Experience the University of Toledo

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Nathan Szymanski


Class of 2019


Toledo, Ohio


Physics & Mathematics

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“I plugged into Ohio’s largest supercomputer and ended up with one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships.”

It adds up

Junior physics and mathematics major Nathan Szymanski didn’t begin his career at UToledo thinking about being involved in undergraduate research. His goal was to study math. He didn’t know then that his choice to pursue a degree in physics and to work on department projects outside the classroom would lead to the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

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UToledo is the Foremost Public Research University in Northwest Ohio

"When I started looking at career paths, I realized that physics was a place where I could apply my interest in math," says Nathan. And it wasn’t long before Nathan received summer internships and joined graduate students doing research. His interest in studying the physics of lithium-ion batteries and solar cell materials led to a research project using Ohio’s largest supercomputer, and an authorship on the related paper. “The math the computer was doing was so involved, I’d start the calculations at the end of the day, and come back the next morning to see the results,” he said.

Research + relationships = opportunity

Nathan cites the sense of community cultivated by the UToledo physics department for his seamless transition into the close-knit community of physics research. "The biggest thing about UToledo for me is the faculty. Both in and out of my major, the professors show they really care about their students. They want you to learn, they promote our involvement with research, and they're collaborative. Graduate students, too, are extremely helpful."

Nathan and his professor

In fact, it was a faculty member, Dr. Scott Lee, who nominated Nathan for the Goldwater Scholarship. Nathan also cites department chair Dr. Sanjay V. Khare as an important factor in his success. "Dr. Khare has been so supportive. He not only guides me with academics but also with general life choices, too."

For students who want to connect and collaborate with faculty and graduate students, Nathan suggests, "Involvement doesn’t have to be a club or fraternity. It also can be going to research colloquiums, interacting with other undergrads, grad students, and professors, and taking part in academic meetings. Whatever you're interested in, get involved!"

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Last Updated: 12/6/18