May 10, 2010
Compassionate Scientist, Community Leader Wins McMullan Honor - and $20,000
Exceptional scientific research and engaged scholarship, combined with a dedication to community building defined the undergraduate years of Emory University graduate Scot Seitz.
These attributes led to him winning the 2010 Lucius Lamar McMullan Award, one of Emory's highest student honors which also comes with $20,000 - no strings attached. Seitz was cited by several nominators, representing a coalition of administrators, staff and faculty, for the passionate service, ethical leadership and academic rigor that marked his career at Emory.
The Lucius Lamar McMullan Award, endowed by Emory alumnus William L. Matheson in honor of his uncle, is given to a graduating senior who exhibits "outstanding citizenship, exceptional leadership and potential for service to his or her community, the nation and the world." The donor's intention is to allow a student to do something he or she wouldn't otherwise be able to do.
Described by one nominator as "someone destined to be an extraordinary scientist and scholar... with a human and humane heart," the double major in biology and women's studies finished his degree last December with a near-perfect 3.99 GPA. He used his research background in public health and epidemiology to write an honor's thesis in women's studies examining the disproportionate rates of HIV infection in African American women.
"I am simultaneously honored and humbled," Seitz says about winning the award. "I will use the award as a stepping-stone to further create a more just world through science and social justice."
As a freshman, he was selected as an INSPIRE scholar and worked in the lab of renowned Emory chemist Lanny Liebeskind. He conducted research all four years in the Rollins School of Public Health under the guidance of professors Christine Moe, director of the Emory Center for Global Safe Water, and Juan Leon. His work included a research project in Bolivia to study ecological sanitation, and has presented that research nationally and internationally.
In his sophomore and junior years, he was co-president of Emory Pride, Emory's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student organization, and received the Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year Award for 2010 for his work to increase awareness about LGBT issues.
He served as a community dialogue facilitator for Emory's Transforming Community Project and other dialogue groups on campus that provided safe spaces for students to examine difficult and challenging topics centered on race, ethnicity, sexuality and other differences. As part of his dedication to building a better community, he took part in professional training with the National Coalition Building Institute.
He also worked as head moderator to plan programming for Wonderful Wednesdays, a biweekly community event on campus that celebrates Emory's culture and traditions.
Seitz will spend the next two years working for Teach For America in Atlanta before attending graduate school. He plans to obtain a master's in public health and a doctorate in epidemiology. Seitz says he will use some of the award money to pay for graduate school and plans to donate part of it to a local nonprofit in the community where he will be working next year.