Keith A. Walker, PhD ’67


“Aware though I was of the application, the call about the award was unexpected. I hope that it means that not only did I know my ‘setup’, along the way I discovered my punchline. I am honored and deeply humbled. Clearly, no one ever does this alone.”

“Most of life is ‘your setup’ (i.e. preparation), the key to success is your punchline. What is yours?” ~ Comedian Michael Jr.

Keith has had a brilliant career of over 40 years in the agriculture biotechnology industry. He was one of the first persons to effectively use plant genetics to modify seeds at a molecular level, first at Monsanto and then at Lubrizol, Plant Genetics, Micogen, and others. Keith’s scholarship and diligence resulted in significant enhancements to breeding techniques and metabolic processes in plants resulting in improved shelf lives for everyday foods, such as tomatoes, peanuts, cooking oils, and candies. In addition, he created a salt-tolerant variety of rice suited to arid environments and increased the heart-healthy aspects of canola oil while at the same time significantly increasing its plant yields and lowering production costs. For his work, which includes authoring numerous articles and reviewed papers in major scientific journals and books, Keith holds two hundred and forty patents, including two for techniques to edit the DNA of crops (CRISPR). Through his vision, successes and leadership, Keith started or co-founded three venture-funded companies: Plant Genetics, Inc. (1981-1989), Cibus Global, Ltd. (2001-2014) and Valley Oils (2012-present). Regardless, this entrepreneur remains humble, kind and generous. To share his knowledge, Keith assists schools in his sunny California community with their long-range planning efforts and established a not-for-profit organization to bring biotech crop improvements to small, landholder farmers in under-developed countries.


BA, College of Wooster, BA 

PhD, Yale University, PhD

Current Occupation

Business Consultant

  • Managed team that launched first Bt tolerant (transgenic) corn in North America

  • Biographed in Marquis Publication on ‘Who’s Who in the West’ 1984 Edition

  • Founder/Co-founder of four venture funded companies

  • Numerous publications/book chapters in scientific journals

  • Inventor/co-inventor of over 200 patents and patent applications in agricultural biotechnology