Physics and Astronomy Board

The Physics and Astronomy Board (PAB) was established in 2006 . Its primary role, as approved by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is as follows: the Physics & Astronomy Board (PAB) will advise & assist the Department of Physics and Astronomy with their stated mission of education, research, and service by contributing their time, talent, and financial support. Specifically, the PAB shall:
  • assist and advise the Department in maintaining effective communication with alumni of the Department;
  • advise faculty and students on current and future trends in Physics and Astronomy;
  • assist and advise the Department on fund-raising efforts and aid in the identification of future sources of support;
  • assist with equipment and facility needs.

The PAB was initially established with 6 members and met for the first time in Spring 2007. Board membership expanded annually until membership of 10 was attained in Spring 2010. In Spring 2013, the PAB was restructured and expanded. It now includes a Board Chairperson and four subcommittees: Fundraising, Industry/Government Labs, Student Affairs, Alumni Relations. Each subcommittee has four members, including a chairperson, and a faculty liaison. Members of the Board can be communicated with by email either individually, using the addresses listed below after each bio, or by contacting the Department at The year for completion of their term on the Board is listed after the name of each member below. Upon completion of a term, Board members are designated as Associate Members of the Board.

Ramona Kessel

Van Allen Probes Program Scientist
Magnetospheres Discipline Scientist 
SMD, Heliophysics Division 
NASA Headquarters 
300 E St. SW
Washington, DC 20546-0001
Dr. Kessel received her BS in Physics from Baker University in 1978, followed by MS and PhD degrees in Physics from KU in 1984 and 1986, respectively. After brief stints in England and Atlanta, she joined NASA in 1991. She has developed a broad range of research interests that include many areas of heliophysics: interplanetary shocks, comets, and Sun-Earth connections spanning the bow shock, magnetopause, and inner magnetosphere dynamics, and including reconnection, turbulence, and space and ground-based ULF waves. Dr. Kessel moved to NASA HQ in 2006 and is the Program Scientist for the Living With a Star mission Van Allen Probes that launched in 2012 and is rewriting text books on properties of charged particles that comprise the Earth’s radiation belts, the plasma waves that interact with them, the large-scale electric fields that transport them, and the magnetic field that guides them. Dr. Kessel has also been very active in educational work, including a role as the writer/producer on a 28-minute educational film entitled The Milky Way's Invisible Light.
W.B. Anderson
Chair - Alumni Relations
Vice-President for Product Engineering, Retired
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Mr. Anderson graduated from KU in 1967 with a BS in Engineering Physics. After joining General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) in 1967, he obtained an MS degree in 1971 from Southern Methodist University. Mr. Anderson retired from Lockheed Martin in 2005 after 38 years with the company and involvement in numerous projects. His three most recent positions were vice-president of engineering, vice-president of the F-16/F-2 production business group, and vice-president of customer support. Mr. Anderson resides in Ft. Worth, Texas with his wife, Lauren, also an alumnus of KU.
Tom Armstrong
Chair - Student Affairs
Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy
University of Kansas
Dr. Armstrong received a BS in Physics from the University of Kansas in 1962, followed by an MS and PhD from the University of Iowa in 1964 and 1966, respectively. After postdoctoral appointments at the University of Iowa and Culham Lab in the United Kingdom, Tom joined the KU Department of Physics and Astronomy as an assistant professor in 1968. His prolific research career garnered numerous awards and focused on space physics, with heavy involvement in NASA space missions ranging from the Mariner Mars missions of the 70’s to the Saturn Cassini mission in 1998. Tom retired as Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy in 2002 to work full-time on his company, Fundamental Technologies, LLC.
Tom Laming
Chair - Fundraising
Sr. Vice President & Lead Portfolio Manager Scout Investments
Tom Laming received his BS in Physics from KU in 1981. After working at the Johnson Space Center on problems associated with shuttle navigation, he received a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then joined TRW in Redondo Beach, California, working in spacecraft design. In 1987 he joined Marietta Marietta in Denver continuing work on the Strategic Defense Initiative program. After completing an MBA at Indiana University, Tom became the technology analyst for Waddell and Reed in Kansas City, and eventually, Portfolio Manager and Chief Equity Strategist for Buffalo Mutual Funds. He subsequently became President and Chief Investment Officer with TrendStar Advisors, a firm he co-founded and eventually sold to UMB Financial. Today, he is Senior Vice President and Lead Portfolio Manager with Scout Investments, a wholly owned subsidiary of UMBF.
Colleen McKee
Chair - Industry/Government Lab Liaison
Principal Engineer, Engineering Staff
SES Engineering
Ms. McKee earned BS and MS degrees in Physics from KU in 1987 and 1988. She then joined the Honeywell Defense Avionics Systems Division in Albuquerque, New Mexico moving to Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, AZ in 1990 to lead a Boeing 777 avionics validation simulator development team. In 1993, Ms. McKee was recruited by Lockheed Martin in Princeton, New Jersey. After launching the EOS Terra spacecraft ( ) in 1999, Ms. McKee joined SES Engineering ( Ms. McKee enjoys maintaining the attitude control subsystems on a large diverse fleet of communications satellites, also supporting spacecraft operations and procurement with frequent domestic and international travel.
Michael Allen
Exxon-Mobil Corp.

