AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

2010 Election Candidate

Michael Thoennessen

Michael Thoennessen 

Michigan State University, Department of Physics & Astronomy and National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), East Lansing, MI 48824



M.S., Physics (1985) University of Cologne, Ph.D., Experimental Nuclear Physics (1988), SUNY Stony Brook

Professional Experience

Professor of Physics (1998-present) and Associate Director for Education, NSCL (2007-present), Associate Director for Nuclear Science, NSCL (2003-2007), Associate Professor (1995-1998), Assistant Professor (1990-1995), Michigan State University, Research Associate (1988-1990), University of Tennessee and ORNL


AAPT, American Physical Society, GSI Exotic Nuclei Community GENCO


GENCO Membership Award (2009), Fellow, American Physical Society (2005), Distinguished Faculty Award, MSU (2005), William Elgin Wickenden Award, ASEE (1999), Benjamin J. Dasher Award, ASEE/IEEE (1998), Teacher Scholar Award, CNS/MSU (1996)

AAPT Activities

Committee on Graduate Education (2005-2008, Chair 2006-2008), Meetings Committee (2007-2009), Governance Retreat (2007), Co-Organizer of the AAPT/APS Conference on Graduate Education in Physics: Which Way Forward? (2008), Hosted 2009 Meeting of the Michigan Section of the AAPT

Other Activities

Visiting Committee of the APS Gender Equity Project (2009-present), APS/DNP Education Committee (2007-present), DNP Mentoring Award Committee (2010), Committee on Publication Ethics (2008-present), APS Prize Selection Committee for Research in an Undergraduate Institution (2007-2008), SPIN-Up Site Visit Team (2002), Co-developer of CAPA and LON-CAPA, Michigan Science Olympiad State Event  Supervisor (1993-2003), Lecturer for summer programs for middle/high school students and teachers (1996-present)


This year’s AAPT summer meeting in Portland was again a great demonstration of the mission of the AAPT: to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. It was amazing to see the inspiring presentations and discussions as well as the enthusiasm of the participants. The continuing challenge is to expose more teachers to this environment so that they go back to their classrooms invigorated and inspire their colleagues. These meetings, other conferences, and workshops and the great journals are excellent tools developed by the AAPT over the years and should be strengthened even further in the future. With advice and help from the AAPT staff, volunteers, and all members, I plan to work on developing new tools and making them accessible to teachers and make sure that the AAPT continues to be the leader in physics education.