Mason Undergrads Are VPs in Company They Founded

Posted: November 7, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By David Driver

Undergraduate students would love to know that they have a job waiting for them when they graduate.

For Stephen Elmore and Cynthia Tselepis, the scenario is even better than that. The geology students are both vice presidents with Mineral Sciences L.L.C., a nanotechnology company that they helped start with Mark Krekeler, assistant professor of environmental science and policy.

Elmore is the vice president of technology and Tselepis is the vice president of research. Krekeler is the managing member of the company in Fairfax County, Va. The three did research together at Mason in 2004, then founded the company in February of this year.

Tselepis says the company startup has been an eye-opening experience. She attended a meeting at the Pentagon and has sat in on contract negotiations with veterans in the industry.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity. I am learning a lot. I am learning the gives and takes of the business world,” says Tselepis, a senior earth science major who is taking 17 credit hours this semester.

“I didn’t expect to advance so far as we are at this point, with the attention from Mason. I have learned how to manage my time. I have increased my research abilities. I am still mainly focusing on my research and my education.”

Mineral Sciences has about 10 employees, says Tselepis. She says the company hopes to secure funding in the next few months that would allow them to have about 30 employees. At this point she is not involved in hiring, but that could change depending on personnel that join the research department in the future.

The company’s goal is to protect human health and the environment through novel approaches to combating terrorist attacks with the aid of cutting-edge nanotechnologies. That is done, in part, with a low-cost nanoparticle-rich liquid that sequesters radiological dirty bomb materials, biological powder weapons and poisonous powder materials.

Tselepis says the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, for example, is very interested in the technology her company offers.

Tselepis says she is “very fortunate” to have a job lined up once she finishes her education.

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