Michael R. Thoennessen

Michael R.   Thoennessen
  • University Distinguished Professor
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory


Michael Thoennessen, professor of physics, is highly regarded for his work in experimental nuclear physics at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). Thoennessen’s research focuses on the study of extremely neutron-rich nuclides. The exploration of these very exotic nuclides helps researchers 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 NSCL, one of the few facilities in the world where these nuclei can be explored. He is a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), and is the associate director for user relations at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB).

Thoennessen received his Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Thoennessen has served in many prominent roles, including as deputy executive director of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium; supervisory editor of the journal Nuclear Physics A; and associate director for education and nuclear science at the NSCL. His honors include the Physical Review Outstanding Referee Award; the American Physical Society’s Division of Nuclear Physics Mentoring Award; and Best Paper Award at the 2000 Frontiers in Education Conference. Thoennessen is also a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and is currently on leave from MSU serving as the APS editor in chief.