Cerium Software, LLC, was started by Dr. Michael Nolan as an answer to long-running problems in academic research. Why is it that some of the smartest students in the world, the minute they enter graduate school, run into so much difficulty when they get started? While the growth and development inherent to graduate school must be experienced, Dr. Nolan has found that graduate experiences often do not include education in project management, along with what we call an "open source mindset" that fosters collaboration. This leads to projects languishing, students becoming discouraged, and the broader research community losing valuable time and resources due to problems that could easily be resolved.
Our research solutions begin with automating many of the basic tasks in academic research, ranging from basic data collection and processing, to generating reports, to fostering structured communication through a CMS. Indeed, Dr. Nolan's first product, a predecessor to Niobi Research Center, was a simple reservation calendar and database of instructional videos for lab equipment.
Our automation focus is first on structured communication, and second on automating data collection. Structure communication includes hosting task lists, calendars, instructional content, and more in a CMS such as Niobi Research Center, such that research team members can all be aware of current needs and activities in a lab. Automated data collection refers to utilizing tools such as Zeomine Server Monitor to automate basic processing of data, or using tools such as Spectra Analytics to house data in a format that is straightforward to search, retrieve, and process.
Cerium Software is committed to the Open Source movement by being an active contributor in the Drupal community, and by teaching the open source mindset both within the team, and to clients. Our vision is to use the open source mindset to radically transform education and academic research, in which students learn how to positively contribute to each other's research productivity and effectiveness as a aprt of the graduate school experience.
About Dr. Nolan and the team
Rumor has it that Cerium Software started in 2012, after a confrontation one Saturday night at midnight when Michael Nolan and another student were arguing over whose turn it was to run experiments on a GC. Instead of getting mad, Mike got developing, and after 3 hours the following Monday, Mike had written the "Second Floor Reservation Calendar" so that students could post their reservations. After the software resolved the ongoing conflict over the machine, Mike was soon fielding questions about adding more equipment, then training videos, and after that a full-on laboratory inventory manager. Mike dubbed the first version of his company "WebChemi," and he started selling software and development services shortly after graduating in 2014 with a PhD in chemical engineering from Iowa State University.
Mike, now Dr. Nolan, then went on to learn further about web development, project management, and open source collaboration by working full time as a developer while also maintaining ERC360, his first profitable product. In 2016 our first team member, Shawn Musick, came on board, and during that year Mike also renamed the company to Cerium Software.
Mike's focus during this time has been to communicate the incredible benefits of using the open source mindset to radically improve research productivity, just as Cerium software uses it to drive product development and improvement.