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William Walden

Molecular biologist and biology professor William Walden was born on October 13, 1954 in Washington, D.C. to George Ray Walden and Erma Lucille Walden. After graduating from Suitland High School in 1972, he received his B.S. degree in biology from Morgan State University in 1976. During college, Walden worked as a research assistant for the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Baltimore Cancer Research Program. Walden went on to earn his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1983. His final dissertation was entitled,"mRNA Competition in vivo."

In 1987, Walden started his over twenty-year career at the University of Illinois at Chicago as an assistant professor in the College of Medicine's Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He was a recipient of the Schweppe Foundation Career Development award from 1988 to 1991. In 1992, Walden was promoted to associate professor and associate department head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He began working with the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) in 1994, where he chaired the steering committee. Since 2004, Walden has held the position of full professor. In 2006 and 2007, he served as co-chair of the Campus Promotion and Tenure Committee. Walden was a fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation-Academic Leadership Program from 2006 to 2007, which mentors administrators for higher leadership opportunities. Since 2006, he has served as director of the Office of Graduate Diversity Programs, which works to increase the number of underrepresented students who successfully earn a Ph.D. degree in the College of Medicine. In 2007, Walden became the Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity. His research focuses on cellular iron regulation and iron-related gene expression in eukaryotes. Walden has published numerous scientific research articles including his 2006 paper, "Structure of Dual Function Iron Regulatory Protein 1 Complexed with Ferritin IRE-RNA," which was published in the journal, Science .

In addition to his research, Walden has mentored many graduate researchers, and has served on NIH grant review panels and as a peer reviewer for top scientific journals including, Science, EMBO Journal, Blood, and Journal of Biological Chemistry . William Walden lives in Oak Park, Illinois and has two adult children, William A. Walden and Michael D. Walden.

William Walden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 20, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/20/2012

Last Name

Walden

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Morgan State University

Washington University in St Louis

Brooks Road Elementary

Suitland High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WAL16

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/13/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Interesting Food

Short Description

Biology professor and molecular biologist William Walden (1954 - ) has been a leader in the area of cellular iron regulation and iron-related gene expression in eukaryotes. He has served as a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1987.

