Kempa Adds a Marshall Scholarship to His Credits

Kempa Adds a Marshall Scholarship to His Credits

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Thomas Kempa '04, a chemistry major from Billerica, Mass., who aspires to shed light both as a scientist and as a documentary filmmaker, will study next year at Cambridge University on a Marshall Scholarship.

Marshall Scholar Thomas Kempa (right), shown last year working with Prof. John Fourkas (Chemistry).
The son of Prof. Krzysztof Kempa (Physics) becomes the third from BC since 1999 to win a Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the United Kingdom. His research at Cambridge into photovoltaic cells will have potential applications in the conversion of solar energy into electricity to light homes or power automobiles.

The younger Kempa had already been a walking advertisement for BC, being featured as one of the school's first Beckman Scholars in a public service announcement aired nationally this fall.

BC thus will have graduate scholarship winners at both Cambridge and Oxford next year. Two from BC have been announced as Rhodes Scholars, the University's first ever [see related story].

The Marshall Scholarship provides tuition, fees, travel allowance, and stipend to enable graduates of American colleges and universities to study for a degree at a university in the United Kingdom for a period of at least two years.

"When you get something like this, there is a cascade of emotions: disbelief, pride, and complete humility," said Kempa, whose Marshall bid was powered by his talents not only in the laboratory but behind the viewfinder of a digital movie camera.

Kempa currently is editing an hour-long documentary he shot in Poland this past summer with funding from the Jacques Salmanowitz Program for Moral Courage in Documentary Film, based in the Fine Arts Department at Boston College. A dual US-Polish citizen, Kempa interviewed his father and other Poles on the nation's emergence from behind the Iron Curtain to rejoin Europe.

"I tried to put high in the Marshall application the idea of a scientist-artist fused in one person," he said. "The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. You can express both.

"My two interests reflect the two people in me. One, the hardcore scientist, appreciates the beauty of the natural world. The film side of me appreciates the beauty of humanity. Both sides of me appreciate the beauty of nature - and of human nature."

He thanked two BC mentors, documentary-maker Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts), who introduced him as a freshman to film, and Prof. John Fourkas (Chemistry), in whose lab he has studied the building blocks of matter.

Kempa has been working with Fourkas on a project using laser microscopy to observe nanoparticles, some of the smallest units of matter, under a Beckman Foundation grant supporting outstanding undergraduate students in chemistry and biological sciences research.


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