David O.Hestenes

Dr Hestenes serves as Director of the Science Modeling Institute (SMI) and member of the Academy Board of Directors. He is leading the launch of SMI and will manage the development and expansion of its modeling instruction programs.

Dr Hestenes is a theoretical physicist and science educator. For more than 30 years he was on the faculty of the Department of Physics at Arizona State University (ASU), and is now an Emeritus Professor of Physics. He specialized in mathematical and theoretical physics, geometric algebra, neural networks, and cognitive research in science education.

Dr Hestenes is best known as chief architect of geometric algebra as a unified language for mathematics and physics. In recognition of this work, he was designated Foundations of Physics Honoree in 1993. He is also acknowledged as founder of Modeling Instruction, a research-based program to reform K–12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. He was awarded the 2002 Oersted Medal by the AAPT and the 2003 Education Research Award by the National Council of Scientific Society Presidents for contributions to physics education. He has been a principal investigator for NSF grants seeking to teach physics through modeling and to measure student understanding of physics models at both the high school and university levels.

As a NASA Faculty Fellow and later as a NASA Consultant, Dr Hestenes worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on orbital mechanics and attitude control. There he applied geometric algebra in development of new mathematical techniques published in a textbook/monograph called New Foundations for Classical Mechanics.

Dr Hestenes obtained his Ph.D. from UCLA with a thesis entitled Geometric Calculus and Elementary Particles. Shortly thereafter, he recognized that the Dirac algebras and Pauli matrices could be unified in matrix-free form by a device later called a spacetime split. Then he revised his thesis and published it in 1966 as a book, Space Time Algebra, now referred to as spacetime algebra (STA). This was the first major step in developing a unified, coordinate-free geometric algebra and calculus for all of physics. Since that time, geometric algebra has been widely applied to most branches of physics and much of engineering and computer science.

Dr Hestenes is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Overseas Fellow of Churchill College at Cambridge. He has been a UCLA University Fellow, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA Faculty Fellow, and Senior Fulbright Fellow.

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