Paul Pancella received his B.A. in Physics with honors (summa cum laude) from St. Louis University in 1981, where he was also initiated into ΦΒΚ. He received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Rice University in Houston, Texas (Ph.D. in 1987). After three years of post-doctoral research at the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility (IUCF), Pancella was appointed to the faculty of WMU in August of 1990. He became a full professor and chair of the Physics Department in July of 2002.
Pancella's research specialty is experimental nuclear physics. Most of his work has involved few-nucleon scattering experiments performed on the Cooler synchrotron storage ring at the IUCF in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a frequent contributor to the Physical Review and Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. Pancella is a member of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has a particular interest in promoting science literacy, and has worked with the Physics Club at WMU to make science accessible in the local community.
Dr. Pancella has had National Science Foundation support for his research work in the past. His most recent award funded the construction and testing of part of a new, high-efficiency neutron detector for the superconducting cyclotron facility at Michigan State (MoNA project). This project involved the active participation of undergraduate physics majors. He has served on several doctoral committees, and directed the thesis research of one Ph.D. and two Master's students in physics.
Pancella has also been active in the Faculty Senate at WMU, serving on its executive board as well as various councils and committees. He became the president of the senate in July of 2005 to serve the remaining year of then-president Tom Amos' term, who passed away. One of the founding members of Western's young ΦΒΚ chapter, (Θ of Michigan) Pancella served two years as that chapter's president. He is also on the executive board of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at WMU.
Outside of his job as a physics professor, Pancella's interests include choral singing, astronomy, philosophy of science, the International Peace Movement, numismatics, and human powered vehicles.