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Young alum gains internship in world-renowned particle physics lab

Monday, July 7, 2014
Young alum gains internship in world-renowned particle physics lab

OU alum Matthew Solt is pursuing his passion at an internship where they are using a particle detector to identify various elements of the universe. He'll be attending Stanford University this fall for his Ph.D. in physics.
Just a few months after crossing the stage at commencement, Oakland University graduate Matthew Solt crossed the North Atlantic to be part of a groundbreaking project at the Switzerland-based European Organization for Nuclear Research, which operates the world's largest particle physics laboratory. Solt is currently an intern for the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's ATLAS Group, whose work at CERN involves using a particle detector to identify various elements of the universe.

“The focus of ATLAS, and other experiments at CERN, is to find supersymmetry, dark matter, extra dimensions, new exotic particles and new phenomena that have never been observed,” Solt said. “All of these would be great scientific discoveries, and to potentially be a part of that is the most exciting thing to me.”

The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by Stanford University, where Solt will begin pursuing his Ph.D, in physics this fall. The Beverly Hills, Mich. native chose Stanford over other offers from elite schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said attending Oakland for his undergraduate degree helped position him to succeed, from both an academic and financial perspective. An OU Presidential Scholarship covered 100 percent of his tuition costs over four years, which allowed him to get the most out of his education.

“I started out as simply a mechanical engineering major. During my freshman year, I figured out I could add physics as a second major and still finish in four years,” Solt said. “If I went to other schools that did not give me any scholarships, then I would only have been a mechanical engineer, without a physics degree, and my dream of doing some form of particle physics and working at CERN would probably have never been achieved.”

Solt’s academic talents have caught the eye of his professors. Evgeniy Khain, Ph.D., taught Solt in several upper-level physics classes at OU and praised his high motivation and dedication to learning.

“Matthew is a bright, curious, enthusiastic and very organized student,” said Dr. Khain, associate professor of physics. “He has a high potential for contributing to a globally-engaged United States science and engineering workforce, and I am sure that he will pursue a strong and successful academic career.”

Along with excelling in the classroom, Solt was active in the campus community. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi – Engineering Honors Society and also served as a Supplemental Instruction leader for OU's Tutoring Center, helping students succeed in math, engineering and physics courses.

“I especially enjoy when students are interested in physics enough to ask questions that are beyond what they need to know for the course,” Solt said. “To take a subject which many students have a negative view or are scared of, and to spark their interest, is really exciting to me.”

While he's still pondering his future career in physics, Solt says that teaching and research are among his goals after finishing graduate school.

To learn more about Oakland's physics programs, visit the website at oakland.edu/physics.


Solt is one of several family members to graduate from OU.