With generous support from C.C. Li’s two children, Carol S. Li and Steven M. Li, and his wife, Clara, established the C.C. and Clara Li Endowed Scholarship in summer 2015.
Devoted to advancing the recruitment of top master's and doctoral applicants to the Department of Human Genetics, the endowment can be used to support tuition, travel, or other educational expenses for students studying at any level in the department. C. C. and Clara Li Scholar Awards are offered to an incoming student from each of the department’s programs. Awards may also be usedto help promising current students attend a scientific meeting to present their research.
The award honors the legacy of C.C. Li, who served as chair of the Department of Biostatistics and was a biostatistics and human genetics faculty memberat Pitt Public Health for more than 45 years. A recipient of the American Society of Human Genetics Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education, Li authored several textbooks—including First Course in Population Genetics—that are considered to be classics in the field and have been translated into several languages.
The Li family’s generous support of Pitt Public Health dates back many years and also includes a $1 million planned gift commitment to create a research fund for the Department of Human Genetics. The inaugural C.C. and Clara Li scholars were awarded in 2017, and formally announced at the 2018 C.C. Li Memorial Lecture.
I first met C.C. Li when I was a graduate student at UCLA and C.C. teaching a course in population genetics as a visiting scholar. While his class was very good and I learned a lot, I had no idea that later I would be fortunate enough to come to Pittsburgh to his department.
Shortly after my arrival in Pittsburgh in the early 1990s, I had the pleasure of working with C.C. on a paper dealing with the probability of a random match between the two DNA profiles of a pair of individuals. The mathematics was challenging, and it was difficult to visualize exactly what was going on in our multidimensional model. Then, one morning, C.C. came into my office with an elegant three-dimensional paper model that he had made that provided great insight into the properties of our model. I kept this wonderful paper model on top of my computer monitor for many years as a gentle reminder that the best mathematical modeling often results from sharp intellectual insight, rather than from extensive computer-based simulations.