Published: June 22, 2017

MSU Distinguished Professor named American Physical Society editor in chief

Contact(s): Karen King Facility for Rare Isotope Beams office: 517-908-7262

Michigan State University Distinguished Professor Michael Thoennessen has been named editor in chief of the American Physical Society. The APS editor in chief is responsible for all APS peer-reviewed research journals. Thoennessen assumes the position on Sept. 1, 2017. 

“Michael Thoennessen has a broad knowledge of physics, extensive leadership experience and the ability to work well with others. He is forward-thinking, especially regarding the future of our journals,” said Caltech professor of physics and 2011 APS president Barry Barish, who chaired the search committee. “We are very fortunate to have attracted him to become our next editor in chief." 

At MSU, Thoennessen is the associate director for user relations at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams and University Distinguished Professor of physics. Additionally, he has been deputy executive director of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium since 2015 and served as supervisory editor of Nuclear Physics A from 2004 to 2016. An APS Fellow, he received the Physical Review Outstanding Referee Award in 2013. 

Thoennessen earned his doctorate in experimental nuclear physics in 1988 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He served as a research associate at the Joint Institute for Heavy Ion Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1988 to 1990, before joining MSU in 1990 as an assistant professor.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment for Michael to be selected for this prestigious position and speaks to the outstanding physicist and researcher he is,” said Thomas Glasmacher, FRIB Laboratory director. “I am delighted Michael was chosen and confident he will do an outstanding job in this new role.”

Thoennessen’s research focuses on the study of extremely neutron-rich nuclides. While normal neutron-rich nuclei decay by converting a neutron into a proton in milliseconds or longer, these nuclides contain so many neutrons that they decay by emitting one or two of the excess neutrons in a zeptosecond, or one sextillionth of a second. The exploration of these very exotic nuclides help to understand the nature of the nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons into stable nuclei and rare isotopes. His group performs their experiments as part of the MoNA collaboration at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, one of the few facilities in the world where these nuclei can be explored.

“It is a great honor to be appointed as the APS editor in chief,” Thoennessen said. “I am looking forward to working with the excellent editors and staff at the APS offices and the APS leadership team.”

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Michigan State University Distinguished Professor Michael Thoennessen. Courtesy of MSU

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