UW News

January 21, 2010

UW forensic dentist receives Martin Luther King Distinguished Service Award

School Of Dentistry

Dr. Tom Morton of the School of Dentistry, who won recognition for his work on the forensic team investigating Puget Sound’s infamous Green River slayings, received the Health Science Center’s 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award on Jan. 14.

In annual ceremonies at the Health Science Center, Dr. Morton, currently acting chair of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Biology, was cited for activities including:

• Encouraging students at black colleges and universities to pursue dental education and careers.

• Endowing a fellowship for pediatric dentistry/oral biology leadership in children’s oral health research.

• Advocacy for the Health Sciences Center Minority Students Program.

• Dental science volunteer service with agencies including as the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, Veterans Administration, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Children’s hospital, American Cancer Society, Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, and area law enforcement agencies. Dr. Morton worked on the team that identified the victims of the Green River serial killer in the early 1990s, using dental evidence.

The King award is given for a commitment to addressing community needs, especially for people of color and low income, plus efforts to improve the human condition and empower all people. The ceremonies are held each year near the birthday of the late civil rights leader to honor his memory.

In accepting his award, Morton paraphrased the German poet Goethe, saying: “Treat people as if they are what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”

The ceremonies also honored several other Health Sciences staff, faculty and students with Community Volunteer Recognition awards. Recipients included Thien Le, UW Medical Center; Zene Tefera, School of Dentistry; Emiko Tajima, School of Social Work; Jeannette Marie Zimmer, School of Pharmacy; Amy Hagopian, School of Public Health; Student National Medical Association of UW, School of Medicine; and April Cline Morgan, School of Nursing.