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2009 Distinguished Alumna: Cathy Sigal

Catherine T. Sigal (BS ’76 Chemistry) was selected as the College’s 2009 Distinguished Alumnus. Established in 1990, the PAMS Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes alumni whose exceptional achievements in business, education, research or public service have brought honor and distinction to the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and NC State.

Sigal came to North Carolina as an NC State freshman in 1972. While she was born in New York and raised primarily in Michigan and Mississippi, her family had a history with both the state and university. Her father, Thomas Teague, grew up in Fairmont, North Carolina, and received a BS in electrical engineering from NC State in 1936.

Sigal had an outstanding academic career at NC State, serving as a distinguished North Carolina Fellow ? which later became part of the Caldwell Fellows Program, one of the university’s most competitive and prestigious scholarship programs ? and graduated as valedictorian with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She went on to receive master’s degrees in chemistry from Harvard and chemical engineering from MIT and a PhD in molecular biology from Princeton and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health.

While working for Mobil Research and Development Labs, she received three patents for her work in developing new catalysts for petrochemical manufacturing. She subsequently moved to Merck Research Labs where she designed and scaled-up new processes for the production of drugs and vaccines.

Most recently, Sigal traveled the world as the director of international research for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where she oversaw JDRF’s international research portfolio and worked to build partnerships with governmental agencies outside the U.S. to co-fund diabetes research.

Not only has Sigal made numerous significant impacts throughout her professional career, her commitment to students is unwavering. She has created the Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellowship with the American Chemical Society which provides a stipend to a scientist whose work addresses a significant problem involving both chemistry and biology.

She serves the College as vice-chair of the PAMS Foundation Board and as a member of the investment committee, where, according to PAMS Dean Dan Solomon, “Her thoughtful questions and comments have made her our own version of E.F. Hutton. When Cathy speaks up, we know it’s something we should listen to.”

Sigal has left a permanent mark on PAMS and NC State by endowing the Thomas S. Teague Scholarship in memory of her father, which supports both undergraduate students majoring in one of the PAMS disciplines and students majoring in electrical engineering. She is also a strong supporter of annual giving for PAMS and has joined the Dean’s Circle as a founding member.