For release: July 2, 2008


Pat Thiel, 515-294-8985
Kerry Gibson, 515-294-1405


Honorary Member Award from Women in Chemistry Honor Society

AMES, Iowa –Pat Thiel, Ames Laboratory Division Director for Science and Technology, received the 2008 Iota Sigma Pi Honorary Member Award from the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry on June 27 at the organization’s 29th Triennial Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Thiel is the 33rd recipient of the award which was established in 1921 and has gone to three Nobel Laureates, including Marie Curie.

“This is a very distinguished recognition,” said Ames Laboratory Director Alex King. “Iota Sigma Pi bestows only one Honorary Membership every three years, so it is very selective indeed.  Pat has been a consistent pioneer in the field of chemistry and certainly deserves the honor.  Ames Lab is proud to have her among its leaders.”

In addition to her service at Ames Laboratory, Thiel is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Iowa State University, where she is active in research, teaching, and administration.  In research, she is known for her work in three main areas: nanostructure evolution on surfaces; surface properties and structures of quasicrystals (a complex type of metallic alloy); and the chemistry of water adsorbed on metal surfaces. Thiel is an enthusiastic teacher of physical chemistry. She has held several administrative posts at ISU, including chair of her department, and in each of them she has been the first woman to hold that post.


She received her B.A. in chemistry at Macalester College, and her Ph.D. in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in 1981.  After postdoctoral work at the University of Munich as a von Humboldt Fellow, she joined the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, then moved to Iowa State University in 1983. In her early academic career there, Thiel was recognized with awards from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and by a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. Later, she was elected a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society, the American Physical Society, and the Institute of Physics.

She has been an Invitation Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, has received an Honorary Degree from the Institut National Polytechnic de Lorraine in France, and has received a DOE Award for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Materials Chemistry. She has served on numerous boards and committees for major organizations, including NSF, DOE, American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund, and National Institutes of Health, and has been a member of editorial advisory boards for 10 journals. She has organized conferences and symposia within the frameworks of the Materials Research Society, APS, ACS, AVS, and GRC organizations. She has authored or co-authored about 250 publications, and has co-edited 4 books.

Thiel isn’t the only person with ISU ties to receive this award. ISU alumna Darleane C. Hoffman, a famous nuclear chemist who confirmed the existence of Seaborgium - element 106 - received the award in 1993.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE by Iowa State University. The Lab conducts research into various areas of national concern, including the synthesis and study of new materials, energy resources, high-speed computer design, and environmental cleanup and restoration .