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Remembering Karen

By Kim Billings '81
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Throughout her career, Karen Von Damm was committed to her students. In 2004, for example, she took four undergraduates on a month-long, NSF-sponsored voyage to the East Pacific Rise to explore an undersea mountain range in a submersible called Alvin. A professor of chemical oceanography, she was a role model to young scientists, particularly young women.

After she died of cancer in 2008, her mother, Louise Von Damm, created three lasting testaments at UNH in her daughter's name: an endowed scholarship fund, a student research opportunities fund, and the Karen L. Von Damm Faculty Excellence Award, which will support the professional development of faculty in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Von Damm was one of the world's leading authorities on the deep sea hydrothermal vent systems known as smoking chimneys. In October 2008, the 4,464th Alvin dive carried some of her ashes in a small glass sphere to rest at a vent on the East Pacific Rise.

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