Mr. Allen graduated from Iowa State University in 1981 with a BS in Physics and received an MS degree in Physics from KU in 1984. He worked as a technical translator of Russian and Japanese, editing journals of translations for the US government. He worked with the US Department of State as the coordinator of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission’s Regional Investment Initiative for the Russian Far East, and later as head of America Business Centers in Khabarovsk and Sakhalin for the US Department of Commerce. He joined ExxonMobil in 2001 as manager of government and public relations for its offshore projects on the island of Sakhalin. He was posted to Tokyo in 2008-2012 as manager of government and public relations for the ExxonMobil Japan Group, and was active in emergency response during the 2011 earthquake / tsunami and a major divestment for the group in 2012. He is now posted to ExxonMobil’s office in Northern Virginia, and is responsible for issue management teams in water, sustainability and advanced fuels/vehicles.

Alumni Relations
Professor of Physics
University of Arizona

Dr. Barrett received his BS in Physics at KU in 1961. He went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University in 1967. After post-doctoral research associate positions at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and at the University of Pittsburgh as an Andrew Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow, Dr. Barrett joined the faculty at the University of Arizona as an Assistant Professor in September 1970. In 1976 he was promoted to Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona. His research interest centers on nuclear-structure theory, mainly on microscopic theories of nuclear structure utilizing the large-basis, no-core shell-model approach and the quantum many-body theory of effective interactions and operators. Other investigations include the microscopic interpretation of the Interacting Boson Model for nuclear collective motion and its applications and extensions. Dr. Barrett was an APS Council member 2009-2012 and has been an APS Fellow since 1987. In 2012, he was appointed to the U.S. Liaison Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

Rebecca Chaky
Electrophysics Engineer, Boeing, Saint Louis
Dr. Chaky received her BS degree in Physics from the University of Central Florida in 1974. She obtained her MS and PhD in Physics from the University of Kansas in 1976 and 1981, respectively. Dr. Chaky spent six years as a Section Head at Northrup Grumman, and attended the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. In 1987 she joined Boeing in Seattle WA, later moving to Houston TX to work on International Space Station. In 1995 she founded Never Done Press. Involved in handwork and “women’s arts” since an early age, Rebecca has quilts on display in the Leavenworth Public Library; a mathematical quilt website,; two designs for yarn swifts on blogspot as webeccasays; and her quilt pattern drafting tool, GridSource. Rebecca currently works in electrophysics for Boeing in Saint Louis MO. Rebecca is a cousin to Amelia Earhart, and is docent, trustee, and treasurer for the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison KS. Rebecca is currently pursuing grants for the museum, and is working with several associates across the country on upcoming patents.
Ron Gilliland
Student Affairs
Astronomer Emeritus, STScI
Dr. Gilliland received BS degrees in Physics, Math and Astronomy from KU in 1974. He obtained his PhD in Astronomy from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1979. After starting as a postdoc, and spending seven years on staff at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, he took up a position at the Space Telescope Science Institute from '88-'11. He recently took Astronomer Emeritus status from STScI, and an Adjunct Professorship at Penn State University, continuing research in asteroseismology and exoplanets with the Kepler Mission. Awards include a team share of the '07 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, and the 2012 Tinsley Prize of the AAS.
Brittany Henke
Student Affairs
Grad Student, Physics and Astronomy
University of Kansas
Brittany Henke graduated from KU in 2013 with a B.S. in Physics. During her undergraduate career, she studied quark-gluon plasma with Professor Michael Murray in the KU nuclear physics research group and at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Although she thoroughly enjoyed her time working with the CMS collaboration, she decided to switch gears as a graduate student at KU, entering the world of astronomy. She is currently working with Professor Gregory Rudnick in the extragalactic astronomy group, studying the trends of stellar population age with other galaxy physical properties. She was married in October 2013 and lives in Lawrence with her husband, Dakota, a graduate student in electrical engineering at KU.
Lindley Johnson
Industry/Government Lab Liaison
Program Executive-NEO, NASA
Lindley Johnson is assigned to NASA Headquarters Planetary Science Division as the Lead Program Executive for the Discovery Program of mid-class Solar System exploration missions, and the Program Executive for the Near Earth Object Observations Program. He attended KU on an AFROTC scholarship and graduated in 1979 with a BA in Astronomy. He also has a MS in Engineering Management from USC. Prior to NASA he served 23 years of Air Force active duty, obtained the rank of lieutenant colonel while working on a variety of national security space systems, and received 15 major individual and unit awards. After joining NASA, he was the Program Executive for NASA's Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1, launched in January 2005 to deliver an impact probe to the comet's surface on July 4, 2005 and explore the composition and interior structure of short-period comets. NASA's NEO Observations program has discovered almost 7,000 near-Earth asteroids and comets since Lindley became its manager, about 75% of the total known. Lindley received NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal for his work on comet and asteroid missions. Asteroid 5905 (1989 CJ1) is named Johnson by its discoverer to recognize Lindley's efforts in finding Near Earth Objects.
Doug McKay
Student Affairs
Professor Emeritus, Physics and Astronomy
University of Kansas
Dr. McKay received his BA in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1962 and his PhD in Physics in 1968, working with C.H. Albright at Northwestern University. He joined the KU Department of Physics and Astronomy as an Assistant Professor in 1970, rising to the rank of Full Professor in 1982. He is currently Professor Emeritus, maintaining an active research program in his long standing interests, elementary particle and particle astrophysics theory. An extensive list of his many publications can be found at SPIRES.

