My face.

My name is Boyan Penkov.

I was born in Bulgaria in the middle of the communist revolution, and moved to California as a kid. Growing up, I spent time in eastern Europe, watching it re-emerge from under the ragged veil of Communism, and went to school in idyllic Lake Arrowhead.

I do science; my work deals with how mesoscopic things – a few hundred atoms at a time – behave, and what use we can make of the novel phenomena we see on these lengthscales. I like building real products and seeing my ideas made concrete, and love startups. I’ve written papers on high-frequency nanoscale resonators, held a world record in nanoscale photonics, and have sequenced single DNA molecules. I consult, so get in touch. Here’s a resume.

Unprofessional Resume

Here are some accomplishments that have nothing to do with my career. They’re just plain fun.

For fun, I travel off the beaten path. In 2002, I spent a month in Mongolia, and lit up my love for central Asia and the melding of the Orient and Europe. In 2004, I hitchhiked across Russia, crossing the 10,441 km from Moscow to Sakhalin Island in a leisurely two months. Then, I explored former Yugoslavia, even spending time in Kosovo a year after it declared independence. I was in Western Sahara three weeks after the November riots in Laayoune, just as the spark of the Arab Spring was about to catch fire in the desert. It’s been a hell of way to see the world, and a hell of a world to see.

Hiking has vacillated between a physical challenge, a way to interact with nature, and a way to get places. I’d like in the mountains in southern California and the Sierra Nevada as a Boy Scout. Later, I’d bang trips out in the Catskills – including a one-day run of the Devil’s Path and the Adirondacks. I spend two weeks alone in the Khibiny in late fall; a stunning way to discover what lies north of the Arctic Circle.

Taking pictures just started as a way to remember these trips, but then grew into a deeper interest in photography.

On a day-to-day basis, I run. My favorite races so far have been the Ragnar Relay – which was brutal – and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler – working up to a perfect distance to get settled in for a good summer of staying fit.


Here are the pages of some folks I follow.