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New Member Spotlight: Gretchen Lee and Marion C Thurnauer

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Welcome New Honorary Member:  Gretchen Lee

As University of Colorado’s Director of Engineering Scholarships for the College of Engineering and Applied Science, Gretchen Lee recently retired from 23 years of directing and managing scholarships using donor criteria for scholar selection. Her job required finding students whose qualifications perfectly matched the often “very unique” award criteria stipulated by scholarship donors -- a job she likens to “finding a needle in a haystack.” 
The task involved over 2000 scholarship awardees annually.  Each student applicant was initially evaluated to determine eligibility for available scholarships, and then again reviewed each subsequent year for continued eligibility.  Gretchen calls the job rewarding and fascinating. It gave her “the opportunity to meet, and work with truly wonderful students and scholarship donors”.  
It was through this process that in 1999 Gretchen met ARCS Colorado Chapter members Ann Lowdermilk and Lyda Ludeman who explained the ARCS mission and criteria for ARCS scholarship awardees. That meeting in 1999 began a twenty-year friendship between ARCS Colorado Chapter members and Gretchen. Gretchen made a world of difference to literally hundreds of ARCS scholars. In recognition of her dedication to ARCS and its scholars Gretchen was made an Honorary Member of the ARCS Colorado Chapter.  
Gretchen was born in Pierre, South Dakota and raised on a ranch near the beautiful Black Hills. She came to the Denver area in 1970 to attend school and, like so many of us, ended up staying. Gretchen and husband, Dave, live in Broomfield, and have three children and five grandchildren to spoil.

Welcome New Member:  Marion C. Thurnauer, Ph.D.

Marion Thurnauer was destined to become an ARCS member and the Colorado Chapter is the lucky recipient of her deep, rich history of promoting science to young scholars, especially young women. She credits her dedication to science to a family full of scientists, including her father, a ceramic engineer, and an aunt, who was an astrophysicist.  Fascinated by biological processes her career-long studies focused on the photophysics and photochemistry of natural and artificial photosynthesis.  Oxygenic photosynthesis is the main process providing energy to the biosphere of the planet, creating the protective ozone layer and consuming carbon dioxide.

The University of Chicago was the source of her B.A., MS and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. The final experiments for her thesis were conducted at the Argonne National Laboratory, a serendipitous event that led to a career at the laboratory where she is currently a Senior Scientist Emeritus. During her tenure at the Laboratory, she became the first female Director of the Chemistry Division and subsequently an Argonne Distinguished Fellow Emeritus.  She is the author or coauthor of more than 135 publications and 4 patents.

Her numerous awards and honors include the University of Chicago Award for Distinguished Performance at Argonne, election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal.  The Argonne Director’s Award recognized her early efforts in organizing the now annual, Science Careers in Search of Women Conferences. Her dedication to science education was recognized with the award of the University of Chicago-Argonne Pinnacle of Education Award and the Council of Chemical Research’s Diversity Award.