University of Oklahoma honors student Matthew Peters has been named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar, placing OU in the top ranks of universities nationally with 53 Goldwater Scholars since the competition began in 1991. The prestigious scholarships are awarded on the basis of potential and intent to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
“We are proud of Matthew for earning the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship,” said OU President David L. Boren. “His achievement is another example of the tradition of excellence that defines the University of Oklahoma.”
Peters, a junior pursuing dual degrees in physics and mathematics, is from Purcell, Oklahoma. He works with John Wisniewski, OU President's Associates Presidential Professor and assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences, to research stars with circumstellar disks. He presented his work at the annual American Astronomical Society Meeting and is listed as co-author on an article in preparation.
In addition, Peters participated in a project on solar cells with professors Robert Witteck and Henning Schulte-Huxel at the Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hameln, Germany. His work there was funded by the DAAD-RISE Scholarship, an international award for undergraduate research at a German university. During his freshman year, Peters worked with Braden Abbot, OU professor of physics and astronomy, on a project using particle physics data from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). His summer plans are to contribute to the development of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Space Telescope at Goddard Spaceflight Center. Upon graduation from OU, he plans to pursue a doctorate in propulsion or astrophysics and conduct research at NASA.
Peters is a member of the OU Honors College and holds a perfect 4.0 grade point average. In addition to performing research at the Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hameln, he has studied at the University of Leipzig in Germany. He was one of 45 students nationwide to receive the Astronaut Scholarship, an award for superior students in science and technology worth up to $10,000. He also was one of three students to receive the Duane E. Roller Award in 2016 from the Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy.
The national scholarship competition is conducted by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. This year, 1,280 college sophomores and juniors from 455 institutions competed for the 211 scholarships. 281 students received Honorable Mentions, including OU students Kate Avery, Alex Hamilton and Eli Jergensen. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.