Peter Courtland Agre

It’s tempting to draw a line between Dr. Peter Agre’s Chemistry merit badge—the first merit badge he earned—and his Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Unfortunately, that line would have to run through the D he was earning in high school chemistry before he dropped the course.

In any event, Scouting taught Agre far more important lessons than chemistry—lessons about values, leadership, and self-reliance. It also instilled in him a deep love for adventure in the wilderness that he shared with his son’s Boy Scout troop. As an assistant Scoutmaster, Agre also led numerous trips to one of the BSA’s high-adventure bases.

When he wasn’t leading Scout trips, Agre was leading research teams at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he served as a professor in the departments of Biological Chemistry and Medicine. It was there that he and another researcher discovered a protein that regulates how water moves in and out of cells. That discovery earned him and his colleague the 2003 Nobel Prize.

Agre likes to congratulate new Eagle Scouts on their accomplishment, and he often tells them, “The Nobel was cool, but being an Eagle Scout was cool. That was just as cool.”