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K-State Today

July 18, 2022

Bolton to lead physics department

Submitted by Malorie Sougey

Tim Bolton, William and Joan Porter professor of physics, is the new head of the physics department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Bolton is an experimental high-energy physicist who has spent his research career performing experiments that have probed properties of the weak nuclear force. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from Stanford University in 1982 and his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988.

"I am honored and humbled to take on the physics department head role, and I am grateful for the support I have already received from colleagues in the physics department and across campus," Bolton said. "We face many challenges going forward, but we have a great team in the physics department that is ready to get to work."

Before coming to K-State in 1994, he held postdoctoral researcher and junior faculty positions at Columbia University. For the last decade, he has focused on measuring properties of neutrinos, one of nature's least understood building blocks, using the liquid argon time projection chamber detector technology.

For the past three years, he served in a full-time position on the project management team of LBNF/DUNE, a 3.1-billion-dollar science experiment being managed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of High Energy Physics. DUNE will create intense beams of neutrinos at Fermilab, a national laboratory near Chicago, and direct them toward the DUNE neutrino detectors located in a repurposed gold mine and the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota.

Bolton has co-authored more than 500 scientific papers. In addition to his research activities, Bolton served for two years as a program manager for the DOE Office of High Energy Physics in Germantown, Maryland; and he recently finished a three-year term as a member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, the sole organization authorized by Congress to advise the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation on matter related to high energy physics research.

Since arriving at K-State, Bolton has channeled most of his teaching efforts into introductory physics courses, serving as the lead instructor for Engineering Physics 25 times. He received a Commerce Bank Teaching Award in 2012. Bolton has mentored nine doctoral students and four postdocs while at K-State.

With colleagues from Ohio State University, he helped start the high-energy physics program on campus in 1994. He was part of the group that converted the university's old motor pool garage into a physics laboratory and secured the initial funding to start the K-State Electronics Design Laboratory in Burt Hall.

In 2002 he secured funding to launch the K-State Quarknet center, a science program for rural high school teachers in Kansas. In 2007, he led a multidepartmental collaboration that secured K-State Targeted Excellence funding to inaugurate the K-State Center for the Understanding of Origins. In 2017 he was named a Munson-Simi Faculty Star in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Bolton's service to the university includes terms on Graduate Council, the Arts and Sciences Committee on Planning and Faculty Senate.

"Dr. Bolton brings years of research, leadership and project management experience with the Department of Energy to his new position as physics department head," said Chris Culbertson, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "This experience, along with teaching introductory physics at K-State for more than 30 semesters, makes him a great well-rounded selection for this position."