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Category: Alumni News

Michael Veit, who graduated summa cum laude in 2014 with degrees in both Physics and Mathematics, has been named the winner of the 2014 Leroy Apker Award by the American Physical Society. Veit will receive a $5,000 prize in recognition of research that formed the basis of his Honors Thesis. The University of Minnesota's School of Physics will also receive $5,000 to further support undergraduate research here at the University.

"The Apker is the most distinguished award recognizing excellence in undergraduate research in physics in this country," said Serge Rudaz, director of the University Honors Program and Professor of Physics. "We are all incredibly proud of Michael's achievement, which reflects brightly on the University, its School of Physics, and its Honors Program."

Veit entered the University Honors Program as a sophomore, motivated by UHP's emphasis on research. "I think the research component of the Honors Program had the most profound impact on my undergraduate career," he says. He credits UHP as a a major influence on his success and current career path: "My experience with research has been the biggest factor in choosing to continue studying physics in graduate school. Without UHP, I'm not sure I would have started conducting research as early as I did, and I would have missed out on some incredible experiences that shaped my career plans."

Veit is now pursuing a PhD in Applied Physics at Stanford University. "Michael's interests spanned many disciplines in science and engineering," explains Andrea Beloy, Michael's Honors Advisor. "When he found his fit in Physics, he really took off. I enjoyed working with him and am excited to follow his research career."

Interested students can learn more about faculty-directed research here on the UHP website.

About Michael's Research

My Honors Thesis was a study of transport measurements in the cuprate superconductor HgBa2CuO4+d. The cuprates are a class of superconductors which have a high superconducting transition temperature. This means that the cuprates do not have to be cooled as much as more conventional superconductors to become superconducting.

A full understanding of the cuprates remains elusive due to the observation of a number of anomalous properties which have been taken to be strong indicators that the physics of the cuprates cannot be described by the conventional model for simple metals, known as Fermi-liquid theory. However, I measured the resistivity, Hall effect, magnetoresistance, and Seebeck coefficient of the cuprate HgBa2CuO4+d, and I remarkably found that it behaves as it should in the Fermi-liquid theory. Such transport measurements are often among the first experiments to be performed on a new material. However, they are typically the least understood. My work has shown that there some aspects of these complex materials are rather conventional, and that there is still much to be learned from such measurements in the cuprates.

More about the Apker Award

The Leroy Apker Award recognizes outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students, and thereby provides encouragement to young physicists who have demonstrated great potential for future scientific accomplishment. Two awards may be presented each year, one to a student from a PhD granting institution and one to a student from a non-PhD granting institution. More information is available on the American Physical Society website.

We're very pleased to share a selection of photos from the 2014 Honors Recognition Ceremony. The ceremony was a great success, with an audience of nearly 800 students, families, friends, staff, and faculty gathering at Northrop to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our 2014 Latin Honors graduates. Thanks for making this event a memorable one.

These photos and many more are available as free high resolution downloads! Use the password "honors" to access the photos. Prints can be ordered for a fee as well.

All photos courtesy of Patrick O'Leary, University Relations.

Plans for the 2015 Ceremony

The 2015 ceremony will be held at 7pm on Thursday, May 7th, in Northrop Memorial Auditorium. Each Latin Honors graduate will receive a certificate, signed by President Kaler and the Director of the University Honors Program, and a medallion to be worn at their college graduation ceremony. This is a wonderful opportunity for family and friends to celebrate your accomplishments as an honors student. A reception will follow the ceremony. Please stay posted for details early in the Spring 2014 semester

Vidya Rao is Senior Editor for, the website of the TODAY Show on NBC. Her exciting work has taken her across the globe to Russia, where she is currently covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Vidya graduated magna cum laude in 2004 with degrees in both African American & African Studies and Political Science, and went on to receive a a master's degree in Journalism at Columbia University. She's been with TODAY since 2008, and recently checked in to share a bit about her experience in Sochi. Read Vidya's update below, check out a slideshow featuring a few of her Sochi photos, and follow her on Twitter for more Olympic excitement from an Honors alum!

From meeting the famed "Nightmare Bear" mascot and seeing the Opening Ceremony in person to getting to know the hilarious Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski and interviewing some of the world's most amazing athletes, the Sochi Olympics has been a whirlwind adventure unlike any other.

I've worked at NBC for nearly six years, covering a variety of lifestyle and news stories at When I was brought into my boss's office last August and asked if I wanted to go, I screamed. I actually jumped up and down and screamed. As the Games grew closer, there were increasing concerns over potential terrorist attacks. Friends and family urged me to rethink going to Sochi. But if there's one thing that we all know, it's that you are never guaranteed a second chance. I wasn't about to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to see the world's biggest event in person. And because NBC is a rights holder, I knew that even as a lowly dotcom producer I'd be able to interview most of Team USA.

These athletes are amazing people, and most of them (with a couple exceptions, of course) are so down-to-earth, friendly and open, it's easy to forget that they are Olympians. They laugh and joke, share their personal stories and are open to talking about both their successes and failures—a dream for a journalist.

While the days are long—we routinely work at least 16 hours a day and don't get much sleep—the work is rewarding and well worth it. I'm coming away from this experience with so many lessons, both for my career and my life, and am truly inspired by the Olympians' stories. I'm also coming away 10 pounds heavier, thanks to the NBC commissary, which serves us up free food and the now-famous free Starbucks. And in case you're wondering, no, I don't have any hotel horror stories—my hotel room is bigger than my whole New York City apartment!

We're very pleased to share a selection of photos from the 2013 Honors Recognition Ceremony. The ceremony was a great success, with an audience of 700 students, families, friends, staff, and faculty gathering at the Ted Mann Concert Hall to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our 2013 graduates. Thanks for making this event a memorable one.

All photos courtesy of Patrick O'Leary, University Relations.

Plans for the 2014 Ceremony

The University Honors Program will be moving its offices to the third floor of the revitalized Northrop Memorial Auditorium in late December of 2013—so we're very excited to announce that the 2014 Honors Recognition Ceremony will be held in the beautifully renovated auditorium. Mark your calendars with the following details, and stay tuned for further information early next Spring:

  • Thursday, May 8th, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
  • Northrop Memorial Auditorium

Jasmine Omorogbe graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in Communications Studies in 2010—her experience in the University Honors Program was rich and rewarding, and it helped to prepare her for what came next.

After working at the U's Office of Admissions and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence after graduation, Jasmine left Minnesota to study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. While there, she served as a Graduate Research Assistant with Dr. Bridget Terry Long, started three student organizations, and participated in four others (serving as an officer in two groups). After completing 32 graduate credits in the intensive nine-month program, Jasmine graduated with a Master of Education degree in Higher Education on May 30, 2013. She was nominated by her cohort to serve as the Class MarshaI, and had the honor of receiving a medal and leading her class at the graduation ceremony.

Only four days after graduation, Jasmine moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where she will begin her career as Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Affairs at North Carolina State University. She'll be teaching an undergraduate course, coordinating programming, mentoring students, and making many other efforts to boost the success of students at N.C. State.

Congratulations, Jasmine!

More on Jasmine's experience in the University Honors Program

Honors alumna Laura Schlichting (English, '09) is currently in Egypt. A selection of photographs she took during the recent protests were published by the Huffington Post.