Salem State student honored as one of '29 Who Shine' in State House ceremonies

Freeland, Wheeler and Desmond

In ceremonies at the Massachusetts State House yesterday, Haverhill resident Mark Wheeler was honored as one of 29 outstanding 2011 graduates of Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and the University of Massachusetts.

A Marine veteran, Wheeler was nominated for the honor by his biology professor at Salem State University, David Tapley. Wheeler’s research at the university has centered on lipid biochemistry and biochemical adaptations of striped bass. Results indicate that at physiological temperatures mitochondria from warm-bodied animals may produce higher levels of reactive oxygen species than mitochondria from animals at cold temperatures. On the other hand, hearts from cold-acclimated fish may be more vulnerable to oxidative injury because of the higher levels of non-heme iron. The two presented results of their findings at the April annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Salt Lake City. Mark Wheeler has been accepted into the PhD program at Purdue University, where he will continue his studies.

Commenting on this year’s "29 Who Shine", Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville noted that, “Each of these students is a success story in her or his own right; as a group they remind us of the power of public higher education to change lives.”

Noting that Massachusetts public college and university graduates will form the bulk of the state’s future work force, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Richard Freeland pointed out that Wheeler and his fellow honorees have already contributed to the state’s civic well-being by serving their communities and preparing to work in high-need areas of the Massachusetts economy that include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “Massachusetts,” added Freeland, “is better off because of their efforts.” 

Commenting on Wheeler’s selection, Salem State University president Patricia Maguire Meservey noted that his achievements—and those of others like him—only further emphasize the value of public higher education in the Commonwealth. “The university,” she said, “is enormously proud of Mark for his many accomplishments and we know that he is well prepared to begin his doctoral studies at Purdue. The dividends Massachusetts reaps from the success of high-achieving students like Mark Wheeler is certainly testimony to the need for continued investment in public education in the Commonwealth.”

Photo: (left to right) Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Richard M. Freeland, Mark Wheeler ’11, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Charles F. Desmond.