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Physics, entomology professors earn Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award

Monday, Oct. 20, 2014


Uwe Thumm, professor of physics, and Kun Yan Zhu, professor of entomology, are Kansas State University's newest Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award recipients.

The award honors Thumm and Zhu for their outstanding scholarly achievements and contributions to graduate education at Kansas State University. Each receives a $2,500 honorarium. The awards are supported by the William T. Kemper Foundation and the Commerce Bancshares Foundation, and are coordinated through the Kansas State University Foundation and the university president's office.

"Continuing a 20-year tradition, Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation are collaborating with Kansas State University to honor outstanding faculty with the Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Awards," said Tom Giller, community bank president of Commerce Bank, Manhattan. "We are proud to continue promoting excellent instruction at K-State and honor exceptional faculty members who excel in research as well as teaching and mentoring Kansas State University students."

Thumm and Zhu will be recognized at the Graduate School commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, in Bramlage Coliseum. They each also will present a lecture on their research to the campus community during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Thumm, a researcher in the James R. Macdonald Laboratory, currently focuses on attosecond physics, which is the study of laser systems capable of producing ultrashort flashes of light allowing the stroboscopic mapping of electrons in motion. Attosecond time-resolved investigations target the physical underpinning of chemistry, biochemistry and the biochemical basis of life. Thumm has made contributions in different areas of theoretical atomic physics, including the theoretical and numerical modeling of the electronic structure of atoms, the light-induced fragmentation of molecules, and interactions of ions and electrons with atoms, clusters and solid surfaces. He has contributed 97 published works in refereed journals and books, 225 reports and abstracts, and 158 presentations at universities and conferences. He was elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2011.

Thumm studied physics and mathematics in Germany and France, earning his master's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Freiburg in Germany. He spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado, before becoming a faculty member in the K-State physics department in 1992. He has spent sabbaticals at the University of Freiburg, the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Center for Free-Electron-Laser Research in Hamburg, Germany.

Zhu specializes in insect molecular toxicology. He researches insect resistance to chemical insecticides and Bacillus thuringiensis toxins; insect acetylcholinesterase; management of stored product pests; chitin biosynthesis, metabolism and inhibition; and RNA interference. He has authored or co-authored 136 peer-reviewed papers and reviews, 12 book chapters and 329 presentations. He has served as an editor or editorial board member for 11 scientific journals. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012 and a fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 2014.

Zhu received his bachelor's degree in plant protection with specialization in entomology from Zhejiang Agricultural University. He earned his master's degree and doctoral degree in biology from Utah State University. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate and research faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He joined K-State's entomology department in 1995.


Uwe Thumm

Kun Yan Zhu


Uwe is OOH-ve -- with the "e" as in Emily, and Thumm sounds like tomb; and Kun Yan Zhu is Koon Yawn Zoo


Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award


Download a high-resolution photo.

Uwe Thumm

Uwe Thumm, professor of physics

Download a high-resolution photo.

Kun Yan Zhu

Kun Yan Zhu, professor of entomology

Written by

Stephanie Jacques