Thomas Steitz, one of three recipients of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced last Friday, is a 1962 graduate of Lawrence University. That’s not his only ACM connection. As a senior at Lawrence, Steitz had the opportunity – through an ACM off-campus study program – to work alongside scientists at one of the nation’s leading research facilities, the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.
“This is a great honor for Dr. Steitz and for Lawrence University, a founding member of the ACM,” said Christopher Welna, President of ACM. “Dr. Steitz’ career underscores the fact that liberal arts colleges send undergraduate students to graduate programs in the sciences at higher rates than do the research universities. His career also highlights the importance that off-campus study can have in helping to propel young people’s lives into creative and consequential careers.”
The Argonne Semester Program, ACM’s first off-campus study program, was started in fall 1961, just two years after the consortium was founded. The program placed students as research assistants at the Laboratory for a semester, working as part of a research team with a staff scientist as a supervisor and mentor. The students also took two seminars, one in their major field and an interdisciplinary seminar in which Argonne scientists discussed their research projects.
Another component of the program served ACM’s mission to provide opportunities for faculty, as three professors from ACM colleges received year-long appointments at Argonne to conduct research and lead the seminars for the students.
The Argonne Semester Program continued through 1977 and was followed by the Oak Ridge Science Semester.
More information about Dr. Steitz, his research, and his career, is available on the Lawrence University website.