Erik Herz, a senior and master's degree student at Virginia Tech, has won a Fulbright grant for doctoral research at the University of Dortmund in Germany.
On May 10, Herz will receive undergraduate degrees in three majors-materials science and engineering (MSE), economics, and international studies-all summa cum laude. This summer, he will defend his thesis for a master's degree in MSE.
At Virginia Tech, Herz is conducting research on semiconductor nanoparticles, which can be used as DNA tags for tracing and detection purposes. In Germany, he will advance his investigations of semiconductor nanoparticle properties.
In recognition of his academic achievements at Virginia Tech, the College of Engineering named Herz the Outstanding Senior for the 2002-2003 school year.
A member of the Hillcrest Honors Community at Virginia Tech, Herz has been named to the College of Engineering's Dean's List every semester. He has received numerous scholarships while at the university, including the Paul E. Torgersen Leadership Scholarship, Gilbert and Lucille Seay Scholarship, Honors Community Scholarship, Knobler MSE Book Scholarship, and others. In 2002 he received a $7,500 Goldwater scholarship for his senior year.
In 1999 Herz spent a semester as a cooperative education student with B.F. Goodrich Aerospace, and he has designed website content for Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology.
He has been a member of the Virginia Tech chapter of the Materials Engineering Professional Society, Students for a Diverse Campus, and the Southwest Virginia Dance Club. He also serves as an Honors Program representative for incoming freshmen and as a study abroad representative.
Herz became interested in biomaterials during a study-abroad semester at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia in 2000. "I saw how beneficial that field can be," he said. "The processing of materials offers exciting prospects for the betterment of human life, and I want to become a leader in this research."
Economics, his second major, is a subject Herz finds "stimulating-I enjoy learning about the ways businesses and industries operate." He chose international studies as a third major "because I have an international background-my parents came to the U.S. from Switzerland-and I'm interested in travel and learning more about other countries."
Herz spent spring semester 2001 studying classical Roman history and Italian at Virginia Tech's European center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Although he was born and grew up in the U.S., he speaks Swiss German, which he learned from his parents.