October 12, 2006
LIVERMORE, Calif. -- OCTOBER 12, 2006 From crafting simple little rockets with household items and cooking ingredients as a child in Raclawice, Poland, to conducting in-depth research in building ultra-strong composites at the University of Michigan, Paul Podsiadlo has come a long way. The 28-year old future research scientist and Westland, Mich., resident is one of 15 students from more than 670 across the country selected to receive a full five-year fellowship from the prestigious Fannie and John Hertz Foundation to support his ongoing graduate research in nanotechnology.
I have always loved science, Podsiadlo says. Im especially drawn to nanoscience because working with matter on an ultra-small scale is exciting and challenging, and has the potential to yield many practical applications to improve every area of life. Podsiadlo immigrated to the United States when he was 17, learned English in less than a year and excelled in the sciences in school. He will use his Hertz Fellowship to continue his studies in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
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.
Podsiadlo grew up on in rural Poland, during a time of countrywide economic instability. When his father moved to the U.S., Podsiadlo followed him and discovered educational opportunities that were beyond reach in Poland. His hard work ethic and drive to succeed come from this context, and Podsiadlo has never looked back.
I never expected that coming to America would award me with such opportunities, Podsiadlo says. The Hertz Fellowship has had an enormous impact on my work and it will have a tremendous impact on my future career. Receiving this award allowed me to freely work on subjects of my choosing as well as to develop collaborations with other universities and research groups.
Podsiadlo has focused his current research on nanotechnology, a branch of applied science focused on design, synthesis, characterization and application of materials and devices on the nanoscale. He is currently looking at ways to develop super strong and light-weight composites -- knowledge that one day may result in better-designed automobiles and airplanes, as well as novel anti-cancer drug delivery methods, which can improve current therapies and effectiveness.
Podsiadlo is a 1996 graduate of Bridgman High School, Bridgman, Mich. He holds a bachelor of science and a master of science in chemical engineering from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., were he graduated summa cum laude in 2002. Previous honors include serving as an invited technical scholar and intern for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and as a Helen Gibson Scholar for chemical engineering. He also received the Kosciuszko Foundation Scholarship. His wife Aneta is a student at Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Mich. His father Stanislaw Podsiadlo, is a truck driver in Chicago, and his mother Miroslawa Podsiadlo is a retired grade school teacher in Raclawice, Poland.