Katharine C. Hunt

Katharine C.   Hunt
  • University Distinguished Professor
  • Chemistry


Katharine C. Hunt, professor of chemistry, conducts quantum mechanical research on intermolecular interactions and the effects of electromagnetic fields.  She proved Feynman’s “conjecture” about the origin of dispersion forces between atoms in S states and also proved its generalization to molecules.  Her recent research focuses on adiabatic and nonadiabatic phenomena observed in molecules that are perturbed by time-dependent fields, Hamiltonians with gauge-invariant expectation values and differences from Fermi’s Golden Rule for transitions induced by laser pulses.  Her group’s work on interaction-induced dipoles has been used in astrophysical analyses of radiative profiles of white dwarf stars. Her other research interests include quantum thermodynamics and nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.

Hunt received a B.S. in chemistry from Michigan State University and her Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from the University of Cambridge, England, where she was a Marshall Scholar and Danforth Fellow. She held a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at MIT and joined the MSU faculty in 1979.  From 1998 – 2002, when she served as chairperson in the Department of Chemistry, chairperson, the department’s federal research funding doubled and laboratory safety improved significantly.  Hunt has taught chemistry courses from freshman through graduate levels.

Hunt has served on the Committee of Visitors to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and on numerous NSF panels.  She chaired the Midwest Chemistry Chairs’ Group for two years.  The British Ambassador appointed Hunt to chair the Marshall Scholarship Selection Committee for the Chicago Consular Region from 2009 – 2016. Her honors include a Research Excellence Award from the International Conference of Computational Methods in Science and Engineering.