Minschwaner Selected For Endowed Chair In Physics

Minschwaner Selected For Endowed Chair In Physics

SOCORRO, N.M. – Dr. Kenneth Minschwaner has been selected to be the first-ever Marv Wilkening Endowed Professor in the Physics Department.

Minschwaner has made significant contributions to New Mexico Tech’s Physics Department since 1994, shortly after he completed his dissertation on radiative constraints on the atmosphere’s energy budget at Harvard’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Marvin H. Wilkening worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940s and then was a professor of physics for more than 40 years. He passed away in September 2006. He was an internationally recognized authority on radon gas, atmospheric ions and radioactive aerosols, author of more than 35 papers and a book, and active member of numerous state, national, and international committees.

Dr. Richard Sonnenfeld supported Minschwaner’s nomination for the Wilkening Endowed Chair. He said, “Ken has always been deeply committed to students both in the classroom and in his research lab, and has excelled at teaching undergrads and graduate students in basic physics and the physics of climate and the atmosphere.

Minschwaner won the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1998. More recently, responding to Tech’s Living Learning Communities program, Minschwaner designed a custom laboratory course on energy and climate targeted at engaging freshman with limited math backgrounds in significant work as soon as they set their feet in the door.

“Ken’s personality is such as to drive positive change at our institute, while also maintaining a collaborative atmosphere across the multiple parts of our school that must work together to reify this change,” Sonnenfeld said. “His abilities as a collaborator and a diplomat par excellence helped him at the national level to steer the newly created American Physical Society committee on Climate Physics (of which he was elected treasurer) through contentious early waters.” 

Minschwaner was one of the roughly 2,000 scientists who contributed to the complete International Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

“Ken downplays this recognition of his work; he is much more interested in the science he does,” Sonnenfeld said.

– NMT –