Harvard's David Edwards Honored by Michigan Tech

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Michigan Tech has named Harvard biomedical engineer David A. Edwards the winner of its highest honor, the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction. This is only the fifth time the university has awarded the prestigious medal since it was created in 1985.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction recognizes individuals who have had an affiliation with the university and who have exhibited distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It will be presented during Spring Commencement at Michigan Tech on May 5.

Edwards is the Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering at Harvard University, where he has taught since 2002. His research focuses on drug delivery, infectious disease treatment, and needle-less vaccines. He pioneered the technology of aerosol medication, including inhaled insulin.

Edwards also works at the interface between science and the arts, promoting art education for at-risk urban youth. An advisor to the American Repertory Theater, he has written the book Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation, which underscores what Edwards calls “the relevance of artistic engagement as a scientist and scientific engagement as an artist.” It will be published soon.

The Melvin Calvin medal is named for its first recipient, Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin E. Calvin, who won the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with Andrew Benson) for discovering that sunlight acts on the chlorophyll in a plant to produce organic compounds, rather than acting directly on carbon dioxide, as scientists previously believed. Calvin pioneered the use of carbon-14 to study biochemical pathways. The series of biochemical reactions he identified is known as the Calvin cycle.

Other recipients have been

1998 — Elton J. Cairns, professor of chemical engineering, University of California, Berkeley; B.S (1955) in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry from Michigan Tech.
2001 — Richard J. Robbins, vice chairman of the Robbins Company Board of Directors; B.S. (1956) in Mechanical Engineering and Honorary Doctorate in Engineering (1996) from Michigan Tech.
2003 — Octave Du Temple, executive director emeritus of the American Nuclear Society; B.S. (1948) and M.S. (1949) in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Tech.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.