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Dartmouth Commencement 2008

Posted 06/08/08

Honorary degree citation to Thomas R. Cech (Doctor of Science)
Thomas R. Cech
Thomas R. Cech

As a young boy growing up in the Midwest, you spent much of your free time poring over science books and studying rocks. It is not likely that you expected your curiosity and passion for science to lead you to discoveries that would shape the fundamental assumptions about science.

Inquisitive by nature, you developed a finely tuned ability to question and to seek alternatives even when the answers seem clear.  You and your wife, Carol, studied biological chemistry, a dynamic field where you combined analysis with creativity. As a faculty member at the University of Colorado for the last thirty years, while pursuing your own research interests, you have encouraged others to explore science. Your discovery that RNA is a catalyst of genetic information shook the underpinnings of our basic tenets. Winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989 expanded your opportunity to advance scientific discovery.

As president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2000, you have helped support the work of faculty and graduate students whose medical advancements will benefit generations to come. Under your leadership the Institute has redesigned science education, providing opportunities for interdisciplinary research in emerging areas. Those who know you best are not surprised that now you are going to return to your own lab. You have never stopped being a scientist and a teacher.

It is with much appreciation and gratitude for your contributions to our understanding of the chemistry of life that Dartmouth now bestows upon you the degree Doctor of Science.

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