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June 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Hawkins Shares Passion for Science, Prepares for Cambridge

By Jean Andrews
Physics & Astronomy

What happens to stars at the galactic center of the universe? Just how many planets exist in the Milky Way? How do stars behave around black holes?

These are the kinds of questions astrophysics major Keith Hawkins pondered as he prepared to graduate from Ohio University and move this summer to England. A British government Marshall Scholarship  will allow him to begin his doctoral research at Cambridge University, one of the top institutions in the world. The long line of brilliant theoretical physicists at Cambridge stretches from Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking.

How does a meeting at a state high school science fair help set Hawkins on a path to the  Department of Physics and Astronomy in Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences? How does a supportive family encourage an inquiring mind?

Filmmaker Jean Andrews from the Department of Physics and Astronomy teamed up with Robert Hardin, a photography instructor and graduate student in the School of Visual Communication to produce and direct a new mini-movie on Hawkins’ inspiration to study black holes. The producers were assisted by the College of Fine Arts School of Music graduate student Andrew Gross, who composed original music for the movie.

“There were so many awesome aspects to Keith’s story – we could have made a feature about him,” explained Andrews. “Keith has such a passion for science, and he’s such a well-rounded person. His life circumstances growing up and becoming the man he is today is what I think might inspire young people to reach for the stars.”

In addition to the Marshall Scholarship, Hawkins, a student in the Honors Tutorial College, received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to study at the California Institute of Technology. As an undergraduate, he has studied with Physics and Astronomy professors Markus Boettcher, Douglas Clowe, David Drabold, and Joseph Shields.

Astrophysics major Keith Hawkins, '13

Photo by Rob Hardin

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