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Blue Curved Tubes

John R. Nichols

Vice President & Chief Scientist

John Nichols is Vice President and Chief Scientist of Fornax Advanced Materials, where he directs all research and development initiatives and oversees the technical aspects of manufacturing.

John joined Fornax in 2024, after 25 years in the aerospace industry supporting all phases of satellite builds for NASA and the Department of Defense. He has supported two NASA centers directly. Most recently, he served as a subject matter expert and principal staff member of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Over the course of his career, John helped launch several NASA Flagship missions as a lead engineer, including the James Webb Space Telescope, Van Allen Probes, Parker Solar Probe, and Europa Clipper. He also served as a lead engineer on several other significant missions and payloads focused on exploring the solar system or classified targets via highly sensitive remote sensing instrumentation such as UV/VIS imagers, energetic particle detectors, and spectrometers. John is a first principles thinker with expertise in the qualification of materials for the space environment, vacuum test, vacuum chamber design, cleanroom design, precision cleaning of small particulate and molecular films and behavior of thin films.

John established multiple laboratories over the course of his career. He also led invention of the effusion cell, a device for precisely measuring the outgassing of spaceflight assemblies, as well as a process to bake out space-grade harness wire at the component level and a method for passively (thermally) monitoring film deposition during thermal vacuum bakeout using ellipsometry.

John holds a Master of Science degree in physics from The Catholic University of America, a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Duquesne University, and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Duquesne University.

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