A native of Potter County, PA, Daniel de Lill grew up under the darkest skies on the eastern seaboard. This inspired countless nights of dreaming of new worlds and a desire to understand the nature of our universe. After obtaining degrees in French and Chemistry from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, he went on to earn a master's degree and doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from The George Washington University in DC. Following an NSF-funded postdoctoral stint at the University of Nevada, Reno, he became a professor at Florida Atlantic University. After seven years of teaching and research, Daniel took a leave from academia to pursue dreams of writing and publishing his science fiction and cooking lots of amazing vegan food in his home laboratory, the kitchen. He is the author of nearly 30 scientific publications, scores of presentations, and two laboratory manuals. His first fiction novel, Lunar One was published in 2018. Daniel is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and a lifetime member of the Florida Writer's Association.
I was born and raised in north-central Pennsylvania, in and around Potter County. Being a first-generation college student who grew up in the sticks, the opportunity to go to college in a “big city” of 10,000 people like Lock Haven was the first step on the journey of a lifetime.
While at Lock Haven, I took advantage of all that LHUP had to offer: I obtained degrees in French and Chemistry with a minor in International Studies; I traveled abroad to France (I'm obsessed with all things French); I participated in greek life, student government, student activities, university and marching bands, and was one of the few “gays” on campus. When I left Lock Haven, I was no longer the naive child I had once been. Instead, I was a somewhat less naive young adult.
After moving to Tucson, AZ twice (first time on a whim), attempting graduate school at the University of Arizona, and even working in NC for a bit, I found my way to The George Washington University in DC, where I obtained my M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry. DC was amazing, equaling only my time in France in terms of adventure and fun. In DC, not only did I obtain my doctorate, but I found a new spirituality, volunteered with the Burgundy Crescent Volunteers, ran with DC’s Front Runners (including running several races and a half-marathon), and even played saxophone with DC’s Different Drummers. DC will always be a second home to me.
When deciding upon a post-doc, I had an offer to work at NIST with a National Academy of Sciences fellowship. This was great pay and it would mean I could stay in DC. Or, I could make less than half the pay of the fellowship and move to Reno, NV, which was something I did not want to do. But, the position I wanted was in Reno. I moved and I have never regretted it. During my second year, I was able to fund myself through a National Science Foundation American Competitiveness in Chemistry Fellowship.
A year later, I started as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Florida Atlantic University. I published more than a dozen research articles in my seven years as a faculty member there, and was highly lauded for my teaching. In 2016, I was selected as the university’s Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year in recognition of my work with undergraduate students in my research lab. Later that year, my department voted against my application for promotion and tenure. After this, I had the option of remaining at FAU in a non-tenured position or forge a new path for myself in life.
After much reflection, I decided to take a short leave from academia. Throughout my life, I’ve more-or-less wanted to be one of four things when I grew up: Scientist/astronomer, astronaut, professor, and writer. I was a research chemist in academia as a graduate student, post-doc, and professor for 14 years. That checks two of the boxes. I applied to be an astronaut in 2015 when they had over 18,000 applicants. Obviously, I did not get that one and probably never will. But, I have wanted to be a writer for about as long as I wanted to be a scientist. Over my entire career as a scientist, I have published nearly 30 research articles and two editions of a lab manual. I thought that kind of writing would satiate my desire of being a published author. Well, technically, I am a published author. But, it’s not the same thing. I want to write my stories, be it fictional, reflective, or even educational. While I love being a chemist, I decided to step away from science and academia for some time to explore new adventures in life.
Thank you for joining me on this journey!