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Augsburg's Matt Klatt Named For Top Student Research Award in Physics

Sept. 13, 2000

Matt Klatt, an Augsburg College senior from North Branch, MN, has been selected for one of the top student awards presented nationally by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), considered the leading scientific society in the U.S. in the field of Space Physics.

Klatt was selected for an Outstanding Student Paper for a poster presentation he made at the AGU's June 2 Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. He was the only undergraduate selected for the prestigious honor. The other 11 winners were graduate students in major research institutions throughout the United States and Canada.

Klatt's poster presentation grew out of research he has been doing in Space Physics with Dr. Mark Engebretson. Klatt came to Augsburg, in fact, because of the research opportunities the College offered -- something he had first observed when his older brother Eric was an Augsburg student, also working with Professor Engebretson.

While Klatt's paper, titled "Under What Conditions do Solar Wind Compressions Stimulate Pc 1-2 Pulsations in the Outer Dayside Magnetosphere?" was technical in nature, it was the clear, concise manner in which he presented the work that won him accolades for it.

"I was studying how the solar wind presses against the earth's atmosphere and then what effect that has," Klatt explained.

"Basically, what this means, is that when particles from the sun intensify, there's a 'squeezing' of the space environment around the earth," Engebretson added. "One consequence of this effect is the formation of plasma waves, or 'pulsations,' and another is what we know as northern and southern lights. Matt's study gave real quantitative information about how this activity works and at the same time eliminated any puzzlement about what is going on."

Dr. John Dickey, Director of Outreach and Research Support for AGU, noted in a letter to Matt that, "Your presentation set an example for your fellow students and the entire AGU membership."

And, Dr. John W. Meriwether, Aeronomy Program Director of the National Science Foundation, noted: "When we did our judging (of the student presentations), we did not pay any attention as to whether the presenter was a graduate or undergraduate student. So, an undergraduate received no special consideration in our review process, which speaks even more to the quality of Matt's work."

Klatt said he plans to continue with the research. "My next goal is to help
complete a paper (along with Engebretson and four others) that can be published about the work. After graduation, I'd like to go on to graduate school in electrical engineering."

Engebretson said Klatt, who also wrote some of the computer software used to display the research data, will be the second author (after himself) on a multi-author paper, another "honor" in itself based on the credentials of his fellow authors. The other authors are major researchers and active scientists at such institutions as UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Lockheed, and the University of Iowa.