William R. (1956) & Betsy P. Leitch Professor in Residence Professor of Chemistry, Toxicology, and Biological Engineering
35th Annual MLK Leadership Award
John Essigmann '72, PhD '76 is the William R. (1956) & Betsy P. Leitch Professor in Residence Professor of Chemistry, Toxicology, and Biological Engineering. Prof. Essigmann has taught biochemistry, bioengineering and toxicology at MIT for nearly three decades.
He is also Associate Head, MIT Department of Chemistry, responsible for graduate and undergraduate education, and Housemaster of Simmons Hall.
Prof. Essigmann began working on toxicological problems affecting Thailand and the developing world as an MIT graduate student more than 30 years ago. "The developing world offers some of the most pressing and scientifically interesting problems in my field," said Essigmann, recipient of Thailand's 2004 Princess Chulabhorn Gold Medal Award for his "sustained support for the advancement of science in developing countries and his selfless dedication to teaching and research".
"Those who are anointed as our leaders are first our servants," said MIT Chancellor Phillip L. Clay when presenting the award to the six honorees for 2009. "Dr. King, in several of his sermons, underscored that point. Leadership is not purchased but it is earned through service."
On Life and Science
Blog post by Hector Hernández PhD '08
2003 MLK Award Recipient
2010-11 MLK Visiting Scholar
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Masdar Institute of Science
Mentee and friend of Prof. Essigmann
February 4, 2009
Professor John Essigmann was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award tonight for his work over his tenure at MIT as an advocate for the minority community making students, faculty, and all other members of MIT feel welcome at MIT. John is one of those people who you meet in life and are immediately comfortable with him. I first met John when I was visiting MIT in the spring of 2000. I had just been accepted to the Chemistry PhD program and was in Cambridge on the prospective student visiting weekend. I sat at the dinner table with Professors John Essigmann and Cathy Drennan and had a great time at dinner. John and Cathy made everyone feel comfortable and welcome to MIT.
The next time I met John was when I was a Teaching Assistant for 5.07, the Chemistry version of Biological Chemistry. I got to know John and eventually asked him to be the chair of my Thesis Committee. As time passed and I got to know John better, I realized what an amazing person he is. He and Ellen, his wife, at Simmons Hall, a really cool undergraduate dormitory at MIT. The things John does around MIT are just too numerous to list here.
John also works to educate students who suffer from economic necessity worldwide. He has worked as an educator in Thailand for over two decades, dedicating his time to teach students in Thailand on how to design and develop drug research programs that investigate and provide relief to diseases which affect third world countries.
I can’t think of a better person to receive this prestigious award than John. Kudos to you!