A Kiddush Hashem in Seattle:

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A Kiddush Hashem in Seattle:

Moshe IEEE14 Poster

Summer for most high school students usually translates to long, leisurely days and playing basketball with friends at camp. YULA Boys High School senior Moshe Willner spent the summer after his junior year a little bit differently; surrounded by PhD students, research textbooks, and optical engineering machinery, Willner spent three months enriching his mind instead of letting it languish in the summer sun. Moshe’s father, Dr. Alan Willner, a professor of fiber optic telecommunications at USC, encouraged Moshe to take advantage of his summer break by conducting research in his lab with PhD students. Willner, who is interested in biology and hopes to one day pursue a career in medicine, jumped at the opportunity to do research in a lab. “I loved the idea of discovering something new, something that doesn’t exist, that you can’t find in a textbook already”, Willner explained. “Working in the lab doing research on optical engineering provided me with that exciting feeling of discovery”. Willner admitted that although he knew little about the field initially and was intimidated by the prospect of being surrounded by experts in the subject, he took the transition in stride. Armed with the strong math and science foundation that YULA Boys School provided him, Willner was able to delve into the new subject completely and make his contribution to the research. Working with a PhD student, Willner conducted experiments on the way light sends information, and studied how to find a switch between two different data-transmission systems. Once the research was complete, Willner and his associates submitted a paper with their findings to the IEEE Photonics Conference. The Conference provides a premier global forum for reporting the latest developments in photonics, and Willner and his peers submitted their paper in the hopes of being able to share their findings at the conference.

Last week, while doing Sukkah building with his classmates, Moshe got a call from a fellow researcher informing him that their paper had been accepted to the conference. Following the exciting news, Willner was even more surprised to hear that he had been invited to travel to Seattle and present the findings of his paper. Willner travelled by himself and with a day’s notice, prepared a ten-minute presentation for 100 PhD professional scientists from various universities on his research. Needless to say, Moshe was the youngest person in attendance, and certainly the only presenter still in high school. He not only held his own among his experienced peers, but he presented the information clearly and with a full command of the subject. According to YULA Head of School Rabbi Dov Emerson, “Moshe truly represents the best of YULA. He is a member of our top Advanced Gemara Track program, a hard working student, a member of our varsity basketball team, and a well-respected student leader. He truly is a role model for his fellow students and for the greater Los Angeles community, and we are so proud of this incredible accomplishment.” Yashar Koach Moshe!