Hopkins senior to use Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study low-cost solar cells

Stephen Filippone among 40 U.S. recipients of prestigious honor

Stephen Filippone, a senior at Johns Hopkins University, has been selected as a recipient of a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships for 2014-2015.

Image caption: Stephen Filippone

Gates Cambridge Scholarships recognize young people whose work has the potential for social/philanthropic impact by underwriting the cost of graduate degrees in any field at the University of Cambridge. Forty students representing 35 U.S. institutions were selected for scholarships this year.

At Cambridge, Filippone will pursue an MPhil in physics, studying the efficiency of conjugated polymer solar cells under the direction of Sir Richard Friend. Low-cost organic solar cells have great potential for providing inexpensive electricity to people living without it.

"The fact that I got the Gates and am going to Cambridge is still sinking in," said Filippone, who studies in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Hopkins. "I'm extremely excited to have this opportunity not only to study and grow abroad but also to be part of the Gates scholar community. Being part of that community will help me grow not only as a scholar, but also as a leader."

As an undergraduate, Filippone sought out a diverse research portfolio combining significant experimental and computational experience at three universities. At Johns Hopkins, he has worked in the lab of Michael Falk since his sophomore year. Their biggest project has focused on molecular dynamics simulations that investigate transitions in various glass systems.

"Filippone has been the most productive undergraduate researcher I have supervised," said Falk, a materials science professor. "He operates on the level of a graduate student. Not many undergraduate students choose computational research of the kind I engage in because of their lack of facility with and exposure to computing, but Stephen is the exception,"

For three consecutive summers, at Northwestern and Vanderbilt, Filippone worked under the auspices of the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

In addition, the 21-year-old from Los Fresnos, Texas, is a jazz musician and an outdoorsman, and he has committed considerable time to various mentoring and STEM-education outreach programs.