Nobel Week Dialogue

20200917 Carl Wieman

Carl Wieman has done extensive experimental research in both atomic physics and science and engineering education at the university level. He received the Nobel Prize for his work on Bose-Einstein condensation.

Carl Wieman received his PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1977. He has held a joint appointment as professor of physics and of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University since 2013, and before that was at the University of British Columbia and University of Colorado. Wieman has done extensive experimental research in both atomic physics and science and engineering education at the university level. He has received numerous awards for both, including the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 and the Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year award for education in 2004. Wieman served as founding chair of the Board of Science Education of the National Academy of Sciences and was the founder of PhET, which provides online interactive simulations that are used 100 million times per year to learn science. He served as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House from 2010–2012.  

Wieman directed the science education initiatives at the Universities of Colorado and British Columbia, which carried out largescale change in teaching methods across university science departments. Wieman published a book on large scale change, Improving how Universities Teach Science; Lessons from the Science Education Initiative. He is currently studying expertise and problem solving in science and engineering, and how this can be better measured and taught. He is also studying intro physics labs, including showing and explaining the ineffectiveness of traditional ones, and how intro labs can be improved. Most recently, he has been awarded the Yidan Prize for educational research. 

More about Carl Wieman and the Nobel Prize in Physics 2001.