University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Remembering Kathryn Thomasson

Kathryn Thomasson
Kathryn Thomasson

Kathryn A. Thomasson, Professor Emeritus of chemistry, died Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, at her home in Grand Forks. She was 61.

Kathryn was born on Nov. 20, 1959, in Virginia, to John and Joan (Hallbeck) Thomasson.

Dr. Kathryn Thomasson spent her entire academic career at UND. She joined the UND faculty in August 1993 as an Assistant Professor, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1999, and was named a full Professor in July 2004. She retired May 15, 2020, and was named Professor Emeritus in June 2020. Dr. Thomasson has contributed significantly to all aspects of the UND mission: teaching, research and service.

She taught at the upper division and graduate levels in physical chemistry courses and undergraduate level primarily in the pre-nursing courses. Her expertise in computational biophysical chemistry made her eminently qualified for both tasks, and complemented the expertise of her colleagues for the betterment of the Department.

Dr. Thomasson was a productive scholar with 70 peer-reviewed research papers in journals as highly ranked as the J. Amer. Chem. Soc., J. Phys. Chem. and the Biophys. J. She was externally funded by the National Institutes of Health, with her last major grant ending in 2015, and supervised the Ph.D. dissertations of 4 students, the MS theses of 4 students and senior theses for 9 students. Dr. Thomasson  presented at 52 conferences at the national or international levels.

Complementary to her contributions in teaching and in research, Dr. Thomasson had a significant service impact both locally and to her profession. She has served on graduate committees of the many physical chemistry graduate students in the Department and was frequently asked to be a member of graduate student’s committees in other subdisciplines, which speaks to the quality of her professionalism; she was also a frequent outside committee member to graduate students in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Thomasson was Chemistry Department Director of Graduate Studies from 2008 to 2018.

At the national level, she was best known for her varied roles in Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry, with her highest roles being as (national) Treasurer in 2011–14, and as Director of Student Awards from 2015 onward. Dr. Thomasson was been a passionate supporter of women in the sciences, and, as even a casual perusal of her vita demonstrates, has served as a mentor, co-author, etc. for many a young woman.

Kat was a devoted student of gemstone therapy, a collector of healing gemstones, and had a special gift for working with them in giving healing sessions to others. Before she got sick she was working with a colleague to design experiments to help prove their validity as healing tools.

Kathryn enjoyed sewing, reading, practicing meditation, and trying new recipes.

Anyone who knew Kathryn felt her kindness instantly.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

She did not wish to have a memorial service, but many people are missing her, and plans are being made for a remembrance zoom meeting on April 9.