Philip V. Streich, an unassuming and polite 18 year-old, represents the future of nanotechnology research in this country.
I met Philip last year when he was a high school junior, at the 2008 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Atlanta. I led a team of judges who were selecting the best chemistry projects for special awards from the American Chemical Society. Although I did not speak with Philip during the two days of judging, I had this opportunity at the awards ceremony. Our team of judges unanimously awarded him the first place ACS award of $4000 for his research proving that carbon nanotubes can be dissolved in certain organic solvents such as N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone. He did this using light-scattering instrumentation he assembled from spare parts he found in the lab of his mentor, James Hamilton at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. Oh, did I mention that Philip is home-schooled on the family’s 400 acre farm? As it turns out, we were not alone in our awe of his work and accomplishments-- Philip won additional awards totaling nearly $18,000 in 2008.
The previous year, as a sophomore, he was one of the three top winners of a $50,000 prize at ISEF 2007. He continues his streak this year, taking 3rd place in the Intel Science Talent Search (another $50,000 prize) and being selected by his fellow finalists for the Glenn T. Seaborg Award. These are just some of the many accolades he has won over the last several years. Not bad for a young man who is also a member of the 4H club, plays guitar and piano, and is treasurer of the Democratic Party of Grant County.
Finally, Philip is co-founder and co-owner of Graphene Solutions LLC, a company formed to commercialize the results of his research. You can find out more about Philip and his research from his Wikipedia entry, or from an interview on the Discovery channel, or by watching this YouTube video.
With Philip Streich entering the world of nanotechnology research (he will attend Harvard in the fall), the outlook is bright.