taught this course in an integrated lecture-lab format with two three-hour sessions per week. Also at the advanced level, I have taught a seminar in nanoscience and nanotechnology. During the most recent offering, we examined the work of three Boston-based luminaries in the field. Our studies culminated in trips to visit the labs of each of these researchers. At the introductory level, I frequently teach Chemical Analysis and Equilibrium, the second semester introductory course. In this setting, I enjoy using non-traditional methods for conveying chemical content and engaging the class.

I have had the opportunity to work collaboratively with a number of excellent researchers. In addition to chemists, biologists, and geoscientists within the College, I have studied the behavior of needle-like viruses with a physicist at Brandeis University and materials for wound healing with a biomedical engineer at Yale University. My interest in science writing has been enhanced by the opportunity to review papers submitted for publication by other researchers. Over the last five years, I have reviewed papers for a dozen journals including those specializing in materials chemistry, polymer chemistry, surface chemistry, and chemical education.

I enjoy reading, jogging, and watching athletics including the many Wellesley College games that my son and I attend.


  • B.A., St. Olaf College
  • Ph.D., University of Illinois