About Me

Hi, my name is Matt Whitrock and this fall I will be a senior at Kings Park High School. This is my second year working in the Laser Teaching Center; last summer I was here as a Simons Fellow, and I am currently continuing that research. I spent my first year here learning basic physics and optics concepts, and I also completed two projects: a report on the intensity profile of a HeNe laser, and a project in which I determined the coherence length of a short-cavity HeNe laser via Michelson interferometry. For the latter project I worked with a graduate student, Jan Steinbrener, who is on study abroad to write his diploma thesis for a university in Germany.

My optical interests are varied, but all inevitably trace back to the mode structure of the HeNe laser. My current project uses opto-thermal feedback to stabilize the frequency and intensity of a dual-mode HeNe laser. For the theory and its implementation, you can see my paper and journal; the short version is that negative feedback principles and elementary laser theory contain the necessary information for constructing a basic laser stabilization system. My experience with interferometry and my interest in thermodynamics also played roles in the development of my project. Future research will largely progress along these lines, as I continue to expand the depth and breadth of my research to expore more system variations.

At school I have mixed interests. I spend a lot of my days after school in the research room, but I'm also an editor for the school literary magazine Kaleidoscope. Extracurricuarly, I write code for text-based videogames, and I also (try) to write short stories. I'm on the math team and the mock trial team. Having a balance between science and other things is important for me.

When I have time to spare, I play Ultimate Frisbee, ping-pong, and chess, all of which I am good (but not great) at. I'm a sports nut -- some would say I bleed blue, being a rabid Giants fan -- and, because most of my friends are on the soccer team, I've become a pretty big soccer fan.

I have applied to seven schools as an undergraduate: MIT, Chicago, Notre Dame, Olin, Boston College, Boston University, and Columbia. The former 4 collectively form my top 4 choices, but I have no clear #1 school to attend, so it appears that admissions results may make that choice for me. As for my intended major, it will likely be either physics, electrical engineering, or possibly EE/CS. My choice will likely depend on what school I attend, as I'm comfortable with any of those options but would like to be in a strong department. So, if I attend Chicago, it will be physics; ND or Olin would be either EE or EE/CS; I have no idea with MIT.

Matt Whitrock
May 2005
DarthWhitrock89 (at) gmail (dot) com
2005-06 Webpage
Laser Teaching Center
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