Amherst Magazine

Kirsten Hardiman '91

Our classmate, Kirsten Elizabeth Hardiman, was lost in a car accident on June 26, 2002. She graduated Cum Laude from Amherst and received her Ph. D. in Biology from the University of Michigan in 1999. She worked in London for the past three years for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. She was married one year and three days prior to the accident to Carl Redon.

Kirsten is survived by her husband; her father and step-mother, Keith and Victoria Hardiman; her mother and step-father, Zagonyi and David Tungate; and her six brothers and sisters. She was buried in Ames Cemetery, Ames, Oklahoma.

Memories from Sherrill Stroschein:

Kirsten Hardiman was one of very few people at Amherst with a background similar to mine. I always admired the fact that her rural roots did not seem to deter her ability to integrate at college or afterwards ... she was a kind of role model for me. But Kirsten was never really deterred much by anything. She loved to travel, and I got to see her in New York occasionally while she was finishing her biology Ph.D. in Michigan. The last time I saw her a few years ago, she brought Carl, a very nice French grad student she had met at a party who clearly adored her. I wasn’t very surprised when they got engaged soon afterwards and were married in June of 2001. She had always loved Europe, and even though she and Carl had to travel between London (the site of her post-doc) and Paris to see each other, she probably truly enjoyed having a presence in both cities.

It is ironic that after all that Kirsten accomplished and experienced, it was in fact near home in Oklahoma where she lost her life – a kind of closing of the circle. A friend reminded me that in spite of her tragic death, she was doing what she wanted to do. She would joke sometimes about dealing with Drosophila flies daily, but she fundamentally enjoyed her work in cancer research, and through it she has left something for the rest of us. This May she was the lead author of an article in Genetics (Vol. 161, pp. 231-47), another step towards understanding the disease. The article abstract is a tough slog for the non-biologist, but I am glad to see a piece of her professional life.

In the last few days I keep remembering little things about Kirsten. She had truly beautiful eyes. She had a very particular laugh that we got to hear often. She put an incredible amount of salt on her food. She loved to sing. She was independent and grounded. She would sometimes appear distracted in a conversation, but that was because the wheels were turning with an idea that would reveal something new to me. She was not someone you would look at and say “that woman is a biologist.” Unlike many of us academics, she was a very broad person, and when asked to summarize her research for the non-scientist, she could explain it in a way that made sense.

I will certainly miss Kirsten. She had a very full life while she was with us, and that is something to emulate.

 

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