OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University will award an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree to Paul Alan Cox at the university’s 138th commencement on Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. in the Dee Events Center.
Cox, who has spent decades searching for new medicines to address several major illnesses, also will deliver the commencement address.
Cox’s career began after education that included graduating summa cum laude from Brigham Young University and being selected as valedictorian in 1976. He also earned a master’s degree at the University of Wales in Maine and later received his PhD in biology from Harvard University.
Cox spent three decades searching for new medicines from plants used by traditional healers in the Pacific and Southeast Asia — an activity that led to Time magazine naming Cox one of 11 “Heroes of Medicine” and to two documentary films highlighting his work in Samoa.
Cox also received the Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts in preserving Somoan rain forests.
As executive director of the Institute for EthnoMedicine in Jackson, Wyo., Cox focuses his research on finding and fighting the causes of neurodegenerative illness, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Cox founded and chairs Seacology, an environmental organization that has preserved 98,000 acres of rain forest and 1.7 million acres of coral reef on islands throughout the world.
A prolific author, Cox has published four books and more than 175 scientific papers. He also is a former president of the Society of Economic Botany and the International Society for Ethnopharmacology and served on committees of other distinguished societies.
Cox’s ties to WSU include serving as outside evaluator of its botany program, as a visiting research professor in the botany department, and as chairman of the College of Science Advancement Board.
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- Bev Rudd, University Advancement event coordinator
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- Brice Wallace, office of Media Relations
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