Joseph Scherrer

Hertz Fellow: Joseph Scherrer

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Area of Study


Fellowship Years

2016 - present

Joseph (Joe) Scherrer grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, making homemade rocket fuel and particle accelerators from parts on eBay. In high school, Joe was taken in by the Wikswo Lab at Vanderbilt University and assigned to a DARPA biodefense grant, where he learned how to be both an effective and a socially responsible scientist while co-authoring two patents and a first-author publication on microfluidics.

As an undergraduate at Princeton, Joe has spent time in physics labs across various disciplines. He developed a new method for measuring very high energy levels of lithium atoms and contributed previously unmeasured spectroscopic data to the atomic physics community (paper in preparation). Additionally, he has conducted machine learning analyses of fruit fly behavioral data while building a deuterium fusion reactor for the physics teaching lab.

In graduate school, Joe hopes to apply his physics education and experimental expertise to developing new biophysics tools. He finds applications to neuroscience problems particularly interesting, both because the brain is a fascinating piece of hardware waiting to be reverse-engineered, and because a fuller understanding of it promises to transform the human condition. With his Hertz Foundation Fellowship, Joe will pursue a PhD in biophysics.

Outside the lab, Joe spends his free time on marksmanship, the saltwater aquarium hobby, and high voltage projects.