Published Jan. 19, 2014
By Geoff Folsom, TCH
Wayne Martin, a retired Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
scientist, is this year’s winner of the Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit
Award winner. The award will be presented during a ceremony planned for
noon today at the Gjerde Center on the Columbia Basin College campus in
Pasco. BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald
College has tried for several years to give Wayne Martin its annual
Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award. He’s always been too busy.
Martin retired from his job as an environmental research scientist at
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and took emeritus status in
December, slowing down his schedule enough to be at CBC today to receive
the 25th annual award.
“He’s a scientist, an educator, just a
champion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” CBC
President Richard Cummins said. “He’s just an amazing individual and the
kind of person the college is thrilled to recognize.”
Cummins considers Martin, who was on CBC’s board when he was hired, a mentor.
But Martin, 59, of Kennewick, said he was surprised to receive the award honoring the slain civil rights leader.
person who they honor, Martin Luther King, now I’ve got an honor that’s
related to that guy?” he said. “It’s very humbling. I’m quite
appreciative of the honor.”
The award will be presented at a
ceremony at the Gjerde Center on CBC’s Pasco campus, 2600 N. 20th Ave.
The event begins at noon with an outdoor bell-ringing ceremony at the
Martin Luther King Jr. statue on campus.
Martin came to the
Tri-Cities in 1978 with degrees from Washington State University and the
University of Washington. He served in several capacities at PNNL,
including as a program manager and the director of the project
He’s received a number of honors for his work,
including the 2003 PNNL Fitzner-Eberhardt award for outstanding
contributions to science and education. And in 2004 he was named among
the “50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science,” by Science Spectrum
magazine and Career Communications Group.
But Martin is just as
proud of his contributions to the Tri-City community. He helped
establish CBC’s Office of Diversity, which increased the number of
Hispanic students at the school and allowed it to be classified as a
Hispanic Serving Institution. That meant it could qualify for millions
of dollars in federal grants.
Martin credits former PNNL lab director Bill Wiley with teaching him the value of giving back.
got me involved in a lot of national programs to engage with young
black Americans, and show them the value of education,” Martin said.
focused on showing underprivileged youth the value of science,
technology, engineering and mathematics education, he said.
went from CBC’s board, where he served from 2000-10 to the State
Community and Technical Colleges board, where he has been a member since
“When you look at the folks who really need to get engaged
through education — those folks who are not as well off — the community
colleges are one of the very first places that provide access to
education,” Martin said. “That’s why I like to support community
Martin also has served on the board of Kadlec Health System.
obviously has become a big issue,” he said. “It’s a great avenue for
good jobs. For people with a good STEM background, that’s a good place
Martin, who grew up moving around the country as an “Army brat,” wants to inspire others to give back.
“There are a lot of places in our community that need volunteers,” he said. “They need people to step up and help.”
He was honored in 2010 with the Community Stewardship Award from Battelle, the operator of PNNL.
has long been a tremendous role model for area youth, said current PNNL
Director Michael Kluse. The Spirit Award is “perfectly suited” to him.
methodically worked his way up through the laboratory system, earning
his doctorate, taking on more responsibility and eventually serving in
one of the lab’s highest posts,” Kluse said. “I’ve been fortunate enough
to work with Wayne outside of the laboratory as he invested endless
hours while giving back.”
Published with permission of the Tri-City Herald. Additional news stories can be accessed online at the Tri-City Herald.
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