At 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 10, atop Double Peak Park with picturesque views sweeping across North County, members of the CSUSM campus will be joined by family and friends to dedicate a community telescope and topographical installation in memory of Microbiology Professor Dr. Thomas Wahlund, who lost his battle with cancer three years ago.

“Double Peak was one of Tom's favorite views and favorite places,” said his wife Colleen Moss. “He hiked or ran up the mountain on a regular basis. It is a very special place, and I believe a perfect and fitting memorial for Tom.”

Wahlund’s career in science began in a southern Illinois town, where he taught high school biology. He later earned his doctorate in microbiology from Southern Illinois University in 1993 and went on to conduct postdoctoral research at Ohio State University before joining Cal State San Marcos in fall 1997. Adored by his students, Wahlund taught a full range of courses, including lower division general education and upper division major and elective courses, as well as graduate seminars. He and fellow CSUSM biologist Dr. Betsy Read, collaborated successfully on several National Science Foundation-funded grants, involving undergraduate and graduate students in their research efforts.

Professor Wahlund’s original research focused on the genomics of marine algae. He routinely partnered with international scientists, and during his tenure was invited to present at international meetings and conferences. A dedicated research scientist, Wahlund was also an inspirational teacher, as well as a mentor for more than 100 former graduate and undergraduate students. He was noted for his ability to mentor and nurture inquiring minds, many of them first-generation college students, and preparing them for advanced study at schools like UCLA, UC-Irvine, and Virginia Tech.

“Dr. Wahlund was an inspirational professor who loved his profession as well as his students,” said one of his former pupils. “He is the type of person who would motivate you to do your best and make you want to work hard. He was my absolute favorite mentor and professor, and he will forever be missed but never forgotten.”

After his sudden passing in 2008, a scholarship fund was established at CSUSM in his memory. In addition, members of the campus, surrounding community, and colleagues from as far away as Ireland, joined together and contributed to a memorial fund, which covered all expenses in the purchase and installation of  the Thomas M. Wahlund Memorial Telescope at Double Peak, debuting at the park on Saturday, September 10. The ceremony is open to thepublic, and Moss invites the campus community to attend.

“At the dedication ceremony, I look forward to friends, colleagues, students and community members joining me in remembering the life and legacy of Tom,” she said.

The telescope will be free and accessible to the general public during regular park hours. It sits on a 12-foot diameter cement base that features etched depictions of the surrounding topography and landmarks. The installation also bears a memorial poem in honor of Wahlund. The new telescope will magnify viewpoints from as far away as the Coronado Islands off of Mexico, Catalina Island, Mt. Baldy, Mt. San Jacinto, the San Bernardino Mountain Range, the Volcan Mountains and the Palomar Mountains.

“Wounded Hearts” Shares Moss’ Journey through Grief
Two days before the memorial telescope dedication, Moss, who is also a CSUSM instructor, psychologist and artist, will unveil her art exhibit titled “Wounded Hearts,” featuring a series of annotated paintings created as a way to cope with her grief and loss of her husband, Thomas Wahlund. The paintings illustrate her transformational journey.  And although they depict intense pain and despair, they ultimately share a message about hope, transformation and the miraculous resiliency of the human spirit. The exhibit will open on Thursday, September 8, with a free community reception and artist lecture at 7 p.m. in the Kellogg Library.  For more info and to RSVP, contact Melanie Chu at 760-750-4378.

“Dr. Wahlund was an inspirational professor who loved his profession as well as his students,” said one of his former pupils. “He is the type of person who would motivate you to do your best and make you want to work hard. He was my absolute favorite mentor and professor, and he will forever be missed but never forgotten.”