The Caltech Effect: A Bright Future with Resnick Fellow Kyle Virgil

Being able to turn science into a tangible way for somebody who you will never meet to access energy easier to power their home or to support their families is extremely encouraging and very lofty. My name is Kyle Virgil I’m a third-year graduate student here at Caltech, and I’m a current Resnick fellow. Growing up I had a real passion for understanding the way that light interacts with matter to create electricity and do all these really interesting things. I look at materials called semiconductors that have special properties wherein they can absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity that we use to power our lives or make fuels or can do a lot of wonderful things with. There’s such a huge breadth of science that occurs at the level of light interacting with matter. When I came here I was able to see that we use on this campus technologies that turn sunlight into not only electricity but into everyday fuels. We have these devices that, when you shine light on them, they clean wastewater. Collaboration at Caltech is something that I find extremely fascinating and wonderful. The Resnick Institute facilitates that collaboration by providing an exposure to a subset of these investigators that are really interested and really driven by these questions about the nature of the way that our world works in the context of providing a sustainable future for ourselves. What’s really fun, when you bring all these different mindsets and all these different perspectives together, is that they can synergistically create this wonderful new understanding of the problem and therefore a solution to that problem that otherwise we would not be able to take advantage of. Being here I’ve had the opportunity to actually start my own original research projects. It’s just exciting to know that I can continue to take two very different scientific perspectives, material science and chemistry, and apply them in a new way to the development of photovoltaic devices and solar energy technologies that will drive the future one day. It makes me very proud to be a part of community of passionate people that are able to tackle these huge challenges in energy and sustainability. [Music]

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