Prize Recipient

Matthew Pena

Matthew Pena


Background:

I am 18 years old, and a recent graduate of Dripping Spring High School. It was through public television programs and the dark, clear skies of the Texas hill country that I became interested in space. My interest in space soon lead me to physics, the science of how everything is and how it came to be. I have chosen physics as my major in college, because it is the subject that has held my interest throughout high school. I was fortunate to have a number of high school teachers who took a sincere interest in their students and who helped them prepare for academic challenges. While in high school I participated in extracurricular activities such as playing on the varsity tennis team for four years, participating in Mock Trial competition for two years, and competing in UIL science knowledge and number sense for several years. I also enjoy creating and viewing visual art, and my favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh.

This summer I will participate in a two-week internship at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Earthwatch Institute chose me and five other students from around the United States to participate in a study of lightning detection from outer space. This fall I will study physics among other subjects at the University of Texas at Austin, through the College of Natural Sciences. I am looking forward to experiencing the life of a research assistant at NASA this summer, as well as my freshman year in college at U.T. in the fall.