UCSB Graduate Student Wins Prestigious Hertz Fellowship

October 15, 2006

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- OCTOBER 12, 2006 From examining the uniqueness of fingerprints to studying polymers in liquid crystals, future scientist Brian Camley says physics provides a fun way to explain complex behavior or patterns. Though Camley is interested in almost everything, science has always been near and dear to his heart.

I want to spend my life doing physics research, discover interesting things, and have fun while doing so, Camley says. Physics teaches you to see something in a new and exciting way, allowing you to take wonderment to the next level. You can use physics and mathematics to find the answer to some very intriguing questions, such as whether fingerprints are really unique. In a past research project, Camley combined physical intuition and mathematical modeling to estimate that, of the 120 trillion people who have ever lived, the probability of two of them sharing a fingerprint is about one in a million.

While this 21-year old Colorado Springs, Colo., native has yet to settle on a specific area of physics research, one thing is clear his enthusiasm for solving problems will come through in whatever he does. Camley 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. Camley will use his Hertz Fellowship to study theoretical condensed matter physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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.

Camleys previous research includes a study on how to optimize sprinkler locations, as well how to increase traffic flow through toll booths without having to construct more booths. Camley found his way to science at an early age. He won a regional science fair at age 14 with a project on spatial memory and gender, and he was inspired when soon after he had the opportunity to travel to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. A vegetarian, guitar-player and avid reader, Camley also wrote a fantasy novel in less than a months time.

Camley is a 2003 graduate of the International Baccalaureate program at William J. Palmer High School, Colorado Springs, Colo., where he graduated with honors. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo., in 2006 with a bachelor of arts in both physics and mathematics. His honors thesis, Polymerization in a Smectic Liquid Crystal, was completed under Leo Radzihovsky, PhD, University of Colorado professor of physics and a past Hertz Fellow. Camleys previous honors include the Lucent Global Science Scholar award, and, with his team, earning the top commendation of outstanding in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling for 2004, 2005 and 2006. Hes a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics honor societies. He was also a National Merit Finalist. Camleys father, Robert Camley, PhD, is a professor of physics at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colo., and his mother, Caroline Camley, is a retired preschool teacher.