Fact Sheet

Brief History

Robert Alonzo Welch was born February 15, 1872, in Newberry, South Carolina.  In 1886, at the age of 14, he left South Carolina and, alone, came to Houston, Texas to establish his adult life and career.

He became interested in the oil and sulfur business during their early development and, through sound judgment, untiring energy and patience, he amassed a substantial fortune.  He never married, but was devoted to his immediate family.

In 1952, at 80 years of age, he died and left an estate of approximately $25,000,000 to be used to create a charitable Foundation to support research in chemistry.

Through Mr. Welch's benevolence, The Welch Foundation currently supports a broad research program designed to benefit humankind through chemical research.


  1. Research Grants – Currently 24 Texas universities and colleges have grants with approximately 1,500 persons involved in research under the program.
  2. Departmental Grants - The program encourages students at 39 colleges and universities to study chemistry and to continue into graduate work, industry and other aspects of chemistry.
  3. Welch Award in Chemistry - Each year, the Foundation recognizes a scientist who has made important chemical research contributions which have a significant, positive influence on humankind.  The Welch Award consists of a certificate, a gold medallion and $500,000.
  4. Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research – This award recognizes the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers.  The Hackerman Award consists of a certificate, a sculpture and $100,000.
  5. Annual Conference on Chemical Research - Scientists from throughout the world attend a two-day Foundation-sponsored conference on research in chemistry.
  6. Welch Summer Scholar Program (WSSP) - The Foundation sponsors a summer research program for talented pre-college chemistry students.
  7. Scholarships - The Foundation, through the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation, annually supports Texas high school graduates studying chemistry.
  8. University Chairs - The Foundation has participated in sponsoring 47 chairs in chemistry and related sciences.
  9. Publications - Annual Report and Annual Report Supplement

Directors and Officers

The Board of Directors is charged with the stewardship of the Foundation. Current directors, officers and auxiliary advisory board are:

Carin Marcy Barth, Chair and Director
Douglas L. Foshee, Vice Chair and Director
Gina A. Luna, Treasurer and Director
Frederick W. Brazelton, Secretary and Director
William F. McKeon, Director
Norbert Dittrich, President

Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) advises the Board of Directors on scientific issues relatedto the Foundation's mission.  They evaluate proposals for research grants, review and recommend finalists for the Welch and Hackerman Awards and help oversee the other Foundation programs to promote chemistry in Texas.  Current members are:

Peter B. Dervan, Chair; Bren Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology

Jennifer A. Doudna, Li Ka Shing Chancellor's Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, University of California, Berkeley

Joseph L. Goldstein, Regental Professor and Chairman of Molecular Genetics, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Roger D. Kornberg, Winzer Professor in Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine

W. E. Moerner, Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University

Catherine J. Murphy, Larry R. Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Melanie S. Sanford, Moses Gomberg Distinguished University Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan

Richard R. Schrock, Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Peter G. Schultz, Chief Executive Officer and Scripps Professor of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute

James L. Skinner, Crown Family Professor and Director of the Water Research Initiative, University of Chicago

Xiaowei Zhuang, David B. Arnold Jr. Professor of Science and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Harvard University

Address Information

The Welch Foundation
Mr. Norbert Dittrich, President
5555 San Felipe, Suite 1900
Houston, Texas 77056-2730
Phone: 713.961.9884