Director of Grants Programs (Retired), Washington Research Foundation
Dear David, I am honored to be included among the friends and colleagues asked by Diane to contribute our memories of working with you.
Your arrival at WRF was important to many of the staff, but especially to me. Your two greatest impacts were on the formation of the scientific advisory committee and on the postdoc program.
It was board member Sue Coliton who recommended creating a SAC to bring more rigor to our decisions of what research and programs to fund. You became the chair of the SAC and helped recruit excellent and collegial scientists to join you. The quarterly meetings of the grants committee with the SAC were very stimulating. A broader spectrum of opportunities could be considered, risks discussed, appropriate timelines for results, etc.
From my perspective, your biggest contribution to WRF's grant programs was your leadership of the postdoc program. While the importance of postdocs to scientific research was understood, WRF had rarely provided funding directly to them. My years in the lab had shown me that new research directions often originated with the postdocs. Yet how to support postdocs so as to get more innovation was not clear.
You worked closely with WRF's grants committee to create the application, decide on the timelines, and recruit an excellent postdoc selection committee. The stature of the committee members attracted superb applicants. The chance to be mentored by renowned scientists was a huge draw. Now in its sixth year, WRF's postdoc program is both highly visible and highly successful in supporting young scientists. A look through the bios of the first few cohorts shows several startup companies, a good indicator of innovation coupled with a desire to benefit the public.
David, you clearly have a knack for identifying young scientists with great potential to bring new ideas to solve the world's problems. Your legacy will be the many hundreds of scientists whose careers and contributions to scientific knowledge and humanity achieved a higher level because of your mentorship.