Sarah Lucht, a 2013 Gustavus graduate, was the recent recipient of the Glenn T. Seaborg Award, presented by the Swedish Council of America.
According to the Swedish Council of America’s website, the award was established in 1979 to honor an accomplished chemist and Nobel Laureate. Nominees must major in either math or science and represent a commitment to the Scandinavian roots. Six colleges in the United States, who havemaintained ties to Scandinavia through exchange, language study, and culture each nominate one candidate. A single recipient is ultimately selected from that group.
The scholarship provides a stipend for recipients to travel to Sweden to participate in the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS), where Lucht will present research to young Swedish students. The award will also provide admittance to the Nobel Prize Award ceremony and banquet, and an opportunity to interact with scientists from around the globe.
“I feel very honored to be representing Gustavus this December when I attend SIYSS. It is an opportunity of a lifetime. I am looking forward to presenting the work I’ve done to future scientists and giving back that way. I can’t believe I will be present for the Nobel festivities-let me tell you, a ball gown is a difficult thing to pack in a suitcase,” Lucht said.
Professor Alisa Rosenthal serves as the fellowships coordinator in the Gustavus Fellowships Office, and assists students in applications for competitive scholarships and programs, such as the Seaborg Award.
“I think one of the really nice things about the Seaborg award and all this sort of renewed commitment to making sure that our students are aware of and can compete for it, is it’s just another one of those links that emphasize our connection to Sweden,” Rosenthal said. “This is just another way in which we say this is just part of our heritage, and it’s a living part of our heritage.”
Dawn Comstock ‘13 also received the award in 2012 and encouraged Lucht to look into the opportunity.
“It’s incredibly uncommon to have two winners from a school in a row, but they were just that good,” Rosenthal said.
“For the award, they are really looking for a student who can take advantage of the Nobel Conference, and will really be able to take advantage of the ceremonies and who will be able to appreciate and understand that. They want a student who both brings that appreciation and understanding of the knowledge of Sweden, as well as that sort of excellence, and Sarah is very much that,” Rosenthal said.
With degrees in chemistry, and biochemistry and molecular biology, and strong family ties to Scandinavia, Lucht exemplified the qualifications for the scholarship.
Lucht also spent January 2013 at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska University in Stockholm conducting research on genetic links to schizophrenia.
Chemistry Professor Amanda Nienow has known Lucht during her entire time at Gustavus.
“She was a fantastic student and is very ambitious. She is highly interested in travel and language, and has proven herself to be a great representative of Gustavus and the U.S. while studying abroad,” Nienow said.
Biology and Chemistry Professor Jeff Dahlseid also worked with Lucht during her time at Gustavus.
“What is remarkable about Sarah was that she was able to do exemplary work across that whole range of the laboratory work. She developed an absolutely outstanding research proposal, and she also was fully engaged and a significant contributor to the discussions we had around the vocational reflection and the consideration of those deeper questions,” Dahlseid said.
Currently, Lucht is abroad conducting research on breast cancer with Dr. Jorunn Eyfjörð at the University of Iceland through a Fulbright Student Research Grant.
“My current work involves profiling microRNA expression in cancer cells. I’m hoping to add a project looking at connections between stress and breast cancer. I am really enjoying my time here so far. I spend most of my time in lab, trying out new cafés, taking Icelandic language classes, and meeting many new people,” Lucht said.
Upon her return to the U.S. at the end of the year, Lucht will attend Harvard School of Public Health to earn a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology.
“I have no doubt that she will be at the top of her class, and that she will find the perfect niche for her expertise and interest. I look forward to reading about her achievements for years to come,” Nienow said.