Welch Foundation Gift Establishes Dervan Distinguished Lecture Series

November 19, 2021

The Welch Foundation, one of the nation’s largest private funding organizations for basic chemical research, has established The Peter B. Dervan Distinguished Lecture Series, an endowed lectureship at The University of Texas at Austin.

The lecture series honors Peter B. Dervan, who will retire from the foundation's Scientific Advisory Board after 33 years of service, with seven years as chair, for his many contributions to The Welch Foundation and the field of chemistry.

The Peter B. Dervan Distinguished Lecture Series will be an endowed lectureship in the Cockrell School of Engineering, funded by a $525,000 gift given by The Welch Foundation. Of this gift, $500,000 will be used to create a permanent endowment to establish and support the lecture series, while the remaining $25,000 will provide support for the inaugural lecture in 2021-2022. Through this series, the Cockrell School will host an annual lecture and invite a highly distinguished scientist to speak. The event will be followed by a reception and dinner to thank the speaker and to recognize Peter B. Dervan.

“We are extremely grateful for the continued support provided by The Welch Foundation and for its generous gift of this new Distinguished Lecture Series,” said Sharon L. Wood, Executive Vice President and Provost at The University of Texas at Austin and former Dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “We look forward to celebrating the legacy of Dr. Dervan and bringing in outstanding members of the engineering and science communities to inspire our students, faculty and staff through these lectures.”

Peter Dervan Welch

Peter Dervan’s accomplishments while on the Scientific Advisory Board have been tremendous. During his tenure as a science advisor, Dervan recommended to the Directors that over $500 million in grants be approved for funding. Dervan also selected or participated in selecting at least seven of the current Scientific Advisory Board members and 2 previous members, reshaping the composition of the science board to accommodate the ever-expanding scope of chemical research.

“Under Peter’s leadership, The Welch Foundation has impacted countless researchers, faculty and students across Texas as they work towards scientific breakthroughs that will change lives,” said Carin Barth, chairman of The Welch Foundation Board of Directors “We appreciate his years of service and hope that this lecture series will inspire future generations of scientists for years to come.”

Dervan received his B.S. from Boston College and Ph.D. from Yale. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and began his association with the California Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in 1973. Dervan served as chair of Caltech’s division of chemistry and chemical engineering from 1994 to 1999. Currently, Dervan is the Bren Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at Caltech. Dervan pioneered a field of chemistry with studies directed toward understanding the chemical principles for the sequence specific recognition of DNA. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the French Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences.

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