Each year WSU and the Alumni Society recognize individuals for their outstanding commitment to the university and to improving our world. The Distinguished Young Alumni Award recognizes graduates who are 45 years old or younger and have distinguished themselves in their work or in their community.
Thostenson graduated from Winona State in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in composite materials engineering and has gone on to make pioneering contributions to the science and technology of composite materials. While attending WSU, Thostenson made the dean’s list consistently, earned a WSU non-resident scholarship for four years, a Society of Plastics Engineering scholarship, and was a finalist in the U.S. Olympic Committee Sport Science and Technology Design Contest. He also worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Composite Materials Engineering, and worked two summers as a laboratory assistant for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
After graduating from WSU, Thostenson received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Delaware, where he also worked as a research assistant, research fellow, associate scientist, research assistant professor, and eventually assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where he still works today.
Thostenson’s broad impact in the field of composite materials is reflected in his scientific literature, based on carbon nanotubes and other advanced fiber reinforcements. His scholarly research papers have been cited in scientific literature more than 4,300 times. In addition, Thostenson has earned a multitude of awards, such as the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award in 2013, the Young Investigator Proposal Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Elsevier Young Composites Research Award, which is given to a researcher early in his or her career who has made a significant impact on composite materials science and technology.
In addition to being extremely successful in his field, Thostenson has also done much to support WSU since his graduation. He has visited to recruit students and give development seminars and has fostered research collaboration between WSU and the University of Delaware. Several WSU students have had summer internships with his research group and two WSU students are now pursuing graduate degrees there.