A book about the life and work of biochemist Dr. Will D. Carpenter, a former College of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board member and retired executive at Monsanto Company, was published by Front Porch Press this month. will d… a life in science covers Carpenter’s contributions to agri-product development, environmental policy, and the disarmament of chemical weaponry. Author (and friend of the book’s subject) Thomas R. Lawrence writes in his forward that, after hearing so much about Carpenter’s accomplishments, he “harangued” Carpenter about writing a book until Carpenter suggested that Lawrence might write it himself.
“I did just that,” Lawrence writes, “and here it is.”
Carpenter’s life and work offers plenty to fill the pages of will d. One of Carpenter’s biggest impacts in the world of agriculture, for example, has been his work overseeing the development and marketing of Monsanto products RoundUp and Lasso — herbicides that have helped farmers ensure the viability of their crops and have contributed to an increase in global food production. Despite the constant barrage of criticism from environmental groups suspicious of these products’ safety, Lawrence shares stories from Carpenter’s life illustrating that, in light of such pressure, Carpenter ”would confidently hold his own in front of numerous Congressional Hearings, and give expert reasoning as to why the work he had participated in was not only safe for the environment, but substantially improved the lives of millions of people.”
“Insuring food for millions of people who would otherwise go hungry,” Lawrence says, ”was the conviction that would drive Dr. Carpenter” in his career at Monsanto.
Similar humanitarian concerns led Carpenter to seek solutions to problems beyond the realm of agriculture; his decades-long leadership within the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — during which time Carpenter acted as an “honest broker” between academia, industry, and government to impress upon international leaders the importance of chemical disarmament — resulted in the ratification of The Chemical Weapons Treaty in 2003. On December 10, 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work.
Carpenter contributed his scientific expertise to Webster through his relationship with College of Arts & Sciences Dean David Carl Wilson and his tenure as a College Advisory Board member from 2003 to 2009. Chapter 26 in will d… a life in science opens with Carpenter and Dean Wilson’s first meeting in 2004; Carpenter, Lawrence writes, had found in Dean Wilson a “kindred soul.” The two would work together over the coming years to develop a graduate degree program in Science and Intellectual Property, launching the program in 2010.
The College’s current US Patent Practice program (housed in the Department of Biological Sciences) and its forthcoming Computational Biology program are both indebted to Carpenter’s guidance. They are the direct off-shoots of Carpenter’s scientific knowledge, industry connections, and desire to see Webster’s degree offerings remain competitive in a rapidly-growing field.
Webster University President Elizabeth (“Beth”) Stroble summarizes Carpenter’s legacy in her blurb for will d… a life in science:
“To know Will Carpenter is to know at once a compassionate mentor, master storyteller, and world-renowned researcher and chemical weapons treaty advocate.”
To learn more about will d…a life in science and order a copy, visit willdcarpenter.com.