Henry Wedler

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Dr. Henry Wedler
Alma materUniversity of California, Davis
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorProf. Dean Tantillo

Dr. Henry "Hoby" Wedler is an American chemist and entrepreneur. He was born blind and has advocated for greater accessibility of science to disabled students. Wedler even suggests that visually impaired chemists could have an advantage over sighted colleagues, due to the need to mentally imagine the structure of organic compounds; "I've been visualizing things my entire life".[1]


While at high school in his native Petaluma, California, Wedler was told by a teacher that his blindness made laboratory chemistry an impossibility.[2] Initially dissuaded from entering science due to such concerns about his disability, Wedler studied both chemistry and US history at university so that he could pursue a PhD in the latter.

Upon meeting Dean Tantillo, who worked alongside him to support Wedler's education and research in his lab group, Wedler started a PhD in Organic Chemistry at University of California, Davis.[3][4] Wedler's research output has included journal articles advocating practical approaches to make chemistry research possible for the visually impaired, discussing education, safety, software and even the functioning of service animals in the lab.[5][6][7] This includes involvement in the creation of software to extract 3D printable-models of molecules from 2D maps available in the literature. Furthermore these models are annotated in braille with information such as bond length.[8] Wedler has conducted computational chemical analysis of the compounds involved in the flavouring of wine, as well as markers for the refinement of olive oil.[9][10]


Wedler founded and remains CEO of the not-for-profit Accessible Science.[11] Through this Wedler ran chemistry camps aimed at visually impaired high school students. These camps focused on skills such as utilizing campers' sense of smell to determine the progression of chemical reactions. Wedler further assures blind people considering a career in chemistry that "nobody can see atoms, and honestly most reactions in higher-level chemistry are clear, so there's no reason you can't think about chemistry".[2][6]

He gave a TEDx Talk in Sonoma County about the role of sensory experience in his life and how important it is to maximise the experiences of taste and smell.[12] After completing his PhD in 2017 Wedler co-founded Senspoint, a consultancy for sensory experiences.[13]


Wedler was presented with a National Achievement Award in 2011 by Learning Ally, an organisation focused on opening typed literature to visually impaired or dyslexic audiences.[14]

For his role in promoting chemistry and science to blind people Wedler became a Champion of Change as part of an initiative run by the White House under Barack Obama. He was recognised for his contributions to the category of 'Stem Equality For Americans With Disabilities'.[15]

Forbes recognised Wedler as one of their 30 Under 30 in the Food and Drink category, emphasising his role in leading blind wine tastings in California.[16] Wedler regularly runs blind wine tasting at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Wine Country, blindfolding the participants so that they can embrace the aroma and flavours of wine without the 'distraction of sight'.[17]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "Braille Monitor: Has No Trouble Visualizing a Doctorate in Chemistry". nfb.org. Retrieved 5 Dec 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Blind Teens Tap Into Senses At Chemistry Camp". nrp.org. Retrieved 2 Dec 2018.
  3. ^ "Hoby Wedler: Part 2". daisy.org. Retrieved 11 Dec 2018.
  4. ^ "Student Spotlight: Henry "Hoby" Wedler". grad.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved 2 Dec 2018.
  5. ^ Wedler, Henry B.; Cohen, Sarah R.; Davis, Rebecca L.; Harrison, Jason G.; Siebert, Matthew R.; Willenbring, Dan; Hamann, Christian S.; Shaw, Jared T.; Tantillo, Dean J. (2012). "Applied Computational Chemistry for the Blind and Visually Impaired". Journal of Chemical Education. 89 (11): 1400–1404. Bibcode:2012JChEd..89.1400W. doi:10.1021/ed3000364.
  6. ^ a b Wedler, Henry B.; Boyes, Lee; Davis, Rebecca L.; Flynn, Dan; Franz, Annaliese; Hamann, Christian S.; Harrison, Jason G.; Lodewyk, Michael W.; Milinkevich, Kristin A.; Shaw, Jared T.; Tantillo, Dean J.; Wang, Selina C. (2014). "Nobody Can See Atoms: Science Camps Highlighting Approaches for Making Chemistry Accessible to Blind and Visually Impaired Students". Journal of Chemical Education. 91 (2): 188–194. Bibcode:2014JChEd..91..188W. doi:10.1021/ed300600p.
  7. ^ Nepomuceno, Gabriella M.; Decker, Debbie M.; Shaw, Julian D.; Boyes, Lee; Tantillo, Dean J.; Wedler, Henry B. (2016). "The value of safety and practicality: Recommendations for training disabled students in the sciences with a focus on blind and visually impaired students in chemistry laboratories". Journal of Chemical Health and Safety. 23: 5–11. doi:10.1016/j.jchas.2015.02.003.
  8. ^ Lounnas, Valère; Wedler, Henry B.; Newman, Timothy; Schaftenaar, Gijs; Harrison, Jason G.; Nepomuceno, Gabriella; Pemberton, Ryan; Tantillo, Dean J.; Vriend, Gert (2014). "Visually impaired researchers get their hands on quantum chemistry: Application to a computational study on the isomerization of a sterol". Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design. 28 (11): 1057–1067. Bibcode:2014JCAMD..28.1057L. doi:10.1007/s10822-014-9782-7. PMID 25091066. S2CID 36093473.
  9. ^ Wedler, Henry; Pemberton, Ryan; Tantillo, Dean (2015). "Carbocations and the Complex Flavor and Bouquet of Wine: Mechanistic Aspects of Terpene Biosynthesis in Wine Grapes". Molecules. 20 (6): 10781–10792. doi:10.3390/molecules200610781. PMC 6272345. PMID 26111168.
  10. ^ Wedler, Henry B.; Pemberton, Ryan P.; Lounnas, Valère; Vriend, Gert; Tantillo, Dean J.; Wang, Selina C. (2015). "Quantum chemical study of the isomerization of 24-methylenecycloartanol, a potential marker of olive oil refining". Journal of Molecular Modeling. 21 (5): 111. doi:10.1007/s00894-015-2652-y. PMID 25860110. S2CID 39277521.
  11. ^ "Accessible Science Board". accessiblescience.org. Retrieved 2 Dec 2018.
  12. ^ "Sensory Literacy Hoby Wedler TEDxSonomaCounty". youtube.com. Retrieved 13 Dec 2018.
  13. ^ "Senspoint: Our Story". senspointdesign.com. Retrieved 6 Dec 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Past National Achievements Awards Winners: 52nd Annual National Achievement Award: 2011 Winners". learningally.org. Retrieved 3 Dec 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Champions of Change: Henry Wedler". obamawhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2 Dec 2018.
  16. ^ a b "30 Under 30: Henry Hoby Wedler". forbes.com. Retrieved 6 Dec 2018.
  17. ^ "Popular blind wine tasting an inspiration". pressdemocrat.com. Retrieved 8 Dec 2018.
  18. ^ "40 Under 40 Winners". bizjournals.com/sacramento. Retrieved 13 Dec 2018.
  19. ^ "Dr Henry 'Hoby' Wedler'". californiacraftbeer.com. Retrieved 13 Dec 2018.
  20. ^ "2017 Inclusion and Diversity Prize Winner". rsc.org. Retrieved 2 Dec 2018.