The Volcano Lover

Paul M. Soper

Katherine J. Thompson ’05 knows how to knit. Rather well, actually. Thompson took up the arcane occupation at age ten, when her family moved from California to Germany. “All the students [there] had to learn to knit and crochet…I was really bad so I sort of gave it up,” she explains. Her family returned to California one year later, where she refined her skills and “made a bunch of things that aren’t really useful in California because you don’t need scarves or anything like that.”

This summer, Thompson took her summer vacation—she was editing Let’s Go: Germany—to Belgium, to study a regional style of lace-making with a group of nuns. Inspired by the visit, she bought a loom. Her friends have had no choice but to participate in Thompson’s crafts. “My blockmates are very, very nice about me teaching them all the things that I do,” Thompson says.

But delicate handicrafts are not her only specialty.An Earth and Planetary Sciences concentrator, Thompson is currently working on a thesis about the recent Mt. St. Helens eruption. Her thesis concerns “the method with which the seismologists and other scientists predict the eruption and…the way that information flows from them through the press and to the people.”

Thompson has first-hand experience in the volcanic field. She regales friends and acquaintances with the adventures she had while researching in Hawaii, especially the time she braved a renegade lava flow to rescue her team’s lava samples and research tools. She jokes that it is the only time that a movie has proved realistic—referencing Pierce Brosnan’s character’s girlfriend’s similar sacrifice in the notoriously awful Dante’s Peak.

When she’s not battling the elements, Thompson is dealing with similarly unpredictable artists. Extremely active in the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC), Thompson has participated in over 20 productions. Although she has experience both on- and off-stage, she mostly enjoys producing, where she is faced with the daunting task of “making sure everything happens.”

Thompson is also a writer, copy editor and designer for the Harvard Book Review, as well as the current Maps Managing Editor for Let’s Go.

Amazingly enough, Thompson still has time to simply hang out with friends—and not just to teach them how to knit. Her friend Aoife E. Spillane-Hinks ’06 says that Thompson “has this lovely subtlety to her.” Between the knitting, theater, book reviewing, mapmaking, and volcanic studies, Thompson is busy, to say the least. “I’m doing so many things that I want to do,” Thompson says, “[but] there’s always something I wish I were doing. Maybe I’ll get to it.”