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Wofford junior receives Washington Scholar Award


Joseph McAbee

Follow Joseph McAbee's blog while he is at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Woodruff native to study neuroscience at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College pre-medical student Joseph Hiram McAbee received the prestigious Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Scholar in Neuroscience Award in a ceremony in New York City on Monday, June 7. He is the only undergraduate in the country to receive the honor this year.

The rising junior from Woodruff, S.C., will spend the summer with world-renowned research teams in the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Scholars in Neuroscience have been named annually since 2004. The program provides $2,500 in monthly support for a graduate-level researcher and $2,000 in monthly support for an undergraduate. Recipients work during the summer under the direction of faculty and staff mentors to prepare a scientific abstract or paper to submit to a national neuroscience, cancer or neurosurgery organization.

Both renowned actors and philanthropists, the Washingtons have taken an active role in the program, meeting with the scholars and announcing the annual awards. They hope to persuade deserving students to consider careers in the sciences because they offer the potential to change the world.

“Almost everyone who has an interest in neuroscience and neurosurgery has heard of Dr. Keith L. Black, who chairs the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai,” McAbee says. “I read his autobiography, ‘Brain Surgeon,’ last summer. He wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 17, and he was on the cover of a Time magazine special edition on ‘Heroes of Medicine’ a few years ago.

“I knew when I applied for the Washington Family Scholars program that there would only be one undergraduate winner this year, but I decided to apply despite the odds, and now I am preparing for a very exciting summer,” McAbee says.

“This award is both a wonderful honor and a challenging opportunity. It could not happen to a finer or more qualified person,” says Dr. George Shiflet, who chairs the Wofford biology department.

McAbee is a pre-med biology major and a dean’s list student. He is active in several campus organizations, ranging from the Twin Towers student volunteer program to the Ultimate Frisbee team. He also has served as a teaching assistant in Wofford’s introductory biology course for first-year students, Biological Inquiry.

His parents are John and Kim McAbee of Woodruff, S.C., and he is a graduate of Woodruff High School.