University of Houston junior Matthew Reichl has joined the ranks of the top science students in the United States.
Reichl, a physics and mathematics double major and Honors College student, is among the 2010 recipients of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. He is just the second student in UH's history to receive this prestigious honor.
The scholarship program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 in honor of former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, awards scholarships to students pursuing careers in those fields. It is awarded to 300 college sophomores and juniors each year, and is considered the most prestigious award for an undergraduate student of the sciences.
"This award is a great honor and is the culmination of my academic experience here at UH," Reichl said of the award. "It makes life a lot easier as I start applying for graduate school."
A graduate of Houston's High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Reichl's initial career goal focused on becoming a jazz pianist. During his junior year in high school, a course in physics altered his ambitions.
"I took a physics course my junior year, and I had an excellent teacher," he said. "I took another physics course after that, and I just kind of fell in love with the subject."
As an undergraduate, Reichl already has gained invaluable experience as a researcher. During his sophomore year, he was recruited to assist Kevin Bassler, assistant professor of physics, conducting field work in statistical mechanics.
"Undergraduate research has formed the most important, most exciting and most gratifying part of my overall academic experience at UH," Reichl said. "Research has also prepared me for graduate school. I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Kevin Bassler and his graduate student Charo Del Genio for being outstanding mentors and for letting me be a part of their fine research group."
Reichl maintains a 3.94 GPA and is president of the UH chapter of the Society of Physics Students. He also serves on the board for the Houston Undergraduate Research Network. After completing his bachelor's degree, he wants to attend graduate school, so that he can apply his talents to a university teaching position.
"One of Matthew's most impressive qualities is that he throws himself completely into the things he is passionate about," said William Monroe, dean of The Honors College. "You can see that with his music, and you can see that in his academic work. His teachers in the physics department have been important mentors for him. Matthew is going to be a star in the field of theoretical physics, and we are very proud of him."