Michelle Fluckey Thomsen is remembered by James Van Allen, her major professor at the University of Iowa, as being "among the very best of the graduate students that I have had during my 34 years at the UI. She is clearheaded, hard-working, and highly competent. She writes well, speaks well and has the killer instinct for what is significant. She gets results."
While pursuing an M.S. degree at the UI, Thomsen was part of a team of scientists analyzing data from the historic Pioneer 10 spacecraft's flight to Jupiter. She received her M.S. degree (1974) and her PhD degree (1977) from the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy, and held a post-doctoral research appointment here from 1977 to 1980. She then left Iowa to continue her studies at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Aeronomie in Lindau, West Germany. Dr. Thomsen has been a permanent staff physicist in the Earth and Space division of the Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1981.
Her PhD thesis, titled "On Determining a Radial Diffusion Coefficient for the Observed Effects of Jupiter's Satellites," is considered a standard reference in the field and has been widely distributed. She has also published over forty articles in a variety of scientific journals.