Justin Grzyb, 2009 Life Sciences Award

Written by on August 25, 2009 in 2009, Life Sciences Award, Student

Justin Grzyb

Justin Grzyb

Westchester Country Day School
High Point North Carolina

Justin Grzyb is a Senior at Westchester Country Day School, a college preparatory school in North Carolina. Justin was introduced to science at a young age, as both his parents are engineers. When he had questions, they took the time to explain how things worked, which captured his imagination. Beginning in middle school, he took advanced math classes. In high school he gave up his elective period to take extra math and science classes.

During his freshman year, his dad took a job in Baltimore, so that summer Justin took a pre-calculus course at the Johns Hopkins University for Talented Youth. He ultimately met Professor Tim Weihs, who invited Justin to work in his lab at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins the following summer. That first summer he spent his time endlessly reading research papers and learning about technology surrounding NanoFoil, a reactive thin film composed of alternating, nano-scaled layers of Nickel and Aluminum. By the end of the summer, he was collecting data on his own and making a real contribution. The next summer he was given his own project—find a way to create uniform, curved particles of NanoFoil, and then measure the reaction velocity of these particles inside a vacuum. After a summer of trials and tribulations, he was successful. His work was acknowledged in two different research papers, and he is the co-inventor on a provisional patent for creating microscopic particles of NanoFoil.

In addition to his science endeavors, for the past three years Justin has been the president of the school debate team, and was a Senate campaign volunteer. With a friend he began MYPART, an organization to raise poverty awareness in the local community. For the past four years, he has participated in Chamber Singers at school and has taken voice lessons at High Point University. He also sings and plays rhythm guitar and ukulele in a local rock band, Tomahawk Child, with friends.

Upon high school graduation, Justin plans to attend Cornell University School of Engineering to pursue a degree in chemical engineering, and taking part in the Air Force ROTC program. He was recently nominated as a Rawlings Cornell Research Scholar, which will allow him to spend the next four years working on his own undergraduate research project.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the 2009 Life Sciences Awards Evaluation Committee:

  • Prof. Dr. Vittorio Daniore
    Scientific Attaché
    Embassy of Italy
    Washington, D.C.
  • Jonathan S. Fish, M.D.
  • Dr. Venigalla Rao
    Department of Biology
    The Catholic University of America
  • Samana Zulu, M.D.


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