We are proud to recognize Dr. H. Keith McDowell (’66) as the 2022 WFU Friends of Chemistry
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. He has accomplished at the highest levels of academic research
and administration. Below are some highlights from his career.-He went from Wake Forest to Harvard
where he worked with Nobel Laureate, Martin Karplus.
-He took a teaching position at Clemson where he earned tenure in just 4 years.
-He won a very prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship which he used on sabbatical at Los
Alamos and wound up the Group Leader of their Physical Chemistry Group.
-He moved to UT Arlington to chair their Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. He
rose up the ladder to VP of Research and he also won a UT Chancellor’s Award for
Excellence in Teaching.
-Having become a very productive research administrator, he went to Alabama to be their first
Vice President of Research. After instituting programs invigorating their research as well as
their patenting and commercialization, he moved back to Texas to serve as Vice Chancellor for
Research and Technology Transfer for the entire UT system. At Texas, he instituted major
Keith retired from the UT system in 2010, but did not stop working. In 2014 he began teaching
about Research Administration part-time at Johns Hopkins. He has also become a prolific writer
of novels and family histories. In addition to his non-fiction book “Go Forth and Innovate”, he
has created the Jenna Hill series of novels in which a UT Physics professor, Jenna Hill, is
engaged in solving crimes set on a backdrop of scientific and social issues.
Keith is among the Wake Forest Chemistry department’s most impressive alumni.