Equipped with a B.S. degree in Physics (1966) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Professor Siems spent four years in the U.S. Navy as an instructor of math, physics, and reactor physics at the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School and as a student at The Johns Hopkins University where he completed a M.S. degree (with high honors) in Physics. His Ph.D. in Nuclear Science was earned at Cornell University.
He came to Juniata in 1980 from Quincy College, where he was department chair. He chaired Juniata's Physics Department from 1984 until 1987, at which time he was granted a leave-of-absence to teach for a year-and-a-half in Malaysia for Indiana University. He chaired the Physics and Engineering Department in Malaysia, and returned there to teach during the summer of 1989. He once again serves as chair of Juniata's Physics Department (1998-).
His special academic interests are astronomy and nuclear physics. Also, he was involved from its inception in the interdisciplinary general education course, From Decadence to Disaster. In addition to teaching Juniata students, he has taught Elderhostel participants, students of J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital's School of Radiological Technology, and gifted children and teens in Juniata's New Visions and Voyages summer programs.
He is a member of the American Nuclear Science Teachers' Association, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). From 1996 to 1999, he was the Section Representative of the Central Pennsylvania Section of the AAPT, representing his region at national meetings and serving on the national organization's Council.
Throughout his teaching career, he has received numerous faculty development grants including grants to travel to the U.S.S.R. for a five-week Fulbright-Hayes seminar, to attend a two-week Summer Academy for the Advancement of College Teaching, and to participate in astronomy workshops at the University of Colorado and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
He promoted the acquisition of an observatory on campus, and in addition to sponsoring student research, has organized and/or conducted many astronomy programs for school children, scout groups, and local citizens. He has also served as a consultant for USA Network's TV program Inside Space. He is a volunteer with the local Emergency Management Agency.
He received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984 and the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1994. He is married to Anne, has two grown children, one a Juniata graduate, and five grandchildren.