Scholar to visit Cambridge for graduate study
David Kolchmeyer, one of the only 14 annual Winston Churchill Scholarship recipients in the country, said he looks forward to taking part in the Cambridge Supersymmetry Working Group, where experimentalists and theorists collaborate to investigate supersymmetry.
The physics student has been awarded the scholarship, listed as one of the nation’s top three most prestigious and honorable academic awards, according to the Winston Churchill Foundation website, to use for graduate study at England’s University of Cambridge.
Kolchmeyer said he plans to further his education in a graduate program for applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge, one of the oldest universities in the world.
“Applying for the Winston Churchill Scholarship seemed like a total reach. When I read the profiles of the previous award winners, I was rather intimidated because they were some of the most accomplished students in the United States,” Kolchmeyer said. “At first, I didn’t see myself as one of them.”
Kolchmeyer also received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship last year for excellence in mathematics, science and engineering. The Churchill Scholarship is especially significant because in addition to tuition money, he also plans to become part of a respected academic program in England, Kolchmeyer said.
The award has only been won three times by students from the University since 1963, according to the website, when the award first originated.
Arthur Casciato, the director of the University’s Office of Distinguished Fellowships, said Kolchmeyer’s accomplishment puts Rutgers in a similar league to other leading universities.
“David is a shining example of how good the science program, faculty and students are at Rutgers,” Casciato said. “You can tell the quality of education by the surrounding competition. David’s success places Rutgers with leading universities like Harvard, Princeton and the University of Wisconsin.”
Kolchmeyer said he is grateful for the University faculty and resources that have helped him along the way. His Current research advisor, Professor Amitbah Lath, and former undergraduate advisor, Professor Mohan Kalelkar, have both witnessed his growth as a student.
“David has been a superb physics major, among the very best we have had in our program over the years,” Kalelkar said. “Therefore, I actually authorized him to take graduate physics courses starting in his junior year, and he hugely excelled in them.”
Like all other students, he experienced challenging moments, setbacks and spent long and difficult hours in the library and research lab, Kolchmeyer said. It was important to learn from mentor figures around him and use all the opportunities at Rutgers to the best of his ability.
“David has seen how experimental work at the cutting edge is different from the standard classroom or teaching lab,” Lath said. “He has had to deal with the frustration of things not working. He has learned to collaborate with colleagues and work slowly and painstakingly to build up a deeper understanding.”
Even between assisting third and fourth-year experimental physics lab courses, taking 600-level courses and being a member of the Institute for Domestic and International Affairs, Kolchmeyer still partakes in his musical hobby of playing the saxophone within the Mason Gross School of the Arts chamber ensemble, he said.
“People have told me that I am exceptional. But that doesn’t mean that I am an exception. Getting a scholarship of this magnitude is very attainable with hard work,” Kolchmeyer said.
Kolchmeyer discovered his love for physics years ago in his high school physics classroom, he said. He hopes to get his Ph.D. in physics and become a professor in high-energy physics.
“It is very easy to recognize his talents and predict a promising future,” Lath said.