Prize Recipient


Maximo Menchaca


My name is Maximo Menchaca and I have just completed my freshman year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  I have lived in the Chicago area my entire life and have been blessed with access to opportunities and ways to stimulate my curiosity.  I am currently doing research in magnetohydrodynamics with the University of Illinois Physics department.  A friend once told me that my most defining quality is that I don't form opinions on things that I am not sure of, but when I do have opinions, I am passionate about them.  I take this as a great compliment, but I think it goes further than this.  It is the drive to become sure of something and to form an opinion, the curiosity and quest for knowledge that is the very drive behind science.  Curiosity may have killed the cat, but cats have nine lives (or so they say).  Not only do I have the desire to learn new things, but to learn how to apply old things to new applications.  It is this quality, above all others, that I believe is most important to a scientist, and one that I have in abundance.  Physics answers the questions that have been asked, and those not yet asked.  As an environmentalist, I hope to apply my knowledge gained from a physics education and apply it to environmental stewardship.  It is my goal to help untangle the extremely complex intricacies of the biosphere in order to better understand our place.  Could a physicist ask for anything more?