• IPAC
Thomas Rutherford

Mr. Thomas Rutherford

Thomas Rutherford

Sullivan South High School, Kingsport, Tennessee

Grades or community reached

General Public: Amateur, 10, 11, 12


Mr. Rutherford has joined NITARP in 2013.




  • NITARP 2023 proposal review May 11, 2023

    Many people helped with the review of the 2023 NITARP teams' proposals. Thanks to you all! People at IPAC who helped included:

    • Judy Adler
    • Chris Gelino
    • Alex Greenbaum
    • Joyce Kim
    • Jessica Krick
    • Wanggi Lim
    • Julian Van Eyken
  • NITARP 2022 proposal review April 25, 2022

    Many NITARP alumni helped us out with reviewing the NITARP 2022 proposals. Scientists who helped include Chris Gelino, Mike Kuhn, and Julian van Eyken. Thanks to all!

  • NITARP 2020 proposal review April 27, 2020

    Despite the global pandemic, many NITARP alumni helped us out with reviewing the NITARP 2020 proposals!  Scientists who helped include Tiffany Meshkat, Patrick Lowrance, Mike Werner, Seppo Laine, and Julian van Eyken. Thanks to all!

  • NITARP 2019 proposal review April 16, 2019

    Many NITARP alumni helped us out with reviewing the NITARP 2019 proposals!  Scientists who helped include Tiffany Meshkat, Marja Seidel, Sergio Fajardo-Acosta, Mike Werner, and Julian van Eyken. Thanks to all!

  • Presentation at 2019 NSTA
  • April 2017 updates for Mr. Rutherford, Ms. Granucci, and Ms. Miller April 1, 2017

    Mr. Rutherford, Ms. Granucci, and Ms. Milller teamed up to give a presentation on NITARP at the NSTA meeting in Los Angeles!

  • March 2017 updates for Mr. Rutherford March 27, 2017

    Mr. Rutherford gave a talk about NITARP to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at East Tennessee State University. He also gave two presentations at the NSTA national meeting in Los Angeles, one of which was explicitly about NITARP.

  • April 2016 updates for Mr. Rutherford
  • January 2016 updates for Mr. Rutherford January 12, 2016

    Mr. Rutherford was on WCYB talking about NITARP!

  • NITARP 2015 proposal review April 30, 2015

    Many NITARP alumni helped us out with reviewing the NITARP 2015 proposals!  Scientists who helped include B. Berriman, J. Krick, P. Lowrance, P. McGehee, R. Millan-Gabet, B. Rusholme, and J. van Eyken. Thanks to all!

  • February 2015 updates for Mr. Rutherford February 9, 2015

    Mr. Rutherford and his student got some great local media coverage!

  • NITARP 2014 proposal review April 19, 2014

    Both NITARP 2014 teams submitted research proposals. Several NITARP alumni helped review them.

  • August 2013 updates for Mr. Rutherford August 29, 2013

    Mr. Rutherford and his team got some great local news coverage.

  • January 2013 updates for Mr. Rutherford January 31, 2013

    Mr. Rutherford is a new NITARP educator in 2013.

    On January 11, Mr. Rutherford has already given a talk about his NITARP and AAS experience at one of his local astronomy clubs. He was also featured prominently in the current edition of the school district's weekly newsletter, which goes out via email to all parents and teachers in the school system.

    Mr. Rutherford also got some local news coverage in the Kingsport Times-News on Jan 20.

  • 2013 class announced!


  • It’s addictive—this is not like any other program that you have ever been through, where you participate for a while and then finish up and then it’s just something that you did once. I have found that I don’t want to stop[...] A certain percentage of us, at least, can’t put this down once we are exposed to it.

  • My life has changed in some way because of my participation in this program. My wife, my children, and my co-workers have all remarked at how I am different now. I don’t know whether it was the program, the people that I worked with, or some combination of the two, but whatever it was something about it changed me. I know that “life-changing experience” was not one of the outcomes that you hoped for when you planned the program, but it is what happened with me. Thank you very much for allowing me to participate— this has been one of the best years of my life.

  • I will definitely be using the skills and the knowledge that I acquired in the NITARP program in the future for my own and for my future students’ research.

  • The students were also great to work with—not only mine, but those of the other teachers as well. They were a great bunch of kids to hang out with. It was really great getting to work alongside them instead of in the usual student-teacher sort of relationship—I’ll miss them, too.

  • I also found that I really enjoy the camaraderie that exists between me and the other teachers in my group—we fit together really well and enjoy one another’s company very much. I found that these teachers from other parts of the country were just like me in a lot of ways. I am somewhat sad in that since we are now alumni, there is a chance that I will never see them again because we live so far from one another, but I really hope that is not the case. We do have plans to continue the project together, but we don’t know for sure where that will lead.

  • I think that my NITARP experience is one of the best things that I have ever done in my life, both as an educator and as an individual. I have found that I really like doing research and plan to continue that in the future both with my students and as an individual.

  • The best thing about the trip was the chance to interact with others who are trying to do the same things that I am trying to do. No one else around me tries to do student research (even though I have tried to get other teachers involved), not in my district nor in any of the surrounding ones. It was great to spend time with other teachers (and their students) who are trying to accomplish the same things that I am trying to do.

  • I also learned that modern astronomy research is often conducted using vast databases of archived data collected years previously. When my past students did astronomy research projects, they used data that they themselves collected[..]. After working at Caltech with the group, though, I have come to realize that what my students have been doing previously were small projects compared to our AGN study—they were really just glorified lab activities. I have been giving a lot of thought to this since I returned home and am planning major changes in the sort of projects that my research students will be working on in the future.

  • [Because of a poster I saw at the AAS and] my participation in the NITARP program, I will be raising the standards for my students in the future.

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We're back from the Jan 2024 AAS and we had a grand time!