Thomas Tretter

Thomas Tretter
Director, Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium, Professor, Science Education
Co-Director, Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Teacher Development

Department of Middle and Secondary Education
Room 289 - College of Education and Human Development
tom.tretter @

Dr. Tretter's curriculum vitae [PDF]

Educational Background

  • Ed.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004. Focus on secondary science education.
  • Teaching Certification (1993) in physics and secondary mathematics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Masters of Science (1987) in Electrical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. Concentration on control systems.
  • Bachelors of Science (1986) in Electrical Engineering and German Translator’s Certificate, summa cum laude, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Teaching Areas

  • Middle and High School Science Education
  • Graduate Topics in Science Education
  • Doctoral Research and Scholarly Development courses

Research Interests

  • Science Teacher Education
  • Undergraduate STEM education
  • Conceptions of scale and scaling in science
  • Learning with Data Visualizations
  • Applications of Quantitative Methodologies

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Boards: (2009-present) Journal of Science Teacher Education, (2007-2010) Journal of Research in Science Teaching, (2007-present) Journal of NanoEducation
  • Publications Committee (2012-2015), Association for Science Teacher Education
  • Institute for Education Sciences (IES) Principal Grant Review Panel member for Mathematics and Science Education funding program (2011-2014)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant Reviewer (2008-present)

Honors and Awards

  • 2010 National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Early Career Research Award
  • 2008, 2007, 2006 Kentuckiana Metroversity Award for Instructional Development
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award 2004, National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)
  • Teacher of the Year, Southern High School, Durham, NC (2000-2001)
  • Tau Beta Pi Fellow (nationally competitive engineering honor society fellowship) (1986-1987)

Professional Memberships

  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST)
  • Association for Science Teacher Educators (ASTE)
  • National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
  • Kentucky Science Teachers Association (KSTA)


  • Tretter, T. R., Jones, M. G. & Falvo, M. (2010). Impact of introductory nanoscience course on college freshmen’s conceptions of spatial scale. Journal of Nano Education, 2(1/2), 53-66.
  • Saderholm, J., & Tretter, T. R. (2008). Identification of the most critical content knowledge base for middle school science teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19(3), 269-283.
  • Tretter, T. R. (2008). Nanoscience and conceptions of size and scale in pre-college education. In A. E. Sweeney and S. Seal (Eds.), Nanoscale Science and Engineering Education. Stevenson Ranch, CA: American Scientific Publishers.
  • Tretter, T. R. (2006). Conceptualizing nanoscale. The Science Teacher, 73(9), 28-31.
  • Tretter, T. R., Jones, M. G., & Minogue, J. (2006). Accuracy of scale conceptions in science: Mental maneuverings across many orders of spatial magnitude. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(10), 1061-1085.
  • Tretter, T. R., Jones, M. G., Andre, T., Negishi, A., & Minogue, J. (2006). Conceptual boundaries and distances: Students' and experts' concepts of the scale of scientific phenomena. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(3), 282-319.
  • Tretter, T. R. (2005). Godzilla versus scaling laws of physics. The Physics Teacher, 43(8), 530-532.