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Chemist Thomas Theis Named Goodnight Distinguished Scholar in Molecular Characterization

Thomas Theis

The College of Sciences has named chemist Thomas Theis as the Goodnight Distinguished Scholar in Molecular Characterization. The professorship was established in 2019 by a gift from the Goodnight Educational Foundation.

Theis joined the NC State faculty in 2018. He is a pioneer of hyperpolarization chemistry, which is aimed at breaking the detection limits of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Thanks to his advances, these magnetic resonance technologies can now be used for molecular imaging, chemical analysis and precision measurements.

Theis’ leadership in his field includes serving as chair of the Hyperpolarization Methods and Equipment Study Group in the 8,000-member International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. He has been recognized with the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the Junior Faculty Grant by the Mallinckrodt Foundation, and the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by the Humboldt Foundation. In 2021, he received the Goodnight Early Innovator Award from NC State.

Theis has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers and given more than 80 invited lectures around the world. He is also the founder of Vizma Life Sciences, which aims to transform preclinical and clinical imaging by opening up new ways to view molecular processes in vivo.

Before joining NC State, Theis completed postdoctoral work at Duke University. He earned his doctorate in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012.

The Goodnight Distinguished Scholarship in Molecular Characterization was established in 2019 by the Goodnight Educational Foundation, which was co-founded by NC State alumni Dr. James and Mrs. Ann Goodnight. Dr. Goodnight – the CEO and founder of SAS – earned his B.S. in applied mathematics in 1965, his M.S. and doctorate in statistics in 1968 and 1972, respectively, and the university conferred an honorary degree to him in 2002. Mrs. Goodnight earned her B.A. in political science in 1968 and works as the senior director of community relations at SAS. The Goodnights have received numerous university honors, including the Watauga Medal (Dr. Goodnight, 2002) and the Menscer Cup (2007). Mrs. Goodnight’s leadership roles include serving on the Board of Trustees and as a founding member of Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy at NC State. 

The Goodnights support more than 250 North Carolina students each year through the Goodnight Scholarships program, which they established in 2008 and expanded in 2017 to include transfer students from the state’s community colleges. The Goodnights also have generously strengthened centers, programs and additional scholarship opportunities across NC State. Their commitment to faculty excellence has resulted in the creation of named faculty positions, a deanship, a program to invest in early-career faculty and support for additional endowed professorship funds. In 2022, the Goodnights increased their support to include graduate students, creating the Goodnight Doctoral Fellows for Ph.D. candidates in STEM and education.