“Pat Thiel was interdisciplinary before interdisciplinary was cool,” said William Jenks, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, at a Sept. 18 memorial celebration for the world-renowned Iowa State scientist.
Thiel, a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, passed away earlier in the month, and family, friends, colleagues and students celebrated her at a tribute hosted on campus by Gordon Miller, University Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of chemistry, and the Iowa State chemistry department. “Interdisciplinary” was just one of the many words of obeisance used to describe Thiel, a Distinguished Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, professor of chemistry and faculty scientist at Ames Laboratory.
Thiel, recognized around the world for her research in nanostructures, surface science growth and structurally-complex metallic alloys, had a prolific record of leadership and recognition. She was the first woman to serve as chemistry department chair at Iowa State; the first woman awarded the American Vacuum Society’s Medard W. Welch Award, the society’s highest honor; and the first woman to receive the American Chemical Society’s Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry.
In recognition of her contributions, Iowa State University will name the north and south lobbies of Hach Hall in her honor; to be referred to as Thiel North and Thiel South. Forthcoming signage will reflect the names. Jenks noted the location was fitting, as Thiel had previously collaborated with artist Nori Sato to create the artistic design of the wall art of Thiel North. The art includes graphic references to some of Thiel’s research, which will provide a lasting visual reminder of her impact on the Department of Chemistry.