After growing up in New Bedford, MA, Santos has been working on some form of nanotechnology since the late 1990s when he started work as an undergraduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab. He earned a BS in physics from MIT and a PhD in physics from Boston University. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Glotzer Group at the University of Michigan. Santos is the president and co-founder of DNP123 Company, a nanotechnology startup company whose mission is making nanotech affordable and easy. He is also a board member of NanoBio Designs, a genetic detection company that won the Innovative Small Business of the Year award for 2022 in Indiana.
Santos has been an educator everywhere from a Boston inner-city public school to private liberal arts colleges (Oberlin, Gustavus Adolphus, Simpson). Other roles have included data scientist, commedia dell’arte improv comic, insurance professional, cartoon animator, innovation lab leader, semi-professional actor, video game developer, opera performer (non-singing), and a one-time burlesque carnival barker. He authored two books, How Many Licks? Or, How to Estimate and Near Anything and Ballparking: Practical Math for Impractical Questions, both of which teach the art of estimation to a lay audience. Throughout his career, the one constant has been a strong need to promote science and skeptical thinking to the public.
Santos lives with his lovely and highly talented wife Anna Lackaff and various neighborhood cats that like to visit.