Hendrix Physics Prof Selected for Prestigious Kavli Institute

Todd TinsleyCONWAY, Ark. (January 18, 2011) – Hendrix Physics Professor Dr. Todd Tinsley was one of eight scholars recently selected to attend the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara for 2011-2013.

Tinsley will receive financial support for approximately three two-week visits to the Kavli Institute’s program for theorists at primarily undergraduate institutions.

The experience will pay significant dividends in the classroom and in the research lab at Hendrix, Tinsley said.

“Beyond the financial assistance, the real benefit is having the opportunity to work at one of the leading centers of theoretical physics in the world,” he said.

Tinsley – a Hendrix alumnus – has long believed that undergraduate liberal arts colleges constitute the best marriage of teaching and research.

“As a high school student, I only applied to liberal arts colleges,” said the Little Rock native and Catholic High for Boys graduate.

Though he originally set his sights on studying out of state, Tinsley was “thrilled” to find Hendrix to be “40 miles – but a world away – from home.”

“When I was a student here, I knew that the kind of instruction and support I got in the classroom and in the lab was superior,” he said of his advocacy of undergraduate institutions. “Those feelings only strengthened when I went to graduate school.”

Tinsley graduated from Hendrix in 1998 and received his Ph.D. in 2005 from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the Hendrix faculty in 2007 as an Assistant Professor of Physics, he was the Wiess Instructor of Physics at Rice University in Houston, Texas, a teaching post-doctoral fellowship he held for two years.

At Hendrix, Tinsley teaches the calculus-based General Physics I course, as well as Vibrations and Waves and Modern Physics. His current research focuses on supernova neutrino physics.

“The facilities, in particular, are light years beyond what I had when I was a student and make it a very fun place to work,” he said. “And with the students we have now … I don’t know if I would have been able to complete. They are top notch and ready to work. The level to which they are willing to be challenged is incredible.”

“There’s a big difference between observing research and being actively involved in the data analysis,” he said. “The depth of research here and level of involvement is unsurpassed.”

“I tell them, ‘If you aren’t discovering something that no one else in the world knows, you’re not doing research,’ and that’s what we do here,” he said.

Tinsley and his wife, Blake Armstrong Tinsley, a 1998 Hendrix alumna, live in Conway with their two daughters, Taylor, 5, and Toby, 2.

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is featured in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 371 colleges, was identified as the nation’s top “Up and Coming” liberal arts college for 2011 by U.S. News and World Report, and is ranked among 45 “Best Buy” colleges by the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.