A West Virginia University biology professor who has overcome physical impairments to become an advocate for students with similar challenges has joined the National Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities.
Ed Keller Jr. was inducted into the Columbus, Ohio-based hall earlier this month. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Helen Keller are among the previous 80 inductees.
I was quite surprised, humbled and elated to think that I would ever be grouped with such individuals,he said.I was glad that the selection committee recognized that even with disabilities, a person can still achieve.
Keller joined the biology faculty in WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 1968 and served as chairman of the Department of Biology for several years. He teaches biology and environmental science and researches relationships between human health and environmental factors.
He has suffered from various disabilities most of his life. He was stricken with polio at 17 and required rehabilitation before he was able to walk with the aid of leg braces and either a cane and crutches. He developed diabetes in his mid-40s, a retina disorder in his early 50s and arterial sclerosis that required a quintuple heart bypass in his 60s. In 1997, he suffered a stroke and has used a wheelchair since.
Despite his disabilities, Keller is a man of many accomplishments.
He has earned three degrees from Penn State University, including a doctorate in statistical genetics in 1961.
Before coming to WVU , he worked three years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, overseeing projects that measured radiation in space to determine how much exposure was acceptable for astronauts.
He remains a full-time faculty member at WVU , teaching 500-600 students a semester.
Keller has also spent most of his professional life helping to make science education more accessible for students with disabilities.
While department chair, he obtained National Science Foundation funds to support a series of summer programs in marine science for students with disabilities. He also obtained funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to produce an award-winning film on these student programs. He has contributed his time, energy and expertise to the University of Washingtons Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology program, or DO-IT.
He was also co-author of a 1990 NSF report on science and engineering programs for people with disabilities and was a member of focus groups on the disability aspects of national science educational standards developed by the National Academy of Sciences.
Last spring, the Eberly College presented Keller with its Outstanding Public Service Award in recognition of his efforts on behalf of students with disabilities.