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J. Kerry Thomas

by Susan J. Ainsworth
April 20, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 16

J. Kerry Thomas, 80, professor emeritus in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, died on Jan. 18 in Valparaiso, Ind., from a carcinoid tumor.

Born in Llanelli, Wales, Thomas studied chemistry at the University of Manchester in England, earning a B.Sc. in 1954 and a Ph.D. in 1957, under eminent kineticist J. H. Baxendale.

Thomas then worked at Argonne National Laboratory until 1970, when he moved to the Radiation Research Laboratory at Notre Dame. Subsequently, he joined the university’s chemistry department and was named its Julius A. Nieuwland Chaired Professor.

Thomas’s research involved the application of short-pulsed laser photochemistry and photophysics to study reactions in colloidal or organized systems and polymers. He continued to conduct research after his retirement at the end of 2001, publishing the last of his 300 articles in 2013.

Thomas received many honors, including the ACS Award in Colloid & Surface Chemistry in 1994. He was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and was an emeritus member of ACS, which he joined in 1966.

He was a member of Grace United Methodist Church in South Bend, Ind., and sang in its choir.

His wife, June, whom he married in 1959, died in 2013. He is survived by his daughter, Delia Thomas; sons, Roland and Roger; and eight grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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