Fourth-year electrical engineering student Tyler Colenbrander has been selected as one of this year's 16 recipients of the Churchill Scholarship, which provides funding for a one-year master's degree at the University of Cambridge.
"We had an exceptional group of applicants at Caltech this year for the Churchill," says Lauren Stolper, director of Fellowships Advising and Study Abroad. "Each Churchill Scholarship-designated university must select only two seniors to go on to the national level of selection for the scholarship. Tyler stood out in this exceptional group of seniors."
Colenbrander has conducted research on solar cell technology on campus and at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. "As a first-year undergraduate, I was given an incredible introduction to the field of solar cell research by Professor Harry Atwater and then-graduate student in applied physics, Dr. Joeson Wong," Colenbrander says.
The next year, Colenbrander joined the Solar Array Technology and Engineering Group at JPL, where he focused on perovskite solar cells (PSCs), which could help create ultralight, flexible solar arrays that work in conditions subject to radiation, extreme low temperature, and low light intensity, and could power future deep space missions. Colenbrander won a Goldwater Scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year for his research.
At Cambridge, Colenbrander plans to research ultrathin solar cells for both space and terrestrial applications under Louise Hirst, assistant professor of physics and materials science and metallurgy, while earning a master's of philosophy in physics (MPhil) degree.
"Renewable energy research is inherently interdisciplinary and has global impacts, so I am excited by this unique opportunity to experience research in a different country and combine my background in electrical engineering with research in physics and materials science," Colenbrander says. "It's truly been a dream come true to work on solar cell research at both Caltech and JPL, and now to have this amazing opportunity to further investigate solar cells at Cambridge."
Caltech students have been selected for Churchill Scholarships for the past six consecutive years; Colenbrander is the 23rd Caltech senior to be named a Churchill Scholar since the scholarship began in 1963.