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Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Mississippi

Physics Student Ambassadors

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Matthew Mestayer

Matthew Mestayer

An ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts, Matthew Mestayer is an aspiring physics major.

Ally Watrous

Ally Watrous

An ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts, Ally Watrous is an aspiring chemistry major.

Why did you choose to attend UM?

I chose to attend UM because of the research opportunities for undergraduate students including freshman! When I visited the University and got a chance to talk with the current students and professors. I could tell how many opportunities there were for undergraduate students and how much the students loved being here.

When and how did you choose your major(s)/minor(s)?

Coming to UM I thought that I wanted to be a Chemistry major with minors in math and French. I knew I wanted to study Chemistry because I loved the idea of chemistry research and I had been taking French since 6th grade and I wanted to continue. The chemistry department offers emphasis for the B.S. Chemistry major so I decided to add an emphasis in chemical physis. I quickly realized that a lot of what I loved about Chemistry overlaps with Physics, and it was only a few more classes for a B. A. in Physics. The summer before my freshman year, I was accepted into the German intensive summer program so I thought I would also minor in German. After taking German classes for a few semesters, I decided that I wanted to keep taking classes and became a B.A. German major as well.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?

Physics is a lot more than the physics you might see in high school. Physics expands into quantum mechanics, astrophysics, acoustics, and other areas. It is so multifaceted that there is something for everyone. If you are at all interested in Physics, take a few classes, and see which are you like best and go from there!

Can you tell me about a professor or a class you’ve taken that has had the most impact on you?

Dr. Fortenberry is my research advisor and has always been incredibly supportive. Both through research opportunities and by supporting what I want to do in the future. Anyone thinking about undergraduate research should get involved!

What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?

I loved being able to help with Spooky Physics Night last year which is a Halloween themed demo show that the Physics Department puts on every year for the community. It is so much fun to help put together the demos and see the department come together to put on the show each year.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What are your career goals/ plans for postgraduation?

After graduation I hope to continue to graduate school for a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics. I want to go into a career in Computational Chemistry research, but a lot of the time the research I am interested in crosses into Physics, so I want to make sure I have a strong foundation.

Apart from school, how do you spend your time in Oxford? What are your hobbies, favorite places to go, etc.?

There are a lot of coffee shops around town that are fun to study at! I also love going to the local farmers market on Tuesdays!

What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)?

I would tell incoming freshman to go for what ever you are interested in, whether that be an interesting class or an organization or a research opportunity. College is a great opportunity to try out new interests


Also see our “Featured Undergraduate Student” page.