Kristin ThunhorstCategory: Research & Invention

After graduating from CU, Kristin Thunhorst joined the 3M Corporation in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she has had a distinguished career full of exceptional professional achievements and recognition. Thunhorst has spent her time at 3M working across divisions and developing projects in numerous areas including optics, materials, aerospace and energy.

She has had 22 U.S. patents issued, with numerous other patent filings pending, on products she has developed at 3M. She has led projects and new product development teams that have produced more than $200 million in revenue for 3M, and she has been selected for an unprecedented seven Circle of Technical Excellence and Innovation Awards. She received her first CTEI award only a year after starting at 3M. Two of the CTEI Awards (one for a team she led and one as an individual) were at the corporate level, where winning one is considered a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for a technical staff member.

Her R&D career is, in some ways, illustrated best by the accomplishments and recognition that she achieved in 2018 alone. She has both been promoted to staff scientist and selected to receive the American Institute of Chemical Engineering Industrial R&D Award. The position of staff scientist at 3M is the second highest technical rank within the company – there are only eight women among the more than 90,000 3M employees who are at Thunhorst’s rank or higher on the technical staff.

In addition to her vast technical achievements, Thunhorst is a committed and devoted mentor of scientists and scientists-to-be. At 3M, she spends time each week mentoring others of various ages. She has been active in mentoring CU Boulder students whenever someone from industry is needed to provide perspective and advice. Thunhorst has also organized alumni activities for CU Boulder in Minnesota, served as a liaison for research and giving solicitations, and facilitated CU’s participation in the 3M internship program for several years.