San Diego native Clifton Whittaker '16 always dreamed of becoming a scientist as a child as he built big machines made out of Lego pieces. Even though he struggled with math and science in high school, thanks to his dedication and personal attention from his Whittier College professors, he is thriving as a double major in physics and political science and is also one of the 2015 Nixon Fellowship Program awardees. The Nixon Fellowship Program is designed to prepare exceptional students for informed citizenship and service through internships, scholarship, and research opportunities that echo Nixon's successful legacy in domestic and foreign policy.
For his Nixon Fellowship, Whittaker will combine both of this majors. "I will be evaluating and researching different forms of renewable energy and their related energy policy," said Whittaker.
He will do this by researching the common forms of renewable energy, interviewing experts in the field, investigating new technologies that may allow for new energy fields or less environmental impact, evaluating how the emergence of renewable energy sources has contributed America's energy independence, as well as touring energy facilities. This summer, he will be an intern at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in Middlesex, New Jersey where he will work as a research and lab assistant for the research group that focuses on achieving clean energy through the fusion of hydrogen and boron.
His interest in renewable energy and its policy came from his focus in physics and political science. In addition, Whittaker noted that the United States has been an international leader since its inception and he believes that a responsible energy policy will allow the country to lead by example and allow its citizens to reduce the amount of environmental damage caused by climate change and fossil fuels.
A member of the Lancer Society, Whittaker is also a member of the physics and math club, the Whittier College engineering team, and he works for the College's Wellness Coalition and the Quaker Campus newspaper.
"After I graduate from Whittier my plan is to find a research or intern position working in the field of nuclear physics," said Whittaker. After gaining some more research experience, he plans on applying for graduate school and enroll in a PhD program in nuclear physics, plasma physics, or applied physics.