NE Campus Science student Maggie Park has a war criminal, a multiple-Nobel prize winner and a Scottish explorer in her family tree.
Park’s uncle Lt. Col. William Steele was in charge of Camp Cropper, the detention facility where Saddam Hussein was held before his execution. Steele allegedly used government funds to buy hair dye for a prisoner’s daughter, who he was allegedly fraternizing with, and Cuban cigars for Hussein. Steele faced a gaggle of charges and was found guilty of unauthorized document possession, behavior unbecoming of an officer and having an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter. He served two years in a military prison.
Park’s great uncle, Linus Pauling, is one of only two people to have won a Nobel Prize in more than one field (chemistry and peace). Pauling was heavily involved in the discovery of the structure of DNA and was one of the first molecular geneticists.
Mungo Park, another uncle, was an explorer in the 1700s. He is said to be the first explorer to come across the Niger River. He was killed by the King of Gotoijege for trying to pass through his lands without paying tribute.
The most direct affect Park’s lineage has on her is that, as a science major, she’s studied her great uncle’s life work.
“I have studied, I’m going to study, his [Pauling’s] contribution to science,” Park said. “He invented this test that I’m going to have to learn about in organic chemistry.”
Beyond knowing, Park says she hasn’t let her ancestry affect her life too much.
“It’s just something interesting to tell people,” she said.