Wayland Native Wins Hertz Alternative Energy Fellowship

October 13, 2006

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- OCTOBER 12, 2006 -- Future scientist and Wayland, Mass., native Eric Tong Hoke wants to make ideas in science more accessible to the general public. In fact, the 22 year old believes its the responsibility of the scientist to become an advocate for change, especially in researching and finding environment-friendly alternatives to the worlds dependence on fossil fuels.

Through the promotion of scientific findings, scientists have the opportunity to educate the public about the negative impact our habits have on the environment. Im particularly concerned with global climate change as a result of the widespread use of fossil fuels, Hoke says. I hope to help develop new cost-effective means of harnessing solar energy to meet most of the worlds energy needs.

Hoke is one of 15 graduate students selected from more than 670 to receive a full five-year fellowship from the prestigious Fannie and John Hertz Foundation to support his research in applied physics. Hoke will use his Hertz Fellowship to continue his organic solar cell research at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., in the fall of 2007, after a year of study at Cambridge University in England.

Of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, Hertz Fellows receive up to $240,000 each in support to pursue their own scientific interests with the best academicians at top research universities in the United States. This no-strings-attached support gives Hertz Fellows financial independence from the constraints many graduate students face of having to choose a university or a research project because of its funding.

After a competitive application process, Hertz Fellows are chosen for their creativity and leadership as well as for their achievements in science, says John Holzrichter, PhD, Hertz Foundation president. These young people represent the future of science in America, and the results of their research will make a significant contribution to the ongoing spirit of innovation in this country.

Hoke, for his part, is no stranger to innovation. His past achievements include finding the diffusion coefficient of water in glass, a value that may result in developing more durable glass, for possible use in flat-screened computer or television monitors, for example. Hoke works hard, not only for himself but for others. He ran the Boston marathon two years in a row to raise funds to support an inner-city health program and for an orphanage in China, and he spends his time tutoring other students to help them gain a better grasp of science.

What interests Hoke about science? Society can learn so much by the bouncing of ideas between people of differing backgrounds, and science provides just the venue to do that, he says.

Hoke is a 2002 graduate of Wayland High School, Wayland, Mass., and he holds a bachelor of arts in chemistry and physics from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., where he graduated summa cum laude in June 2006. In addition to his Hertz Fellowship, Hoke was awarded the Herchel Smith Harvard Fellowship to support his research at Cambridge. Hes also a scholar of the National Science Foundation, Raytheon Corporation and Harvard. His parents, William Hoke and Elsa Tong, are both research scientists at Raytheon Corporation, Andover, Mass., and Hokes younger brother Evan is studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pa.