Data Systems Manager- retired
Dr. Pintar received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Physics at KU in 1969, 1970, and 1974 respectively. After a long career at Phillips Petroleum, he joined the National Optical Astronomy Observatories in Tucson as a Data Systems Manager where he worked until his retirement in 2007.

Alumni Relations
Research Associate
Dr. Robertson received her BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Physics at KU in 1996, 2001, and 2004 respectively. She currently lives in Utah where she continues her research in Space Physics with KU faculty long distance.
Joe Shields
Alumni Relations
Professor, Physics & Astronomy
Ohio University

Joe Shields graduated from KU with bachelors degrees in physics and astronomy in 1985.  He completed a PhD in astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, and his dissertation was awarded the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Trumpler Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Astronomy in North America. Shields held appointments as a postdoctoral research associate at Ohio State University and Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory.  He is currently a faculty member at Ohio University in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, a department similar in many ways to that at KU. Shields’ research interests include the properties of galaxy nuclei and the interstellar medium, which he studies with observatories on the ground and in space. At Ohio Shields served as department chair for six years, and is currently Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College.
Laura Stiles
Industry/Government Lab Liaison
Aerospace Engineer
Blue Origin

Dr. Stiles received a B.S. in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Aerospace Systems from the University of Kansas in 2008. She received an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder in Aerospace Engineering Sciences in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Her dissertation topic was the investigation of electrostatic inflation for deployment of membrane space structures. While in school, Dr. Stiles participated in internships at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Air Force Research Lab, Raytheon Aircraft, and CERN. She is now an aerospace engineer at the private human spaceflight company Blue Origin near Seattle, WA.
John Beacom
Associate Member
Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Ohio State University
Dr. Beacom received BS degrees in Physics and Math from KU in 1991. He obtained his PhD in Physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1997, studying solar neutrinos. After spending three years as a Fairchild Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech and four years as a Schramm Fellow at Fermilab, Dr. Beacom joined the faculty at Ohio State University in 2004 as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy; he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2007 and Professor in 2010. His research interests lie at the intersection of the fields of theoretical astrophysics, particle physics, and nuclear physics, concerning mostly neutrinos and supernovae.
Mike Hennessy
President, MTECH Laboratories, LLC
Dr. Hennessy received a BS in Engineering Physics at KU in 1967, followed by a PhD in Physics in 1972.  Dr. Hennessy served as Chief Scientist at Intermagnetics General Corp. in Latham, NY, until 2001, when MTECH Laboratories, LLC was founded to research, develop and commercialize spin-off technologies associated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MTECH Laboratories is located in Ballston Spa, NY, and works closely with high-tech companies, government agencies, universities, and hospitals.
Warren Legler
Associate Member
Physicist, Electrical Engineer -Retired
Dr. Legler received a BS in Physics from KU in 1952. He worked at the Naval Ordnance Test Station (since dubbed the Naval Weapons Center) for ten years.  Having taken a year out to attend MIT and receive a Masters of Science in 1960 (thanks to the Navy's sponsorship), in 1962 the Leglers moved back to Lawrence.  Warren received a Ph.D. from the Electrical Engineering program in the KU School of Engineering in 1969. After some brief teaching stints at KU and at the KU Medical Center, Warren entered the private sector, spending the bulk of his career as a Product Development Engineer at Allied Signal in Olathe until his retirement in 1996. He has been an active member of the KU community, having served recently on the Advisory Board of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Richard Sapp
Associate Member
Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy
University of Kansas
Dr. Sapp was born in Indiana in 1928 and educated in the Wilmington, Ohio public schools through 1946. He received BS degrees in Physics and Math from Wilmington College in 1949, followed by a PhD in Physics from Ohio State University in 1955, working on nuclear orientation in crystals at very low temperatures. After a two-year stint as a postdoctoral fellow at Rice Institute, Dick joining the KU faculty as an assistant professor in 1957. Dr. Sapp retired as a full professor in Physics and Astronomy in 1993, ending an extensive research career investigating low-temperature solid state magnetism and nuclear orientation. As professor emeritus, his time has been consumed by travel and reviewing some old, unresolved research problems. 
Ed Sion
Associate Member
Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Villanova University
Dr. Sion received a BA in Astronomy from the University of Kansas in 1968, an MA in Astronomy from KU in 1969, and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. His research interests include the  formation, structure and evolution of white dwarf stars, the physics and evolution of cataclysmic variable stars, and theoretical studies of accretion physics. In addition to his research and teaching responsibilities at Villanova, Dr. Sion serves as an Associate Editor of The Astrophysical Journal.

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