Hi, my name is Thomas Erik Videbaek! I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1989, but my family moved to Port Jefferson, New York when I was two months old, which is where I live now. Right now I am in the 2009 REU program for Stony Brook University and am working with Dr. Noe in the Laser Teaching Center.

I went to all levels of schools, elementary through high school, in the Port Jefferson school district. As extracurriculars I attempted to play basketball, soccer and a varitey of other sports. It was not untill my senior year in high school that I found I was good at tennis, which I still play, but only recreationally. Aside from this my hobbies include reading and playing video games.

At first I was never really interested in studying physics later in life. This is mostly due to the fact that my father is a particle physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratories (BNL), and at the time I was convinced that I would not want to follow in the footsteps of my parents. So I became interested in chemistry and enjoyed all of the classes that I took in that subject. My disinterest in physics continued, even through the single physics course that I took in high school. My love of physics started to take root during my sophomore year in high school when I was told, by my advisor, that I should do some research.

At first I attempted to find someone working in chemistry to take me on as a research assistant, but was unsuccessful. It was at this point that my father pointed me in the direction of a professor at Stony Brook. Dr. Hemmick, who was currently doing some research, took me on his team. His project was to build a Hadron Blind Detector for the particle accelerator, RHIC, at BNL. I worked there for three summers. It was not until my second summer that I grasped the concept of what the purpose of his project was, but the whole while I was learning new things. The most important part of this experience was that I gained a deep respect for the field of physics and I learned to love working with my hands on projects. Just going in and working to fix or build things became a passion.

I ended up going to Stony Brook Univesity due to its physics program and the proximity that it has to BNL. I have spent the last two years at Stony Brook taking class in physics and expanding my appriciation of the field. During that time I took a class about optical physics, which then gave me a new interest. I am here at the Laser Teaching Center to see if doing hands on research in optics will spark a new passion. But since my interest in this field is new, I do not really know much about the opportunities that are available. Hopefully I will find something that I find interesting and get to learn something new!

Thomas Videbaek
June 2009
Laser Teaching Center