“It’s amazing how behaviors like keeping an open mind, listening to customers, and having a good technical understanding can work together to yield some pretty cool discoveries.”
Young Scientist Challenge Role:
3M Business Unit:
Aerospace and Commercial Transportation Division
Meet Dr. Thunhorst. Dr. Kris Thunhorst is helping to fuel our lives – literally. As a lead research specialist in 3M’s Industrial Business Group Research and Development Laboratory, she collaborates closely between the Divisions and Corporate Laboratories to scout new technologies and coordinate research efforts with the most crucial development projects in the Divisions. Her previous position was in Aerospace and Commercial Transportation Division (ACTD), where she served as the technical team lead for the Compressed Natural Gas Pressure Vessel Products. Dr. Thunhorst was instrumental in the development of our nanoparticle matrix resin technology, which enables natural gas tanks to be lighter and have a larger volume than competitors’ products. That means truck fleets can switch from diesel fuel to cheaper, cleaner-burning compressed natural gas.
Since joining 3M 18 years ago, Kris has improved lives through her work in various areas including the Corporate Research Process Laboratory, Construction and Home Improvement Division, Optical Systems Division and Industrial Adhesives and Tapes Division. She has 18 issued patents to date and her work has been recognized with a number of awards including the Corporate Circle of Technical Excellence and Innovation in both 2011 (Individual) and 2012 (Team), the PSI Leadership award in 2012 and Best Overall Technical Paper Award at ACMA (American Composite Manufacturer’s Association) in 2011.
Kris enjoys making scientific principles both exciting and “real” for children through 3M’s Visiting Wizards program. She has also volunteered for a number years doing therapeutic horseback riding with injured children. Her degrees are in Chemical Engineering (BS from Purdue University, MS and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado) and she holds the honor of being selected as a National Science Foundation Fellow.