GSSM staffer is Hartsville’s 2021 Rotarian of the Year

Joshua Witten, a staffer at the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, has been named Rotarian of the Year by the Hartsville Rotary Club. The Hartsville Rotary Club is a philanthropic organization supporting Hartsville area schools and Rotary International’s worldwide initiatives. “He’s a gift to Hartsville Rotary, overall,” said Hannah McCain, the outgoing Hartsville Rotary president. Witten continues to enhance a vast majority of research initiatives since joining GSSM in 2015. This includes the Summer Program for Research Interns (SPRI), a six-week research program required for all residential seniors. This summer, there are 20 programs spread across 20 different universities and businesses. Witten is also the staff sponsor of the GSSM Interact Club, a student service club sponsored by the Hartsville Rotary Club. The GSSM chapter has been active for several years and has done several volunteer projects around the area. Their most recent project was refurbishing the bins at the Darlington County Habitat for Humanity, while the students were still working from home. Here’s a Q&A with Witten, presented on GSSM’s website: Educational background 2010 — Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from Washington University in St. Louis 2001 — BS (Major in Biology with concentration in Genetics; Minors in Chemistry & History) from Duke University How long have you worked at GSSM? Since June 2015. How long have you worked in academia? I started working in academic research labs during my sophomore year at Duke (1998) until I graduated. After taking a year off to play rugby in the UK, I went to graduate school working in a genetics/genomics laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis until 2010. From 2010 to 2012, I studied the regulation of RNA alternative splicing at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. Please list any personal information you would like to share: I am the co-founder and managing editor of the science website The Finch & Pea and contribute to the science podcast “Science for the People.” I also have a strong interest in taking artistic photographs using smartphone cameras. Give us a Twitter-style short bio about yourself. Scientist. Teacher. Father. Rugby Player. Communicator. Awesome at high-fives. What would your students be surprised to learn about you? As a child, the magician David Copperfield once made me disappear in front of a crowded theater twice. I also spent a year off between undergraduate and graduate school playing rugby in Bath, UK. What is your perfect pizza? Pepperoni Pizza (cut into squares) from the Rotolo’s around the corner from home in Columbus, Ohio. What’s your favorite quote? “No such thing as too late. That’s why they invented death.” — Charlie Gordon, as played by Walter Matthau in the terrible movie “Out to Sea” (also starring Jack Lemmon).

Author: Rachel Howell

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