Engineering grad student wins $250,000 fellowship Published: March 30, 2010 By: Dick Cortén Paul Tilberg At the end of March, the campus public affairs staff took a utilitarian one-size-fits-all press release from the Hertz Foundation and livened it up, personalizing it to the Berkeley campus and the local recipient of the foundation’s distinctively large largesse. It said, in part: What would you do if you were handed a $250,000 award for graduate studies with no strings attached? Paul Tillberg, a Berkeley grad student in electrical engineering and materials science and engineering, is about to find out. Tillberg was named a 2010-11 fellow of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research in the applied sciences and engineering. He is one of 15 fellows selected from among nearly 600 applicants, according to the foundation’s announcement. Tillberg, a Santa Monica native, earned a B.A. in comparative literature from University of Southern California in 2003 before a decision to become an engineer brought him to Berkeley. In 2009, he graduated with his second bachelor’s degree, a B.S. in electrical engineering and materials science and engineering. At Berkeley, he focused on a technique to direct the assembly of fluorinated small molecules at the surface of a thin film using block copolymer-based macromolecules. His current research interest lies in applying traditional antenna design techniques to tiny metallic structures and has potential applications in improving the efficiency of near-field microscopy, among other things. Tillberg is one of a group of students working with assistant professor Ting Xu, an engineer who was selected as an up-and-coming scientist to watch by the magazine Popular Science last fall. The publication named her is one of the “Brilliant 10” young researchers profiled in its November issue. Once he completes his Ph.D., Tillberg would like to pursue a career in academic research focusing on interdisciplinary projects with the potential for developing practical applications.