APPLETON, Wis. - How do you picture a Nobel Prize winner? Incredibly intelligent?Of course. Thought provoking? Sure. Humorous? In the case of Dr.Thomas Steitz, absolutely.
When asked where his Nobel Prize is, he responded,
“Ahh. I’m not telling! It’s hiddenaway!”
But all joking aside, Steitz offered some serious, sound advicefor the Lawrence University Class of 2010.
“Do the most interesting thing you can. Follow yourpassion,” said Steitz.
It was that same advice that led Steitz to his major lifeaccomplishment, winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry last year. In1962, Steitz graduated from Lawrence University. It was on thiscampus his love for chemistry developed, in part thanks to hisformer Lawrence University teacher, Robert Rosenberg.
“I knew Tom was a very good student, but you never have anidea someone's going to win the Nobel Prize. That's rare,”said Rosenberg.
With the rare award, comes a lot of respect from colleagues andLawrence University students.
“It's actually somewhat mind boggling, honestly, to thinkthat someone who was in studying the same labs that I've beenstudying in went on to do such fantastic things. It's reallyinspiring,” said Catherine Albright, the recipient of onescholarship in Steitz’s name for science.
Steitz had even more inspiring advice for those trying to followin his footsteps.
“A number of students and others have asked me, well, howdo I win a Nobel Prize? That's the wrong goal. You don't seek thatas a goal. You seek to try and do something you're really, reallypassionate about,” said Steitz.
Steitz describes winning the Nobel Prize as an incredible honor.But there's another honor from Lawrence University that he said wasmuch more surprising.
“I sort of thought there was a possibility I might win theNobel Prize. I never thought there was a possibility I'd have abuilding named after me,” said Steitz.
On Friday, Lawrence University renamed the science hall afterSteitz in recognition of his achievements.
“I was more amazed when I got that phone call than whenthe Swedes called me!” said Steitz.
You can add humility to the list of Steitz's award-winningpersonality traits as well.
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