Peter Koehler Academic Assistant to the Dean



headshot

Contact

412-624-6880
Fax: 412-624-6885
3600 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Biography

Peter Koehler joined UHC in February 2012 as Academic Assistant to the Dean, interrupting his most recent career phase as Professor emeritus which began in September 2009. He came to the University of Pittsburgh in August 1986 as Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (recently renamed the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences). After stepping down as dean in 1998 Peter devoted the next 11 years to the teaching phase of his career in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He specialized in the introductory physics courses for scientists & engineers and for students in the life sciences. Jointly with colleagues from the departments of Chemistry and Neuroscience he also developed and taught a two-semester integrated introduction to the natural sciences for non-science majors. These teaching experiences led him quite naturally into pursuing Physics Education research during those years. In the spring of 2003 Peter sailed as Academic Dean with the Semester at Sea.

Peter grew up on a farm in post-war Germany where he learned to work with his hands from a young age, disassembling mechanical devices to find out how they worked. He came to the US right after completing high school in 1957. A part-time job in the Harvard cyclotron laboratory during his junior year was his first exposure to particle physics research, the specialty area which he explored for his dissertation at the University of Rochester. The period from 1967 to 1986 was largely devoted to research in experimental particle physics. Peter participated in a series of experiments at ever increasing energy and complexity, first at Argonne National Laboratory and then at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (both in Illinois); he also worked on an experiment at the DESY accelerator during a sabbatical year in Hamburg, Germany. During his years at Fermilab he also held a number of administrative positions, including Head of the Research Division.

During his retirement years Peter became actively involved as a volunteer algebra tutor and computer skills (Excel) instructor for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. He and his wife Sue like to travel, visit with their grandchildren, and attend concerts and plays. In his spare time Peter reads and spends time building or repairing things in his workshop.

Education

PhD, University of Rochester, 1967

MS, George Washington University, 1963

BA, Harvard College, 1960