Published : Tuesday, October 6, 2015 | 7:46 PM
On Friday, Sept. 25, Nobel Laureate Dr. Bruce Beutler ’75 returned to Poly to visit with students and be honored as the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Dr. Beutler received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2011 for his discovery of an important family of receptors that allows mammals to sense infections when they occur, triggering a powerful inflammatory response.
Dr. Beutler began his visiting day at the Middle School morning meeting, where he reflected on his Poly experience and emphasized the advantage that a Poly education provides. He echoed this sentiment at an Upper School assembly, telling students they will truly appreciate the value of Poly when they experience college. In both settings, Dr. Beutler’s greatest advice to listeners was “decide what you love to do and do it as well as you can.”
After being welcomed to the North and South Campuses, Dr. Beutler was interviewed by a student journalist for an upcoming feature in The Paw Print. He also enjoyed numerous classroom visits, ranging from Upper School English and enameling to seventh-grade science, which provided an opportunity for him to see first-hand what students at Poly are engaged in today. A group of science-minded Middle and Upper School students were invited to a discussion with Dr. Beutler over lunch, during which they asked questions about his discoveries and discussed possible future research methods.
Outside of student visits, Dr. Beutler also spent time in conversation with Head of School John Bracker, and he had a special visit to the Poly archives. Archives Manager Barbara Bishop helped Dr. Beutler reminisce over class photos and yearbooks, where he pointed out numerous classmates who had also become scientists. At the end of the day, Dr. Beutler departed campus with book of fifth grade drawings depicting him, his work, and his Nobel Prize.
Dr. Beutler’s visit culminated with a dinner held in his honor at Head of School John Bracker’s home, where classmates and Alumni Board members gathered to celebrate. After guests enjoyed a lively cocktail reception and dinner, AP Biology teacher Susie Kim lauded Dr. Beutler’s professional accomplishments, and classmate Paul Spiegel ’75 shared fond memories of Dr. Beutler as a high school student. After listing the many qualities considered in selecting award recipients — integrity, curiosity, compassion — Alumni Association President Warren Techentin ’86 noted that this year’s decision was unanimous. He then presented Dr. Beutler with the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award. In accepting the award, Dr. Beutler shared his appreciation for being recognized by the alumni community and for his many friends and family members who were in attendance. He remarked that the entire day was the most honored he had felt in his life — second only to Stockholm in 2011.
Polytechnic School, 1030 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 396-6300 or visit www.polytechnic.org.