2024 Honorary Doctorate Recipient



Dr. Michael S. Waterman

Oregon State alumnus, Dr. Michael S. Waterman, will be presented with an honorary doctorate at OSU's 2024 university-wide commencement ceremony in Corvallis.


Dr. Waterman is an internationally celebrated mathematician and biologist known for his extraordinary contributions to science, dedication to education and impact on multiple disciplines. He is an eminent figure in bioinformatics and globally recognized as a trailblazer in computational biology. Dr. Waterman is considered an architect of the groundbreaking Human Genome Project which advanced genomics and deepened the world’s understanding of life’s genetic foundations.

His collaborative innovation in developing the Smith-Waterman algorithm is a monumental breakthrough. This algorithm revolutionized sequence alignment and is described as the “gold standard for gene and protein sequence analysis.” The Smith-Waterman algorithm has become an indispensable tool in bioinformatics, molecular biology, and genetics, and has profoundly impacted molecular biology, medicine, cancer treatment and biofuel development.

Dr. Waterman has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades including the Guggenheim Fellowship, university professor emeritus at the University of Southern California and distinguished research professor at the University of Virginia. He is an elected member of esteemed academies such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering. He is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Institute of Mathematical Statistics and became the first fellow of Celera Genomics. Dr. Waterman has received a Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Dan David Prize, the Walter Benter Prize in Applied Mathematics, and the Friendship Award from the Chinese government. He is a founding editor of Journal of Computational Biology and is on the editorial board of several journals.

Serving on the College of Science Board of Advisors, Dr. Waterman received the college’s Lifetime Achievement in Science Award in 2020.

Dr. Waterman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Oregon State University and a PhD in Statistics and Probability from Michigan State University. He grew up in rural southwest Oregon. He has created an endowed scholarship for College of Science students and is recognized in the Harris Society, which honors donors who have made gift commitments of $1 million or more.

Dr. Waterman’s dedication to pushing the frontier of knowledge and his commitment to education are extraordinary. President Murthy and Provost Feser will present Dr. Waterman with an Honorary Doctorate in Mathematics at Oregon State’s 155th commencement ceremony.