"In 2007, Nosonovsky created a theoretical surface architecture that addressed superhydrophobicity at both nano- and microscales, with crannies that bent back in on themselves.
It was used by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to make ketchup bottles that allowed the product to slide out without sticking to the sides.
“I was doing well in my classes, but nothing really caught my attention until I took Professor Nosonovsky’s class on biomimetic and functional surfaces,” he says. “I just immediately loved it.”
Hurd became so enthralled he joined Nosonovsky’s lab and spent hours recording the contact angles that droplets of water formed on various surfaces.
For his senior project Hurd resolved to find a topic that would bring together his interests in green energy, biomimetics and tribology (the study of friction and wear). With Nosonovsky’s guidance, he developed a filter material that would reduce the amount of energy it takes to remove salt from seawater through the reverse osmosis (RO) process.
Jobs such as Hurd’s are predicted to increase as the demand for workers in freshwater technologies grows. That’s especially important in Milwaukee, a city vying to be a hub of freshwater industries.
“When I compared what I was doing in Professor Nosonovsky’s lab with my options in traditional engineering, I decided my money was on the freshwater applications,” he says. “Especially after my research paper was published, I knew this was the field I wanted to continue in.”