Maker Spotlight: Jendai Robinson

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Maker Spotlight: Jendai Robinson

Name: Jendai Robinson
Mountain View, California
University of Cincinnati and NASA Ames Research Center
Day Job:
Ph.D. Candidate and NASA Harriet G. Jenkins Fellow


Chemistry : Sensors : Biohacking

For many makers, working at NASA would be a dream come true. Jendai Robinson is actually living that dream, working as a maker, chemist, and researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center. With a background in chemistry and mathematics, Jendai now creates novel sensors that can be used to sense heavy metals such as lead and mercury, as well as neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

While Jendai’s current work would be interesting enough on its own, it’s Jendai’s journey through her school years that makes her a truly remarkable maker. She shared this story recently with a STEM Stars Summer Camp group:

During my freshman year of high school I was not a very good student because I did not go to class. I wanted to hang out with the “cool kids” so I cut class. After seeing the road that I was heading down, I saw that it was not going to help my situation any (growing up in an unsafe neighborhood with an overprotective and strict mother). So I found that academics and sports were going to be my way out.

I began to sign up for every activity imaginable so that I did not have to go home, and even applied and got accepted to a gifted and talented program at my school. Not only did I excel in academics but I also excelled in athletics.

I went on to college as a chemistry major with a biochemistry track in mind and initially wanted to go to medical school, but after my first internship at Virginia Commonwealth University I changed my mind to chemistry with a mathematics minor and wanted to go to graduate school. I did a second internship at the University of Cincinnati, and a third at Western Washington University, which eventually led me to internships at NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

You can find Jendai on
NASA | LinkedIn | The Sagle Group

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Sophia is the managing editor of the Make: blog. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

View more articles by Sophia Smith


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