Schnell receives SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award

Author: Tammi Freehling

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Santiago Schnell, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science, will receive the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) at its National Diversity in STEM Conference in Portland, Oregon, on October 28, 2023.

The SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award, initiated in 1997, honors the highest levels of excellence in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics research field.

Schnell is internationally renowned for his pioneering research, which has significantly advanced our quantitative understanding of enzyme-catalyzed reactions. His most notable achievement is the formulation of the Schnell-Mendoza equation, a streamlined method for determining the physical constants of enzymes in both basic science and clinical laboratories. Furthermore, he has made significant contributions to the foundational enzymological quantitative model of the Polymerase Chain Reaction, an indispensable technique in the fields of life sciences, medical diagnostics, and forensic science.

Schnell earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Venezuela before completing his doctoral studies in mathematical biology at the University of Oxford in 2002. Subsequently, he secured two prestigious research fellowships at the same institution before taking an assistant professorship at Indiana University in 2004. Santiago was appointed associate professor in the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology of the University of Michigan Medical School in 2018. He was promoted to full professor in 2015, followed by his appointment as department chair of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, a role he held from 2017 to 2021. Notably, in 2021, Santiago was appointed the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame.

Throughout his career, Schnell has garnered numerous accolades for his research and teaching endeavors. These include the Arthur Winfree Prize and the Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine Award bestowed by the US National Academy of Medicine. His distinguished status is underscored by his membership as a fellow of the Society for Mathematical Biology, the Royal Society of Biology, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since the SACNAS Distinguished Awards program has honored over 130 scientists, mentors, educators, and program directors for their commitment to and personification of the spirit of the SACNAS mission: to foster the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientist—from college students to professionals—in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM.