June 17, 2021

UMW Physics, Math Major Wins Preeminent Goldwater Scholarship

UMW physics and math double-major William “Henry” Mills received the highly prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for his work using lasers to make movies that chronicle the movement of molecules.

UMW physics and math double-major William “Henry” Mills received the highly prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for his work using lasers to make movies that chronicle the movement of molecules.

William “Henry” Mills was in his late 20s when he arrived at UMW. After community college and a lackluster job, he’d begun to get serious about making the most of his life. This wasn’t the time, Mills thought, for playing it safe.

“I’d always been interested in physics,” he said. “I just never thought I was cool enough to study it.”

Oh, but he was.

For his work making movies of molecules in motion in a field called “ultrafast physics” – how cool is that? – he has received the Goldwater Scholarship, among the most prestigious undergraduate awards, with winners this year from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Brown. His research – a complex equation of quantum mechanics, high-level math and computer programming – explores the ways in which molecules rotate, shedding light on processes like vision and photosynthesis. Read more.