On Friday we learned of the death of Lewis Wolpert, a huge figure in developmental biology, a popular science writer and communicator. Here we’ve gathered some memories of Wolpert from the internet – please share your own with a comment below the piece.
No one who met Lewis could fail to be impressed by his intellect, warmth and humour. Always keen to engage with scientists, regardless of career stage, it was common to see him in animated debates with students and post-docs at conferences. His oratory skills gave him a Thespian aura that could have graced a Shakespearian stage.
Philip Ingham – writing for the Society of Developmental Biologists Singapore
Lewis Wolpert had beautiful ideas and expressed them with elegant words. He inspired so many of us to become developmental biologists
Sally Lowell – writing one of the BSDB committee members’ recollections. They also link to Wolpert’s 2015 Waddington Medal Lecture, embedded below, an award that led Development to interview him.
Wolpert combined his interest in fundamental problems of development with a parallel career as a science communicator. He enjoyed performing in public, and brooked no compromise in his quest to persuade people that “science is the best way to understand the world”.
Memories from Twitter
The journal Development has asked if I might write about Lewis Wolpert. I’ll cover his science, of course, but Twitter has shown over the last couple of days how kind he was and how many lives he touched. If you have any stories I might include, can you email me? Please re-Tweet!
— Jim Smith (@ProfJimSmith) January 30, 2021
Please email Jim your stories: firstname.lastname@example.org
#LewisWolpert, one of the most influential thinkers in #devbio, has completed his 91 yr developmental journey. As a student in the Tickle & Wolpert lab, I admired how Lewis treated every person, be they an undergraduate or a FRS, as a colleague. He cared about the ideas —status & pic.twitter.com/87laljP8pR
— Marty Cohn's Lab (@CohnLab) January 29, 2021
So saddened to hear about the loss of Lewis Wolpert to Covid. An influencer, provocateur and conceptionalist of developmental biology, he will be remembered for defining positional information and gradient models but also for his honesty towards the human fragile condition.
— Ruth Lehmann (@REMLehmann) January 29, 2021
I miss Lewis Wolpert already. I will ever remember the sparkle of warmth and joy in his eyes. He asked me 15 years ago how many cells the mouse embryo needs to survive. We addressed it with @morris_lab and dedicated the paper to him. The number is 4.
— Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz (@ZernickaGoetz) January 29, 2021
I loved Lewis. Wonderful man. An inspiration. Charming, large-hearted, brilliant and wise. I’ll miss the light in his eye when he was trying to start an argument. If there is a God, Lewis will be one atheist she/he’ll definitely want in heaven. Where they’ll be arguing. https://t.co/lf0Zbf7NFM
— Buzz Baum (@BaumBuzz) January 28, 2021
Yesterday we lost Lewis Wolpert, a giant whose shoulders all #developmental biologists have been blessed to stand in. I had the pleasure to meet him personally when I was a #PhD student @IGCiencia and every year I mention his famous #gastrulation sentence to my students pic.twitter.com/rVUxySo9uN
— Sofia Araújo – mode mask ON (@sofiajaraujo) January 29, 2021
#LewisWolpert, scientist/thinker extraordinaire, belongs to that breed of scientists who leave an imprint on the field and in the minds and souls of those fortunate enough to interact with them. He had visions and metaphors that still inspire and will inspire many. pic.twitter.com/YLcyQJJt1i
— A. Martinez Arias (@AMartinezArias) January 28, 2021
So sad to hear this news. It was Lewis Wolpert’s French Flag model of morphogens that got me into developmental biology. Also when I was a PhD student he sat next to me at a conference breakfast because I was all alone. What an incredible scientist and nice man. https://t.co/D2xftfDUJi
— Yanlan Mao (@YanlanMao) January 28, 2021
Sad to hear Lewis Wolpert has died
An intellectual giant of developmental biology, committed contrainain but great supporter of many in the field
I have fond memories of several extended lunches in UCL’s Housman Room while Lewis held court & entertained https://t.co/4U11cMHupY
— James Briscoe (@briscoejames) January 28, 2021