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McDaniel senior earns state recognition as top honors student

March 05, 2010

McDaniel College senior Eric Lemmon has earned the 2010 John and Edythe Portz Award for Outstanding Maryland Honors Student at a Four-Year College.

The Maryland Collegiate Honors Council gives the Portz Award annually to acknowledge the achievements of honors students who excel academically and through community involvement.

The Portz Award is given based on a student’s grade-point average, faculty recommendations, student involvement, and completion of a student project – research or creative work – done in an Honors program.

Lemmon, a graduate of Owings Mills High School in Baltimore County, Md., was excited to be nominated by his professors here at McDaniel and thrilled to win the state award – especially, he said, after hearing all of the accomplishments of the other nominees. He is the College’s first quadruple major, pursuing studies in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry and plans to pursue an M.D. - Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry.

“Biophysical chemistry is interdisciplinary and includes all four subjects,” Lemmon says to explain his ambitious program of studies. “Eventually I would like to be a professor at a large research university where I can do mostly research with some teaching and maybe even practice (medicine) a little.”

Biology Professor Louise Paquin and other faculty members who nominated Lemmon for the Portz Award stressed his academic achievements, his leadership skills and eagerness to tutor other students so they, too, might excel in Chemistry and Biology.

“Eric is an interesting and personable, though quiet, young man with varied interests aside from his primary ones,” Paquin says. “Eric is an excellent student. He has, in my experience, learned how to learn as well as the top 1 percent of students I have taught in 30 years. He sees himself as a future academic researcher; I can readily see him as a medical school professor.”

Lemmon’s interests and academic excellence encompass more than the sciences.

“Eric Lemmon is a model student in many ways,” says Susan Scott Clare, associate professor of Art History, who taught Lemmon in her Honors Japanese Art class last semester. “He never missed a class, always participated with lively questions and answers in our discussions, and established a quiet but very influential standard of performance.”

For the Portz Award, Lemmon submitted work from a research project, conducted during a summer internship at the University of Los Angeles at California, that explored the use of computational chemistry to design a synthetic enzyme.

“His work in Biochemistry is first rate, and his commitment to research is obvious,” says Peter Bradley, assistant professor of Philosophy and interim director of the Honors Program.

At McDaniel, Lemmon also has flourished beyond the classroom. He is president, and past vice president, of Beta Beta Beta, the Biology Honor Society; president of Gamma Sigma Epsilon, the Chemistry Honor Society; vice president of the Society of Physics Students; co-chair of the CAPBoard film committee; and the sole student member, by faculty nomination, on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Last fall, Lemmon served as the educational chair and second vice president of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity.

In addition to the research conducted at UCLA, Lemmon has participated in several other research projects that have resulted in presentations. He presented at the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, where he was awarded first place in the Chemical Sciences. He also presented his work last March at a bioinformatics conference at the University of California, San Diego.