Will Berdanier: In the Footsteps of Isaac Newton

The main thing you need to know about Boulder, Colo., native Will Berdanier is that he's an NAUI-certified Master Scuba Diver. Oh, and he's very good at violin, is an Eagle Scout, has been a leader on campus and is by all accounts a really nice guy.

To be able to do mathematical physics at Cambridge, in particular, is incredible. It has such history. It's where Isaac Newton was a professor. It has one of the strongest math departments in the world."

Almost forgot: He's done cutting-edge research investigating methods for using relativistic beams of heavy ions to compress a pellet of fuel to extremely high temperatures and pressures (see the video for more on that).

The physics and mathematics double major also been part of a team working on particle accelerator technologies that might someday help make compact accelerators for a variety of applications, such as medical therapy and homeland security.

As a result of that research and exceptional academic performance in every respect he's been awarded a Marshall Scholarship and will spend the next two to three years at Cambridge University in England, earning two master's degrees. One is a legendary Cambridge degree, known as "Part III of the Mathematical Tripos," that covers advanced topics in pure and applied mathematics. The other is in theoretical physics. After that he plans to return to the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in physics.

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