UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
December 2010
Physics Undergrad One of UH’s Rising Stars

By Rolando Garcia
Natural Sciences and Mathematics

As a freshman, Thomas Markovich authored a research paper in a major peer-reviewed physics journal and since then, the NSM junior has compiled an extraordinary record in the lab that has marked him as something of a physics prodigy.   

And this rising star’s dedication does not stop in the classroom or the lab – he has become a leader in promoting the University of Houston to potential students and extolling the unrivaled opportunities UH affords to bright, hard-working students. 

Markovich himself wasted no time taking advantage of those opportunities. The summer before starting classes at UH, the Clear Brook High School graduate began contacting physics faculty to inquire about research opportunities for undergraduates.

Cullen Distinguished Professor Donald Kouri was impressed when Markovich easily devoured a graduate-level quantum mechanics text and quickly got the entering freshman involved in research. By the end of the semester, Markovich had co-authored a paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

The physics and math double major has since had two more papers published and another three are in the works. In October, Kouri and Markovich won the 2010 Undergraduate Hyer Award, given by the Texas Section of the American Physical Society to the most outstanding faculty/student research team.

It is rare for an undergraduate to co-author a paper in a major journal and an extremely rare feat for a freshman, Kouri said. Markovich is the best undergraduate he’s seen in 42 years as a professor at UH, Kouri added. 

Markovich was also cited by UH President Renu Khator in her 2009 Fall Address as an example of the undergraduate research opportunities available at UH.

Markovich does his part to spread the word about UH by serving as an NSM ambassador, a group of the college’s top students who help with high school recruitment and other activities to represent the college. He encourages talented  young students to choose UH for their undergraduate education and informs incoming students about the wealth of opportunities UH offers.

And if he wasn’t already busy enough, Markovich is also organizing an undergraduate research symposium in February for the UH Society of Physics Students that will draw bright physics undergrads from around the state.

Not only will high-achieving students find classes at UH just as challenging as in other universities, Markovich said, but UH offers unique opportunities for working with faculty on serious research.

Markovich’s fascination with physics began in middle school after watching a NOVA documentary on string theory. After graduating from UH, Markovich plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics and pursue a career in research.

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