Saint Ignatius High School

A Celebration of Academic Excellence

On Wednesday, October 21, we celebrated our commitment to academic excellence by recognizing our 29 National Merit Scholars at our National Merit Scholarship Dinner. Dr. Metin Eren ’01, archaeology professor at Kent State University and a recipient of the 2020 Ig Nobel Prize in Material Science, served as the event's keynote speaker.

On Wednesday, October 21, Saint Ignatius High School recognized the academic excellence of our 2020 National Merit Semifinalists, Commended Students and College Board National Recognition Program Scholar at our National Merit Scholarship Dinner.

Metin Eren, Ph.D., Class of 2001, served as the evening’s keynote speaker. Eren is an archaeology professor at Kent State University and a Research Associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Anthropology from Harvard University and Southern Methodist University, a degree in Experimental Archaeology from the University of Exeter in England, and a Certificate in Ceramic Art from Canterbury College in England. 

At 37 years old, Eren has published 130 peer-review scientific journal articles and has conducted research in Canada, China, Denmark, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Tanzania, Turkey, the Republic of Georgia, the U.K., and across the United States. His research has been featured in international media, including PBS NOVA, the History Channel, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, NPR, among many others.

Eren founded the Kent State University Experimental Archaeology Laboratory in 2016 when he returned back home to Northeast Ohio, and he was a recipient of the 2020 Ig Nobel Prize in Material Science. The Ig Nobel Prizes "honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology."

Science teacher Joe Popelka ’84 introduced Eren, reflecting on the lessons he learned during his experience as Eren’s teacher and soccer coach at Saint Ignatius. Although Eren’s academic and professional records are incredibly noteworthy, Popelka is perhaps most impressed by his kindness, positive attitude, and unabating sense of childlike awe at discovering more about the world around him. Eren’s fearlessness in the pursuit of knowledge is practically unmatched, which has allowed him to utilize his passions and talents to make a positive impact.

Eren’s keynote address discussed the importance of adaptation in the face of adversity, stress and tragedy. Persisting through hardships is one of the only constants in life, and he said that learning to pivot quickly can allow us to find light even in the darkest of situations. His message was incredibly relevant as students and families journey through this unprecedented year and served as a meaningful reminder that every situation is temporary.

Eren closed the evening’s address by reminding the student honorees that “life is resilient, and as Ignatius men, so are we.”