Stephen Winters-Hilt, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science
How did you discover Western?
I’m a Westerner, all cattle and no hat (where my "cattle" consists of wicked fast pattern recognition code and mathematical physics computations). So landing at Western was an obvious move.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
B.S., M.S. Caltech, Advisors: Kip Thorne (for M.S.) and Barry Barish (for B.S.), both advisors are recent Nobel Prize winners in Physics. Research with Kip Thorne eventually led to Ph.D. studies in Quantum Gravity and Quantum Field Theory at Wisconsin with advisors Freidman and Parker.
Also, while at Caltech I was able to take the most advanced mathematical physics courses from Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman, both also Nobel Prize winners in Physics. Even so, this wasn’t enough mathematical and theoretical physics, so I decided to go study with the Mathematicians at the Maths Institute Oxford. My advisors were Roger Penrose (co-author with Stephen Hawking on the famous Black Hole singularity theorems) and Nick Woodhouse.
After learning all that mathematical physics, I decided to enlist the use of a computer to supplement my feeble human brain. This eventually led to another Ph.D. in Computer Science at UCSC, specializing in Machine Learning and Bioinformatics. I then took on a joint appointment at the University of New Orleans and as PI at Children’s Hospital. I did this for nine years, and then shifted all research into private partnerships (after getting exclusive license to all biosensing and pattern recognition research patents).
What most excites you about your field?
I can best express this by quoting a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1st Baron (1809-92):
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?
Imagine the famous Shangri-La, a beautiful valley kingdom high in the mountains, but where there is awesome skiing, hiking and biking, where there are gemstones strewn about, naturally occurring, and the mule deer are so friendly they will come up and lick your hand—it’s like that.