Josh Rackers selected as the 2019 Ceil M. DeGutis Prize Fellow
Josh Rackers is a graduate student in Biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis. His work focuses on using the tools of applied quantum mechanics to predict the behavior and interactions of biological molecules. This work is motivated by a deeply held belief that physics holds the answers to many of biology’s most important problems. Josh obtained a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Political Science from The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, he performed research on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) silicon-based detector design. Following graduation, Josh decided that the most immediate way to make an impact on the world was to become a teacher. He was selected for Teach For America, an organization that places top university graduates in teaching positions at poor, mostly-urban schools. He taught high school physics and chemistry in Baltimore, Maryland in what was certainly the most difficult and rewarding job of his career. He claims to have succeeded in persuading a generation of students that physics really does matter to the real world.
After 3 years in the classroom, Josh began his graduate studies in biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis. As a graduate student, Josh has developed a novel physics-based model for simulating biomolecules, won multiple fellowships, and contributed to major software projects. He will defend his thesis, entitled, “A Physics-Based Intermolecular Potential for Biomolecular Simulation” on April 26, 2019. He still thinks that persuasion is the most fun and most important part of being a scientist.