Tim Stelzer



Tim Stelzer

Primary Research Area

  • Physics Education


Professor Timothy Stelzer received his bachelor's degree in physics from St. John's University in 1988, and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. After working as a senior research assistant in the Center for Particle Theory at Durham University (UK), he joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois as a postdoctoral research associate in 1995. In 1998, he was promoted to a visiting assistant research professor and to an assistant research professor in 2000.

A high-energy particle theorist, Professor Stelzer has concentrated on standard model physics at hadron colliders. He has written extensively on top-quark physics and radiation in top events. In addition, he has developed computational methods that have dramatically reduced the difficulty of performing complex cross section calculations. He is the primary author of MadGraph®, a software program that automatically generates the Feynman diagrams and helicity amplitude code for tree-level standard model processes. Most recently, he has been working on a new program to predict how often rare new particles would be produced and also what signatures would distinguish these new particles from the large background of particles already known. He has developed a novel multi-channel approach that efficiently integrates any scattering amplitude to obtain the cross section of any desired process.

Research Statement

Professor Stelzer is a founding member of the Physics Education Group at Illinois, where he focuses on the effective use of technology to improve student learning. His innovations include

  • Mastery Inspired Online Activities
    Based on the principles of mastery learning, these activities provide students a structured online environment to iteratively practice, assess and improve their understanding of physics.
  • IOLab Wireless Lab System
    IOLab is a low cost easy-to-use device that wirelessly transmits data from a myriad of sensors to a student’s laptop. This system allows students to obtain high precision data in and out of the laboratory.
  • SmartPhysics Learning System
    SmartPhysics includes a complete set of prelectures for introductory physics designed around multimedia learning. Clinical studies have shown these prelectures to be more effective than textbooks in helping students learn introductory physics and are used by thousands of students across the US every year. Several other disciplines are using this system to deliver their own material under the flipit series.
  • i>clicker
    i>clicker is a wireless classroom polling system that has facilitated student-teacher interactions for millions of students around the world.


  • Rose Award for Excellence in Teaching 2015 (2015)
  • APS Excellence in Education Award 2013 (2013)
  • Arnold Nordsieck Award for Excellence in Teaching, Physics Department, 2011 (2011)
  • University of Illinois Distinguished Teacher-Scholar, 2009 (2009)
  • BP Amoco Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, 2005 (2005)

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Spring 2019PHYS 212
Fall 2018PHYS 212
Spring 2018PHYS 211
Fall 2017PHYS 211
Spring 2017PHYS 211
Spring 2016PHYS 212
Spring 2015PHYS 212
Spring 2012PHYS 211
Fall 2011PHYS 211
Spring 2011PHYS 211
Fall 2010PHYS 211
Spring 2010PHYS 211
Fall 2009PHYS 211
Spring 2009PHYS 212
Fall 2008PHYS 212
Spring 2007PHYS 101
Fall 2006PHYS 101
Spring 2006PHYS 101
Fall 2005PHYS 101
Spring 2005PHYS 101
Fall 2004PHYS 101

Related news

  • Outreach

The Physics Education Research (PER) group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the quality and accessibility of high school physics courses across the State of Illinois through a new program called the Illinois Physics and Secondary Schools (IPaSS) Partnership Program. The IPaSS program already kicked off its first intensive summer institute in mid-June, welcoming a small cohort of four physics teachers. The number of teachers in the IPaSS program will expand incrementally each year over the four years of grant funding, maxing out at 40 Illinois physics teachers.

The goal of the new program will be to provide high school students across the state with the highest quality high school physics experience, engaging students’ interest in STEM fields and preparing them to succeed at competitive research institutions like the U of I. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math—fields the U.S. government has recognized are a high educational priority for a strong tech-field workforce. The program will not only help align existing high school physics courses with university-level expectations, but will also provide support for under-resourced high schools to offer physics courses for the first time.

  • In the Media

Two CERN theoretical physicists have taken a page out of Google’s playbook in an attempt to better measure the impact of scientists and their published research. In a recent study published on arXiv, Alessandro Strumia and Riccardo Torre propose new metrics that use principles of Google’s PageRank algorithm, which determines the order in which websites appear in search results.

  • Outreach

It’s up to you and your team to save the free world from evil forces plotting its destruction, and you have precisely 60 minutes to do it. You must find out what happened to Professor Schrödenberg, a University of Illinois physicist who disappeared after developing a top-secret quantum computer that can crack any digital-security encryption code in the world.  Unfortunately, the previous groups of special agents assigned to the case disappeared while investigating the very room in which you now find yourself locked up, Schrödenberg’s secret lab.

LabEscape is a new science-themed escape room now open at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, testing the puzzle-solving skills of groups of up to six participants at a time. Escape rooms, a new form of entertainment cropping up in cities across the U.S. and around the globe, provide in-person mystery-adventure experiences that have been compared to living out a video-game or movie script. A team of participants is presented with a storyline and locked into a room with only one hour to find and decipher a sequence of interactive puzzles that will unlock the door and complete the mission. Two escape room businesses are already in operation in the area, C-U Adventures in Time and Space in Urbana and Brainstorm Escapes in Champaign.


  • Accolades
  • Physics Education Research
  • PER

Timothy Stelzer has received the 2015 Rose Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The award was presented at a College of Engineering faculty awards ceremony on Monday, April 27, 2015.


Head of Department and Professor Dale Van Harlingen comments, “There is indeed not an award at any level that includes the words 'teaching excellence' for which Tim should not be a leading candidate--his impact on understanding how students learn physics and how we should teach it has been immense at Illinois and beyond. His creativity, intuition, leadership, and staggering amounts of hard work have resulted in greatly improved student outcomes and instructor satisfaction in the calculus-based introductory physics courses that are taken by every engineering student and many others across campus. I can think of no one more worthy than Tim of receiving the Scott Rose Award."