Mark E. Eberhart became intrigued with applying chemistry fundamentals to problems of materials failure as an undergraduate chemistry major at the University of Colorado. His interest grew out of attempts to strengthen the kayaks he built, making them less likely to shatter against river boulders. This interest carried him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Ph.D. in materials science in 1983. Since then, he has worked to develop more robust models of chemical bonding useful in the design of materials with predictable intrinsic properties. He is currently a professor of chemistry and geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines.