Joe Polchinski, professor at the Kavli Insitute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, has won one of three Physics Frontiers Prizes from the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation.

Polchinski graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in 1971.

Polchinski had been one of three finalists for the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, which was awarded to Russian theoretical physicist Alexander Polyakov, who is currently at Princeton University.

The prizes, awarded Wednesday in Geneva, recognize developments and breakthroughs in fundamental physics.

 Polchinski was recognized, according to the foundation, "for his contributions in many areas of quantum field theory and string theory. His discovery of D-branes has given new insights into the nature of string theory and quantum gravity..."

Polchinski, in an oral interview in the Niels Bohr archive of the American Institute of Physics, said he had one good math teacher when he was still in CDO's middle-school program but that teacher didn't fit the mold and may have been fired.

During his high school years, he studied calculus at the University of Arizona, but said it wasn't well taught.

A news release from the University of California at Santa Barbara, said Polchinski's  D-branes "have been shown to provide the atomic structure of black holes, predicted long ago by Stephen Hawking, and, as such, are one of the basic building blocks of spacetime."