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Ann Welton

  Ann F. Welton    Lake Forest Class of 1969 50th Reunion Submission


Like most of you, in 1965 I came to LFC fresh out of high school. At that time I thought I wanted to be an MD so I focused my interests on completing the premed requirements in the science departments.  Both the Biology and Chemistry departments had a good reputation and the faculty was and continues to be top-notch.  My freshman year I took Beginning Chemistry with Jack Coutts and he was wonderful.  Second year was Organic Chemistry with Bill Martin and that set up some life changing events.  Firstly I discovered that after I had completed all the premed chemistry requirements, I only had to take three more courses in chemistry to complete that major (of course the three more courses were not easy ones including Physical Chemistry!).  More important, through Bill Martin and his wife, Yvonne, who was a PhD researcher at Abbott Labs, I was also able to do independent research on a biochemistry problem which became the subject of my senior thesis.  That experience changed the course of my career as I then focused on biochemical research, received an NSF fellowship to support advanced study, and received a PhD in biochemistry from Michigan State University in 1974. 

Always interested more in research than an academic career, I next moved to a post-doc at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.  Then in 1977, a position opened up at Hoffmann LaRoche in New Jersey where I worked for 20 years in various laboratory and senior research leadership positions in early drug discovery and development research, always trying to identify new and novel drugs for respiratory and inflammatory diseases. 

While in New Jersey I met my husband who is (you guessed it) a chemist, and in the late 1990’s we moved to the west coast to join the biotech community in San Francisco and then San Diego.  It is hard to believe that when I started my research career there were very few, if any, computers and we did lab research in a manner most young scientists now find unbelievable (like doing calculations with slide rules, loading cards with data into computers that took up whole rooms, hand-drawing graphs on graph paper and making slides for presentations by actually taking pictures with film and developing the film in dark rooms).  Now, the new science center at LFC is so impressive and well- equipped that, I must admit, I do envy the current students and their ability to perform research in this new environment.

Although science at Lake Forest College was obviously important to my professional growth, I have always also been appreciative of the liberal arts exposure the college offered.  Most of my college friends were not as focused on science as I was, and that broadened my appreciation for history, art, music, social causes, politics, etc.  I met life-long friends at LFC and look forward to some quality time together at our reunion.  I am now “retired” and, although I do some pharmaceutical research consulting work, I am much more focused on my expanding interest in other liberal art disciplines and am glad to have the time to explore them in much more depth.  I volunteer on the board of our local library, play golf, paint (pictures not houses or walls) and play the trumpet in a local band (of old-timers).  Although I enjoy these activities, it is probably good I chose a career in scientific research, since I must admit, I have not unearthed any undeveloped other talents through these retirement activities!