WSU grad received red carpet treatment
Andrew Hart, a 2011 bachelor of physics major at Wichita State University, wasted no time applying to university graduate schools. The fact that he was immediately accepted into Ohio State University’s prestigious physics department as a graduate research associate speaks toward WSU’s undergraduate physics program.
“As a student I would say he was one of the best I’ve ever worked with,” said Nickolas Solomey, director and professor of physics Wichita State University. “I guided him through the steps and that’s about all.”
Solomey is chairman of physics at WSU. He is also director in the department of mathematics, statistics and physics.
Hart was a computer science major at Wichita State until a friend started his research with one of the physic’s professors. Hart said he found his friend’s conversations interesting and eventually changed his major to physics.
According to Solomey, it was clear within the first week that Hart could grasp the material much faster than most others.
“Andrew knew very quickly what he needed to do,” Solomey said.
“I’ve advised students I’ve sent off to Berkley and Princeton, and he would definitely tie in with any one of them,” said Solomey. “He was one of our best physics majors.”
Hart spent three years working with Solomey in the physics department.
In early 2011, Hart received the Sarachek award for excellence in research from Wichita State’s Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Named after former WSU faculty members Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek, the award was created to recognize undergraduate scientific research.
In all, Hart attended Wichita State for five years to finish his bachelor’s of physics degree.
Hart graduated cum laude in May 2011 and then applied to graduate programs at the University of Iowa, the Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin.
“It’s nice because each of them invited me to come out to their campus and look around,” he said.
Like a 'rock star'
Hart says the school visits made him feel like a “rock star”. In the end though, his final decision came down to Ohio State University.
“Hart is definitely at a level where he could do quite well at a prominent facility,” said Solomey.
A student career at Ohio State requires five to six years of graduate school, often followed by two or more of postdoctoral research.
“The thing that surprised me the most was how busy I became when the school year started,” said Hart.
“I think this is fairly typical for a graduate student, but trying to keep up on my own courses, teaching labs and doing research has been a bit overwhelming at times. I'm doing well though and I've enjoyed the ride so far,” he said.
One of the things Hart likes about physics is its relevance to solving problems.
“You just look at the history of it, and every new discovery eventually leads to huge applications which benefits everybody, and that’s really nice,” Hart said.
“More personally, I like it because once you get into physics and start to understand some of its deeper aspects, you really see it. Physics is beautiful and that’s probably why I got drawn into it,” said Hart.
Spending time with his physics professors is what Hart enjoyed most about Wichita State.
“I appreciated working with Dr. Solomey and (WSU physics professor) Dr. Holger Meyer doing research,” he said. “I’ve learned a heck of a lot from them, and that’s what I acquired the most.”