Remembering Chemistry Faculty
Dr. Kathryn Thomasson
In honor and memory of Dr. Kathryn Thomasson, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of North Dakota (UND), Nov. 20, 1959 - Dec. 25, 2020.
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. 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.
Video Remembrance Honoring Dr. Thomasson
Dr. Thomasson's dedication to students and her passion for teaching made her the ideal person for advising and mentoring many students who have gone on to have successful careers. Anyone who knew Kathryn felt her kindness instantly. She had a special connection to international students from Cameroon, earning the nickname "Mama Thomasson." To honor her legacy and impact, several graduates of the Chemistry program came together to establish a scholarship endowment in Dr. Thomasson's name. To commerate this honor, colleagues and alumni gathered to celebrate the life of Dr. Thomasson and create a video remembrance to share her legacy with future generations of Chemistry students.
The Department of Chemistry is grateful for the endowment and for the lasting impact it will have on UND students.
Dr. Tao Yu
In honor and memory of the Dr. Tao Yu, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Dakota (UND), passed away unexpectedly and suddenly on June 13, 2021.
Tao Yu was born and raised in China. Upon graduating from Fudan University, he continued pursuing a Ph.D. degree at the University of Minnesota. Before joining UND, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an assistant professor at Tennessee Tech University. Tao was a talented chemist. Most people around him remember him as a kind-hearted and generous person who was always willing to help others. He was an inspirational figure and always acted as a big brother to new students and scholars. "The conversation with him always made me feel warm," as one friend described him. His thoughtful generosity toward others, his willingness to listen without judgment, and his quiet humor have positively touched many. He will be greatly missed.
The memorial fund towards endowment for scholarships and other department priorities started by Tao Yu's parents is greatly appreciated.
Dr. Neil Franklin Woolsey
In honor and memory of the Dr. Neil Franklin Woolsey, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of North Dakota (UND), who passed away in June, 2021.
Dr. Woolsey earned his Bachelor of Science for Chemistry at 1957 at the University of Portland OR and then PhD in Organic Chemistry while receiving a prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1961. His excellent academic performance earned Neil many accolades the prestigious Delta Epsilon Sigma fraternal order at Washington DC (1957), the Society of the Sigma Xi at UW, Madison (1960) and a rare Rhodes Scholarship for Chemistry placing him in the top 1% in the world post secondary chemistry students. He was invited to attended Imperial College at Oxford University in London England (1961-1963) where he worked with Professor DHR Barton (Nobel Prize winner in chemistry) to earn his PhD. In 1963 he became postdoctoral fellow at Iowa State University in Ames. Dr. Woolsey joined UND in 1965 as a Professor of Organic Chemistry (1965-1998) where he spent his teaching and research career closely working with Chemistry Students.