Will Wellman talks kidney disease research, what it means to try and ‘cultivate hope and joy’


Will Wellman completed his undergraduate degree in horticulture. He did internships with the Audubon Society and the National Parks Service and then went on to grab a master’s in forestry. In many ways, he was poised to do his part in not just cataloging the natural world, but helping build a knowledge base that might one day help preserve the country’s natural resources for future generations.

“I did a two-year project at the end of that forestry degree; I submitted my thesis, graduated, and not even a month later I got sick,” Wellman told CL. His illness, which became a part of his life in 2008, is a rare kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. It affects kids and adults; symptoms include swollen body parts, water weight, foamy urine due to high protein levels in the urine and low energy from a lack of protein in your blood. Left untreated, it leads to kidney failure and death.