Kenneth Heller

Kenneth Heller

Kenneth Heller

Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy


Physics And Nanotechnology Building
Room 348
115 Union St. Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Physics Education Research Group

Ph.D., University of Washington, 1973

B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1965 

Professional Background
  • Instructor, APS/AAPT/AAS/AIP New Faculty Workshop 1996 - present
  • NRC Committee, Disciplined Based Education, 2010-2012
  • Physical Review PRST Editorial Board 2005-2010
  • Associate Head, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, 1998-2010
  • APS Committee on Public Policy, 2006-2009
  • NRC Steering Committee, Innovations in Undergraduate STEM Education, 2008
  • AIP Governing Board Chair Selection Committee 2008
  • Advisory Committee APS/AAPT Graduate Education Conference, 2007-2008
  • APS Council, 2006-2008
  • AIP Board of Governors 2005-2008
  • President, American Association of Physics Teachers, 2006
  • AIP Nominating Committee, 2006
  • College Board Advanced Placement Physics Commission, 2005-2006
  • American Journal of Physics Editorial Advisory Board 2003-2006
  • Chair APS Szilard Award Committee APS, 2004
  • NSF Committee of Visitors, 2003
  • Chair, APS Forum on Education, 2000
  • Fermilab User’s Executive Committee, 1984-1986, 1999-2000
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, 1992-1998
  • Fermilab Board of Overseers, 1988-1992
  • Board of Trustees, Universities Research Association, 1985-88
Scientific & Professional Societies
Fellow, American Physical Society (APS)
American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
American Astronomical Society (AAS)
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Research Interests

My research involves determining the characteristics of the fundamental interactions of the Universe using both accelerator and non-accelerator techniques. In other words, High Energy Particle Physics. Currently my research focuses on neutrinos.

Neutrinos are one tool to investigate the origin of mass and perhaps the origin of our universe. Recently some of the major puzzles in nature have been explained because neutrinos are not massless particles. Massive neutrinos oscillate from one type of neutrino to another while in flight. The NOvA project shoots a beam of neutrinos through the Earth from Fermilab to our Neutrino Laboratory in Northern Minnesota and detects the identity of the neutrinos. This long baseline neutrino oscillation experiment is now being built to investigate the difference between neutrinos and anti-neutrinos by studying electron neutrino oscillations, to determine the ordering of the neutrino masses, and to make a precision measurement of the mixing between muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos. This experiment will also be able to detect neutrinos from a supernova in our galaxy.

I was also involved in the experiment that discovered the last particle in the Standard Model, the tau neutrino. The first results were published in 2001.

Since I teach at a University, I am also interested in the most effective way to assist students in learning Physics. In particular our Physics Education Research Group is investigating better ways to teach physics through problem solving.

Honors and Awards
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2012
  • George Taylor Distinguished Teaching Award, 2011
  • College of Science and Engineering Distinguished Professor, 2007
  • Institute of Technology Outstanding Professor, 1999
  • Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor, 1997
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (APS), 1996
  • George Taylor Outstanding Research Award, 1988
Selected Publications
  1. NOvA Collaboration, New constraints on oscillation parameters from appearance and disappearance in the NOvA experiment, Physical Review D (2018)
  2. NOvA Collaboration, First measurement of electron neutrino appearance in NOvA, Physical Review Letters (2019)
  3. C. Crouch, K. Heller, Introductory physics in biological context: An approach to improve introductory physics for life science students, Am. J. Phys. 82, 378 (2014) [abstract]
  4. S. Singer, et. al., Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, National Academies Press (2012)
  5. T. Adams, et al., Renaissance of the 1 TeV Fixed Target Program, Int J. Mod. Phys, A25,777-813(2010) [abstract]
  6. MINOS Collaboration, Measurement of Neutrino Oscillations with the MINOS Detectors in the NuMI Beam, Phys.Rev.Lett.101,131802 (2008)
  7. MINOS Collaboration, The Magnetized steel and scintillator calorimeters of the MINOS experiment, Nucl.Instrum.Meth.A596, 190 (2008)
  8. MINOS Collaboration, A Study of Muon Neutrino Disappearance Using the Fermilab Main Injector Neutrino Beam, Phys.Rev.D77, 072002 (2008)
  9. DONUT Collaboration, Final tau-neutrino results from the DONuT experiment, Phys. Rev. D78, 052002 (2008)
  10. E. E.Yerushalmi,C. Henderson, K. Heller, P. Heller, V. Kuo, Physics faculty beliefs and values about the teaching and learning of problem solving. I. Mapping the common core,, Phys. Rev (2007) [abstract]
  11. MINOS Collaboration , Observation of Muon Neutrino Disappearance with the MINOS Detector in the NUMI Neutrino Beam, Physical Review Letters (2006)
  12. Charles Henderson, Edit Yerushalmi, Vince H. Kuo, Patricia Heller, Kenneth Heller, Grading student problem solutions: The challenge of sending a consistent message, American Journal of Physics Vol72, pp. 164-169 (2004) [abstract]
  13. DONUT Collaboration (K. Kodama et al.) Minnesota authors: D. Ciampa, C. Erickson, M. Graham, Kenneth J. Heller, R. Rusack, R. Schwienhorst, J. Sielaff, J. Trammell, J. Wilcox, Observation of Tau Neutrino Interactions, Physics Letters B (2001) [abstract]
  14. P. Border, P. Cushman, Kenneth J. Heller, D. Maxam, J.K. Nelson, K. Ruddick, R. Rusack, R. Schwienhorst, T. Berg, T. Chase, M. Hansen, C. Bower, R. Hatcher, R. Heinz, L. Miller, S. Mufson, A Large Liquid Scintillator Detector For A Long Baseline Neutrino Oscillation Experiment., Nuclear Instruments and Methods (2001) [abstract]
  15. AS Carroll, DS Barton, G Bunce, S Gushue, YI Makdisi, S Heppelmann, H Courant, G Fang, KJ Heller, Marvin L Marshak, Michael A Shupe, JJ Russell, Nuclear Transparency to Large-Angle p-p Elastic Scattering, Physical Review Letters (1988)
  16. K Heller, PT Cox, J Dworkin, OE Overseth, P Skubic, L Schachinger, T Devlin, B Edelman, RT Edwards, G Bunce, R Handler, R March, P Martin, L Pondrom, M Sheaff, Polarization of Λ's and Λ¯'s Produced by 400-GeV Protons, Physical Review Letters (1978)
  17. G Bunce, R Handler, R March, P Martin, L Pondrom, M Sheaff, K Heller, O Overseth, P Skubic, T Devlin, B Edelman, R Edwards, J Norem, L Schachinger, P Yamin, Λ^0 hyperon polarization in inclusive production by 300-GeV protons on beryllium, Physical Review Letters (1976)