“Oh, people look around you the signs are everywhere.  You’ve

  left it for somebody other than you to be the one to care.”


        --from “Rock Me on the Water” by Jackson Browne

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    PHYS 1000 - How Things Work

    PHYS 2050 - University Physics I

    PHYS 7300 - Doctoral Dissertation




Professor Tanis received the Ph.D. in 1976 from New York University in the area of experimental atomic collision physics, investigating fundamental interactions between ions and atoms. He came to WMU in 1980 following postdoctoral appointments at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. He has been involved in a broad range of collision research, conducting studies at WMU using the tandem Van de Graaff accelerator as well as accelerators at several other laboratories in the U.S. and in Europe. Three times he spent sabbatical leaves at the Hahn-Meitner-Institute (now the Helmholtz-Zentrum) in Berlin, Germany and most recently at GANIL in Caen, France. During his career, Dr. Tanis has published more than 190 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented more than 470 talks or posters at national and international conferences. To support his research, he has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Research Corporation and NATO. In 1990 Dr. Tanis was elected to Fellowship in the American Physical Society, and in 1993 he received the University Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, the highest professional recognition for a faculty member at WMU. Two times he served as department chairperson, from 1989-1993 and from 1999-2002. Dr. Tanis enjoys teaching the department's large introductory courses, and in 2001 he developed a new course, PHYS 1000, entitled "How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life", and the associated laboratory. This course, based on the textbook of the same name by Louis A. Bloomfield, is nonmathematical in nature and is designed specifically for non-science liberal arts majors seeking a course to fulfill their general education science requirement. Dr. Tanis has taught this course every semester since its inception except for two semesters when he was on sabbatical. 




Dr. Tanis is active in the field of atomic collision physics, investigating interactions that occur in collisions between atomic particles. The major emphasis of this work at present is the investigation of the fundamental mechanism of radiative-double-electron-capture (RDEC) occurring in collisions with gaseous and solid targets. In this process two electrons are captured by an incoming projectile simultaneous with the emission of a single photon. This study is carried out at WMU with collaborators at the university and other laboratories, both nationally and internationally. The RDEC process was reported recently in Physical Review Letters based on work done at WMU. The project is supported by a grant from the NSF. Throughout the years Dr. Tanis' research has been supported extensively by the U.S. DOE, the NSF, the Research Corporation and NATO. Several graduate and undergraduate students have been involved in this research, and eleven have received the Ph.D. degree under his supervision, with two more currently in progress.


John A. Tanis
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008-5252
Phone (269) 387-4960
Fax (269) 387-4939 


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Physics Department

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1903 West Michigan Avenue
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Last Updated February 12, 2002