Aaron Thomas Professor, Director of Native American Research LaboratoryOffice: Chemistry, 201
Dr. Aaron Thomas is currently the Director of Indigenous Research and STEM Education (IRSE) at the University of Montana, in addition to his role as Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Prior to arriving at the University of Montana in January 2013, Aaron served the University of Idaho as Assistant and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Director of the Idaho Space Grant Consortium and Idaho NASA EPSCoR Programs.
A member of the Navajo Nation, Aaron earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University (1996) and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida (2001). Dr. Thomas' research topics include Microfluidics and novel separation processes for gases and biological materials. He is a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER and PbioECASE Award given to young faculty in science and engineering.
Dr. Thomas is committed to increasing the number of Native American and Alaska Native students with advanced degrees in STEM fields. Accordingly, he has constructed a comprehensive service plan that (in the earliest years) promotes exciting STEM education activities in Montana's reservation middle schools and (later) supports their undergraduate and graduate STEM studies at the University of Montana.
Ranalda is the IRSE Program Coordinator. She grew up in northeastern AZ on the Diné reservation. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a minor in Navajo Linguistics from the University of New Mexico. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she completed a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Montana. Her areas of emphasis for her doctoral degree is in Chemistry, Geosciences and Environmental Science/Studies.
Ranalda’s graduate research brought together Diné and western scientific perspectives to address water contamination in her home community of Tółikan, AZ and the surrounding communities. She has experience working within Indigenous communities, implementing and practicing Indigenous Research Methodologies. In her free time, she enjoys beading, sewing, practicing traditional Diné arts and baking.