Carl Wieman, Ph.D.

Nobel Prize Winner, Professor of Physics and of Education

"Learning to make wiser decisions impacts all aspects of life for the better. It leads to better public policy choices, more effective leaders, better personal lifestyle choices, and a more effective workforce."


  • Cheriton Family Professor, and Professor of Physics and of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor
  • National Academy of Sciences: Former Chair of the Board on Science Education


  • Nobel Prize in Physics 2001, Nobel Foundation
  • Lorentz Medal, awarded every four years by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Carnegie US University Professor of the Year, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Oersted Medal, American Association of Physics Teachers
  • Yidan Prize in Education Research


  • An Accurate and Practical Method for Assessing Science and Engineering Problem-Solving Expertise
  • Expertise in University Training & the Implications for Teaching Effectiveness, Evaluation & Training 
  • What Do AP Physics Courses Teach and the AP Physics Exam Measure?


  • Stanford University, Ph.D., Physics
  • MIT, Bachelor’s Degree, Physics

For many years, Carl Wieman has been a thought leader in two fields of study—atomic and optical physics, and science education research. Along with two other scientists, he won a Nobel Prize in physics in 2001, when they achieved what was first predicted by Albert Einstein in the 1920s, a new state of matter under conditions of condensed matter physics.

Yet perhaps Wieman’s greatest achievement is his long-term pursuit of understanding how students learn about science, and helping to improve that methodology. In 2002, he founded PhET Interactive Simulations, a nonprofit open resource educational project. PhET (originally focused on Physics Education Technology) has designed, developed, and released over 125 interactive simulations in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, Earth science, and mathematics, with the goal to advance science and mathematics literacy education worldwide. PhET is now used nearly a million times a day.

At the University of British Columbia, Wieman led an $11 million initiative to improve undergraduate science education by having faculty adopt evidence-based, interactive teaching methods instead of employing traditional lectures.

Wieman worked with the National Academies of Science and Engineering to build a Board on Science Education, and served as its founding chair. He also persuaded the top physics journal in the country to create a separate journal for physics education research. Wieman was also appointed Associate Director of Science during the Obama administration in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.