Princeton University Student Wins National Physics Fellowship Competition

Joseph Scherrer
Joseph Scherrer

Princeton University senior Joseph Scherrer is one of 12 college seniors and first-year graduate students nationwide to be named a 2016 Hertz Fellow by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation.

The fellows, who were selected from more than 800 applicants, will receive a stipend and full tuition support valued at $250,000 for up to five years of graduate study in the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences.

Scherrer will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017 after spending a year in Germany as a Fulbright Fellow. He plans to pursue a research career in biophysics.

In high school, Scherrer constructed a particle accelerator in his backyard shed that allowed him to produce X-ray photographs. As a Princeton sophomore, he built an acoustic device that levitates styrofoam balls in midair, and as a junior he started constructing a Farnsworth fusion reactor to demonstrate deuterium-deuterium fusion for neutron-activation experiments.

As an undergraduate researcher at Princeton, Scherrer has worked on several projects with faculty members. He is also a co-author on two patents for microfluidic valves and pumps he helped develop in 2012 as a summer researcher at Vanderbilt University.

Scherrer received Princeton’s Kusaka Memorial Prize in Physics in 2015 for outstanding academic and research performance. He has served as a physics tutor at Princeton. He partnered with the engineering school to found the Makers’ Collective and a workshop called the Makelab for students with a passion for building and inventing. He also founded the “Cheese and Bad Movies Club,” where students eat gourmet cheese while watching movies that are “so bad, they’re good.”