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May  05, 2010

Outstanding senior wins Seaborg Award

Senior Max Petersen of Mundelein, Ill., has been named the 2010 recipient of the Glenn T. Seaborg Science Award. His outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements made him a standout for this award, which includes a weeklong trip to Stockholm, Sweden, in December, culminating with the Nobel Prize ceremonies. Petersen is one of eight Augustana students to have won the Seaborg award; Mohammed Zak Rajput '09 received the honor last year.

Petersen is a straight-A student with a triple major in pre-medicine, biochemistry and religion. He was named an Academic All-American for his championship performance in track in 2009 and also is a concert-level pianist. He is currently the captain of the track team, a senator in student government and the leader of a campus jazz ensemble.

"I've been extremely fortunate to have had wonderful mentors at Augustana," Petersen said. "Every door I wanted to walk through was propped open by helpful and thoughtful students, faculty and administrators. My time at Augie has been the best four years of my life and the Seaborg Award is a terrific culmination of that."

Since 2006, Petersen has been researching with chemistry faculty members Dr. Richard Narske and Dr. Pam Trotter. In the summer of 2008, he spent a month in a pediatric clinic in Guatemala City, and in 2009 he participated in the Texas Medical Center summer research program. Next year, Petersen will pursue his medical degree through the M.D. and Ph.D. program at Yale University.

Dr. Narske taught Petersen in his first-year organic chemistry course and immediately identified him as a "special individual." Petersen began researching with Narske his first year, and had already presented at a national technology meeting by the time he was a sophomore. "I have had only one or maybe two students that I would rank with Max," Narske said. "He is the kind of exceptional student that you have the opportunity to teach and interact with once or twice in a teaching career."

Petersen will join 25 students from around the world for the Stockholm International Youth Seminar. He will visit universities and laboratories, listen to lectures by Nobel laureates and participate in Swedish cultural events with other young scientists. His accommodations are a three-masted sailing ship anchored in a Stockholm harbor and converted into a youth hostel.

He has never been to Sweden and is excited to see the country and attend the Nobel ceremonies. "To be invited to participate in the Nobel festivities is incredibly exciting and humbling," he said. "My good friend Zak Rajput won the Seaborg Award last year and had a fantastic time, so I am looking forward to the trip immensely."

The Glenn T. Seaborg Science Award is given once a year to an American math or science student graduating from a Swedish Lutheran College. The award is named in honor of the late Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, the Swedish-American nuclear chemist who won the Nobel Prize in 1951 for his discovery of numerous atomic elements including element #106, Seaborgium. "Dr Seaborg was an award-winning research scientist," Narske said. "Max is on his way to become the same."

In addition to the Seaborg award, Petersen is the recipient of the Roy J. Carver LOGOS Scholarship for high-achieving graduates of Augustana's natural science honors program, and the Anderson Swedo Science Education Scholarship for top junior or senior biology or chemistry students pursuing careers in scientific research or medicine.

For details about the Seaborg award, visit www.swedishcouncil.org.

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu