Leaders in Their Fields: Dr. David Walt, Michele May, Ed Brakeman, and Barbara Carlisle Inspire ALA Students with Seminars and Engaging Conversations 

In March, ALA had the privilege of hosting Dr. David Walt, Michele May, Ed Brakeman, and Barbara Carlisle for two days. During their stay, they interacted with students, staffulty, and alumni. Dr. Walt, Michele May, and Ed Brakeman conducted seminars, sharing their expertise in their respective fields. 

Dr. David Walt holds the esteemed position of Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Bioinspired Engineering at Harvard Medical School, as well as being a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. His laboratory pioneered the use of microwell arrays for single-molecule detection and analysis, which has revolutionized genetic and proteomic sequencing. This technology has become the gold standard in various applications, including genetic screening, studying disease in preserved tissues, improving crop disease resistance, and determining individual metabolic profiles to ensure accurate drug dosage. During his visit, Dr. Walt delivered a lecture on “Genomics and the Future of Africa,” focusing on the impact and ethical implications of genomics for the African continent. 

Michele May, a former executive in the financial sector, now devotes her time and energy to working as a volunteer advisor to non-profit organizations. She taught a class titled “The Secret Sauce of Nonprofits,” which provided insights into the structures and practices that contribute to the success of such organizations. 

Michele May running her session, ‘The Secret Sauce for Successful Nonprofits’

Ed Brakeman, who had a long career at Bain Capital, now focuses on philanthropy and impact investing. Throughout ALA’s journey, Ed has played a crucial role in shaping our programs, providing unwavering support for our alumni, and establishing connections with other funders. His contributions have had an immeasurable impact on both ALA as an institution and the lives of our students. During his visit, Ed conducted a seminar on Impact Investing, offering insights into current trends in the sector and sharing real-life examples from his work.  Joining him in the presentation was Jubilate Lema ’08 (Tanzania), an accomplished ALA graduate and the founder of FarmTime. Ed, who served as an early investor in FarmTime, and Jubilate emphasized the profound potential of early investments in fostering sustainable growth. 

Apart from teaching, the visitors engaged with alumni through virtual conversations, connecting with those excelling in the fields of science. They also had the opportunity to interact with alumni in person during an event held in Johannesburg. 

ALA expresses deep gratitude to our visitors for the valuable time they spent on campus and the knowledge they shared with our students. We eagerly look forward to welcoming more visitors as the world reopens. 


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