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Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success: David R. Walt

by Linda Wang
January 2, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 1

David R. Walt
Credit: Tufts University
Photo of David R. Walt.
Credit: Tufts University

Sponsor: Kathryn C. Hach Award Fund

Citation: For inventing and commercializing microwell arrays that benefit research, medicine, and agriculture with tremendous impact on the economy through job and value creation.

Current position: university professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Tufts University

Education: B. S., chemistry, University of Michigan; Ph.D., chemical biology, SUNY at Stony Brook

Walt on his scientific role model and why: “I’d have to say George Whitesides. He was my postdoctoral mentor and has been a stalwart supporter and friend for over three decades now. From George, I learned how to look outside of my narrow field for interesting and important problems. He views science as his playground and there is nothing that deters him; in fact, disproving dogma often attracts him. He enjoys being the only naysayer and then sets out to prove he’s right. And many times, he is. George is also a strong supporter of the people who have worked in his lab—another characteristic I admire and try to emulate.”

What his colleagues say: “Walt is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in chemistry and perhaps all of science. He has a long record of translating technologies to the commercial sector and has founded multiple successful companies with an aggregate value over $20 billion and that employ thousands of people. His technologies have had a profound impact in the fields of medicine, agriculture, the environment, and pharmaceutical and chemical process control.”—Joseph M. DeSimone, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; North Carolina State University; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center



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