Kenneth McLaughlin  PhD

Professor of Physics and Engineering
Heitkamp Planetarium Director


BS, University of Arkansas, 1979
MS, Texas A & M University, 1983
PhD, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 1995

Curriculum Vitae

I grew up in the South; my dad was in the Air Force so we moved a few times until we settled next door to my grandfather’s farm where I helped raise horses, cattle, pigs and goats.  I could ‘shoe’ my horse by the time I was thirteen and I have a nasty scar from an early mishap.

My Boy Scout troop was a fully ‘mounted patrol’ with our horses accompanying us on every campout and we rode in the state fair and major parades every year.  Growing up in rural settings, I became fascinated with the night sky.  When I learned that we can decipher what the stars are made of by analyzing their starlight, I was hooked on interpreting the natural world in terms of the atoms and molecules from which things are made of.

I have spent multiple summers and many spring and winter breaks investigating the atomic realm by running experiments at Berkeley National Laboratory.  I am also involved in astrophysics research, spending clear nights under the stars in our campus observatory.  These research projects have been funded by multiple National Science Foundation grants as well as Iowa College Foundation grants along with grants from Verizon and the Alliant Energy Foundation.  Students have taken part in planning and accomplishing this research as well as co-authoring peer-reviewed publications as well as presenting at national and regional conferences.