Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: John D. Weete

Recognized for Exceptional Leadership of Research Enterprises

John D. Weete (Ph.D. ’70) is the 2023 recipient of NSM’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The honor was presented at NSM’s da Vinci Society and Distinguished Alumni Recognition Dinner on April 4.

John D. Weete & NSM Dean Dan Wells

John D. Weete & NSM Dean Dan Wells Established in 2017, the award is bestowed upon NSM alumni for exceptional achievement in their professional field, involvement in the community, and demonstrated innovative change to improve the lives of others through their work.

After receiving his B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University, Weete came to the University of Houston to complete his Ph.D. in biology.

Weete’s successful career spans work as a university professor, scientist, and administrator.

He served as a Staff Scientist at the Lunar Science Institute, as Professor, Associate Dean, and Director at Auburn University, as Vice President of Research and Economic Development at West Virginia University, President of the WVU Research Corporation, and Executive Director of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.

“John has an exceptional record in leading research enterprises at major universities,” said NSM Dean Dan Wells.

Under his leadership at WVU, funding for research more than doubled, and he was instrumental in establishing the infrastructure for linking the research enterprise to economic development. Weete is credited as “architect of the WVU Research Enterprise” in a book on the history of WVU.

“My career really started here at UH with the mentoring and teaching from the faculty in general, and in particular, Drs. Darrell Weber, S. Venketeswaran, and John Oro, who helped me get started in research,” Weete said.

“I cannot imagine another career path for me. My experience in science and academics afforded me the opportunity to work with outstanding students and collaborate with scientists in the U.S. and internationally. It has also enabled me to live for brief periods outside the U.S. which culturally enriched my life both personally and professionally.”

He authored two editions of his book on Fungal Lipid Biochemistry, has written numerous scientific publications, and holds four U.S. patents. Weete has served on several boards including the National Academy of Inventors. He was an Alumni Professor at Auburn University, inducted as a Fellow in the National Academy of Inventors, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Nominations for the award are accepted during a two-month nomination period, typically opening in September. The selection process involved a group of faculty who reviewed nominations.

- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics