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Employee Spotlight: Dr. Kristen Thoreson

Author: Dane Menke
Date: November 16, 2015

kristenlab_cropped Employee Spotlight: Dr. Kristen ThoresonAs Manager of REGENESIS’ Research and Development department, Kristen Thoreson oversees a team of dedicated specialists, with a primary focus of conducting research and development of new technologies, enabling REGENESIS in the remediation of contaminated sites. In addition, she and her department support the REGENESIS field sales team by providing key answer and solution support. As one would expect, working in the area of environmental remediation offers a wide variety of unique challenges that are always evolving and ever-changing, but for Kristen, she wouldn’t want it any other way. “We have a dual role”, says Kristen, “We actively support our technical sales staff, responding to questions regarding our existing technologies, new or uncommon contaminants, and unique applications. We are also continually driving to develop new products and improve our approaches to soil and groundwater remediation. It’s a matter of balance and pushing to develop cutting-edge environmental technologies. It’s true when I say the days are never alike.”

Working with the sales team and the technical engineers in the field seems to come naturally to Kristen, perhaps because she herself has spent a considerable amount of time doing field work- literally. “I grew up in Minnesota, and took an early interest in environmental chemistry in college, at the Univ. of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where I did two years of research analyzing for methylmercury in soil and water, as part of a study exploring a non-lethal procedure for measuring levels in fish. A part of this work allowed me to do field work, where we collected samples out of canoes on gorgeous lakes in Northern Minnesota.” To say Kristen is field-tested is an understatement, since on one such study she and her research group had to portage their own canoes and equipment over a mile to access a remote lake!

Her interest in environmental chemistry paved the way for her graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where she received her PhD and also returned to “Golden Gopher” country. “I continued with environmental chemistry in graduate school, where I researched the mechanisms of chlorinated ethene destruction by zero-valent iron and Vitamin B12 containing bacteria using molecular model complexes. A side perk of graduate school was the opportunity to continue doing field work that included multi-day sampling excursions across Lake Superior, working from a laboratory research vessel that was converted from a fishing boat, and also a four-day collaborative research project in Avalon Bay on Catalina Island.” Her background of combining environmental chemistry with her love of the outdoors led her to a profession where she is able to enjoy both. Kristen applies her extensive science background to real world applications, and in turn, develops and implements contaminant destroying technologies.

REGENESIS welcomed Kristen to the team in August of 2012, after acquiring her PhD, and successfully completing a postdoctoral appointment at Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich, Germany, a renowned research center with a well-earned reputation for the study of environmental health issues. While in Munich, her studies focused on TCE degradation mechanisms in biotic and abiotic systems, using carbon and chlorine compound specific isotope analysis (CSIA). When asked what she enjoys most about her role at REGENESIS, she quickly points to a sense of satisfaction when technology is successfully implemented. “Getting to see a technology that the R&D team has worked hard to develop, test, and validate from the lab to the field, and then see its successful impact on a contaminated site is quite gratifying.”

While working at REGENESIS, Kristen has developed renewed hope about the future of our planet. “On the news, we hear about oil spills, newly found contaminants in drinking water, and areas struggling with industrial waste issues. The clean-up portion is usually a subtle part of the story, but I feel it’s the most important component. Working at REGENESIS offers me a first-hand view, and I am proud to play a part in many of these clean-up efforts.” Her love for the environment is clearly evident, and is a big reason she enjoys working at REGENESIS. “It’s a unique opportunity and a highly satisfying. REGENESIS offers me the perfect opportunity to lead the development of even better ways to go about cleaning up the environment.”

Although Kristen is extremely involved and passionate about her day-to-day work, staying current in her field is a priority, so she attends scientific and industry conferences as well as keeping up with timely articles in the field of remediation. Her time away from work is rewarded with hobbies that include cycling, slow pitch softball, hiking, following Minnesota sports, board games, and constructing Halloween costumes, which she and her R&D team recently demonstrated in bold fashion!

REGENESIS is pleased to have Kristen Thoreson managing the Research and Development team, where her experience and leadership help provide positive solutions and outcomes for the company and its clients.