Employment

University of Illinois, Chicago

Washington University

United States Drug Administration

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center

NIH, NCI, Baltimore Cancer Research Program

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20443">Tape: 1 Slating of William Walden's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20444">Tape: 1 William Walden shares his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20445">Tape: 1 William Walden talks about his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20446">Tape: 1 William Walden talks about his mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20447">Tape: 1 William Walden talks about his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20448">Tape: 1 William Walden discusses his paternal family's way of life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20449">Tape: 1 William Walden explains his paternal family's influence in the church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20450">Tape: 1 William Walden talks about his father's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20451">Tape: 1 William Walden explains his father's experience in the U.S. Navy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20452">Tape: 1 William Walden discusses his father's return from Navy service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20453">Tape: 2 William Walden describes how his parents met in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20454">Tape: 2 William Walden describes his parents' personalities and his mother's dedication to her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20455">Tape: 2 William Walden talks about his siblings and describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20456">Tape: 2 William Walden reflects upon his father's character and disposition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20457">Tape: 2 William Walden talks about his elementary school experience in Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20458">Tape: 2 William Walden describes his first exposure to science and the natural world</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20459">Tape: 2 William Walden talks about his interests as a high school student</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20460">Tape: 2 William Walden describes his experience with integration in junior high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20461">Tape: 3 William Walden describes his introduction to running the 400 meter race on the junior high school track team</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20462">Tape: 3 William Walden talks about his experience on the high school track team</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20463">Tape: 3 William Walden talks about his childhood scientific influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20464">Tape: 3 William Walden discusses the scientific views of his parents, friends, and the church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20465">Tape: 3 William Walden talks about his social experience in high school and applying to college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20466">Tape: 3 William Walden talks about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his high school black student union</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20467">Tape: 3 William Walden describes his experience at Morgan State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20468">Tape: 4 William Walden describes his interest in biology at Morgan State University and the National Institutes of Health</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20469">Tape: 4 William Walden describes his general chemistry professor at Morgan State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20470">Tape: 4 William Walden talks about cafeteria food and religious discourse at Morgan State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20471">Tape: 4 William Walden talks about his history class at Morgan State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20472">Tape: 4 William Walden describes his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree after college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20473">Tape: 4 William Walden describes his decision to attend Washington University in St. Louis for graduate school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20474">Tape: 4 William Walden describes the flexibility of his graduate program at Washington University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20475">Tape: 4 William Walden describes his interest in the control of iron metabolism by cells</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20476">Tape: 5 William Walden describes the cellular response to a surplus of iron</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20477">Tape: 5 William Walden discusses iron deficiency and nutrition - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20478">Tape: 5 William Walden discusses iron deficiency and nutrition - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20479">Tape: 5 William Walden describes his Ph.D. dissertation research on the rate of protein synthesis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20480">Tape: 5 William Walden describes the significance of his Ph.D. dissertation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20481">Tape: 5 William Walden describes his decision to work at the University of Illinois at Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20482">Tape: 5 William Walden talks about balancing his research and teaching responsibilities at the University of Illinois, Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20483">Tape: 6 William Walden talks about the future of his research on the regulation of iron metabolism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20484">Tape: 6 William Walden relates his involvement in studying the role of metals in human health</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20485">Tape: 6 William Walden discusses the metal silver as a health food fad</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20486">Tape: 6 William Walden talks about his research on a national level</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20487">Tape: 6 William Walden discusses the challenges of funding research</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20488">Tape: 6 William Walden talks about his involvement in university administration and diversity development - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20489">Tape: 6 William Walden shares his love for the city of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20490">Tape: 6 William Walden talks about his involvement in university administration and diversity development - part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20491">Tape: 6 William Walden talks about the leaders in the field of cellular iron metabolism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20492">Tape: 7 William Walden talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20493">Tape: 7 William Walden reflects on his legacy and his life choices</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20494">Tape: 7 William Walden talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20495">Tape: 7 William Walden talks about his membership on the Molecular Cellular Hematology Review Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20496">Tape: 7 William Walden reflects on the supportive nature of his parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20497">Tape: 7 William Walden recalls his brother-in-law as a mentor during graduate school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/20498">Tape: 7 William Walden shares his interest in golf and how he would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
William Walden describes his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree after college
William Walden talks about his involvement in university administration and diversity development - part 2
Transcript
Now did you--now at a certain point did you sort of see a path, a career path out of what you were doing at Morgan [State University, Baltimore, Maryland]?$$No. Well yes I did, but it was really quite late. It was--I, I was a, you know, member of the biology club and very interactive with other biology majors there. Virtually all of them were planning to go to medical school and so I went through a period of thinking okay, this is what I'm going to do, I'm going to apply to medical school and see if I can get in and go down that road. And so I was moving in that direction and in my senior, the fall of my senior year as I'm preparing all of these applications, getting ready to take the MCAT [Medical College Admission Test] and all of that, and just one day I stopped and I said why are you doing this? Don't--the way I put it to myself, which I often times will say to students as they're talking about what they want to do now is you know I really realized that I have no patience for patients. I, I cannot in my personality; I can't deal with people at that level every day, virtually twenty-four hours a day. And if I had not realized that and gone down that road, it would have been a very, very different outcome for me now, and may not have been a pleasant or positive one because it's not what I like to do. It's not what I'm comfortable doing, so why do it? And so once I came to grips with that, embraced that whole notion, then I could see a career path at that point, but not until. So it was fairly late then--$$Okay.$$That I saw that I wanted to go to graduate school and I wanted to go directly for the Ph.D. I was never interested in getting a master's [degree] and I actually looked at programs for whether they required you to do a master's first and favored those that did not because--and this was something that some of my instructors at Morgan had also pointed out to me was that there, there isn't a whole lot more that you can do with a master's if you want to do research with a master's than you can do with a B.S. [Bachelor of Science degree] if you really want to do research and you want to be more in control of your own path of research, what you're doing, then you have to get the Ph.D., and so that, that sort of crystallized that path for me.$$Okay so control and latitude to do what you want to do.$$Do what you want to do.$$Comes with the, the license is the Ph.D.$$That's right, that's right. That's minimal. And then, then it is developing the ability to do that and then demonstrating that you actually can do that and you can think of important questions and start working on important questions that people, other people want to know the answers to.$Okay now what are some of your responsibilities right, right now as an assistant to the provost?$$The main responsibility is to develop a diversity strategic plan for the campus. And that's almost complete at this point. But that has been the main responsibility, that's the main task. It's been a long process because I've decided to take the approach that the plan itself is irrelevant. It's really changing the culture of the campus, and that's through communication, through conversation, through dialogue that one begins to change the mindset of the campus about diversity. And that's taken some time but I'm, I think that we're seeing that take hold now. The other part of the responsibility though is to, is to really bring diversity into as many of the activities that come through the provost office as possible. So to bring diversity to the table when we're talking about curriculum, when we're talking about certainly student demographics and recruitment and retention, to bring a perspective that may be a little bit different to efforts to change the outcomes for students, to improve outcomes for students, to think about how to improve faculty diversity and success of faculty, the environment and climate that faculty experience at the university. And then the most difficult one is to, to really start to address issues around the staff that are at the university. I mean the university is, is a jobs place, but how do people feel about working at the university, and how do the talents and skills and, and benefits that each individual bring to the university get realized in their activities, in the way that the university interacts with them. So those are things that, that fall into the realm of my responsibility for, with the provost.$$Okay now do you have any responsibility in advising the various student associations? I don't know if there's an association of African American scientists or Hispanics or you know.$$There, there are offices and activities that might deal with African American students, Hispanic students, Native American students and so forth, and I do engage in, in conversations with them about how to do certain, different things and so forth, and, and provide any leadership or guidance that I might there, or listen to what their concerns are and then bring those concerns to the provost so that the actions can be taken and that sort of thing. But these are still more at the level of, of more of an official administrative structure within the university. I don't interact so much with the student organizations that are centered within the student body itself. I really leave that up to the other bodies that I might interact with to do that. But it is something that--from a university perspective and as we think about this position evolving into the future, where its best positioned in that regard is, is something that we ought to consider. I don't think it would be at the level of the student or the--if we truly want to make--I mean one of the goals of this initiative is to truly drive diversity to the core of the university as much as research and teaching and learning are at the core of what a university is about, so diversity should be sitting there along side. That means that everybody has to be engaged in bringing diversity into the activities of the university. If you place too much on one office in terms of being responsible for that, we don't move it into the core. We really simply have it as a surface layer for the university that can be stripped away as the individual goes away.