Dr. Grant DuBois (’67) is considered to be the “Father of Sweetener Research,” holds nearly 100 patents and was the first to be named a Research Fellow by The Coca-Cola Company. Yet, he says none of it might have been possible without the education and mentorship he received at Capital University.
Today, DuBois is one of the foremost consultants in the international food and beverage industry. He says he does not think his career would have taken him in the same direction “if I hadn’t had some of the mentors I had like Carl Sievert.”
Sievert was a legendary Capital University chemistry professor and department chair who took DuBois under his wing when he arrived on campus from Niagara Falls, NY. DuBois, along with a cousin from a large extended family where there were 45 first cousins, were the first two to finish college.
“There was not a lot of experience in my family in choosing a college,” DuBois says. “My parents’ wish was that I attend a church-affiliated college and that was Capital. It was a really good start. I think if I’d gone to a much larger university, I might have gotten lost in the shuffle.”
It was DuBois’ first time away from home and the 360-mile distance “seemed like going half-way around the world” at the time. Today, it’s not uncommon for DuBois to travel half-way around the world to a refinery in Thailand, where he works as the Chief Scientific Officer for Singapore-based Almendra, which produces high-quality stevia sweeteners and taste modulators.
Throughout his career, he has helped develop some of the sweeteners found in calorie-free food and beverages including Truvia, which was one of his collaborations while working as the top scientist and Research Director for Coke.
But DuBois says it was Dr. Sievert’s guidance that helped him discover the opportunities available for a chemistry major. “He invited me to go along with him to attend a seminar at Ohio State University,” DuBois remembers. “It gave me a lot of confidence as a ‘green’ kid. He encouraged me to go to graduate school.”
After graduating from Capital, DuBois earned a doctorate in chemistry at State University of New York at Buffalo and did post-doctorate research at Stanford University.
To show his appreciation for the education he received as an undergraduate, DuBois intends to make a gift of $1.5 million to fund a professorship in chemistry at Capital University. It is a contribution that he hopes will help other students to benefit like he did. “I do feel a debt of gratitude to Capital and people like Carl Sievert and other professors at Capital who helped me move in the right direction career-wise and in other things I have done,” he says.
Almendra will soon be making an initial public offering and DuBois felt the timing was right to give back to the university that gave him his start. “You can’t take it with you,” he says. “Why not apply it to a cause that would benefit other people?”
It is his hope that the gift will fund educators who will engage in research, be a positive influence in recruiting students and, most importantly, will emphasize the importance of innovation. “The whole secret to success is you have to innovate,” DuBois says. “If you innovate and regularly come up with things to make money for your company, you’re always going to have a job.”
DuBois has many fond memories from his days at Cap and enjoys recounting the antics of his Sigma Tau Omega fraternity. He returned to campus in 2017 to speak to MBA students, where he was treated as something of a rock star by students who hope to follow the trail he has blazed. He was awarded the Capital Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018.
DuBois and his wife Mary live in Arizona with their two dogs, Lucky and Ziggy. They are the parents of three grown children and have three grandchildren.