Lessons Learned and a Foundation Set

Dr. Keith Hearon’s path to becoming an award-winning inventor, leading medical researcher and successful entrepreneur has had many twists and turns.  

He said the education he received at Westminster Schools of Augusta has guided him well to achieving success. 

“As I moved from college to graduate school to founding a company, I repeatedly found that my 13 years at Westminster effectively shaped every area of my life, from personal to professional to spiritual,” said Hearon, Class of 2005. “Westminster taught me to compete, to communicate, to fight, to compromise, to win, to lose, and, most importantly, to learn.”

Considered one of the best young minds in the world of polymer chemistry, Hearon invented his first plastic at age 21. He now has more than 11 patents pending or issued in materials science, aerospace engineering and biotechnology. 

One of his most noteworthy patents is the one Hearon secured for Citrene™, a high-performance plastic made from citrus oil that behaves like plexiglass.

The idea for Citrene™ came in 2012 when Hearon received a call from a friend who worked in the corporate office of a fast food company that annually produced nearly 50,000 tons of lemon peels as trash. The friend asked Hearon, who has halfway through completing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, to invent a high value materials solution for it.

Using citrus peel waste, Hearon created what he would trademark as Citrene™. The material received international recognition and was named a finalist in the 2014 U.S. Collegiate Inventors Competition.

After completing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, Hearon continued his training in Massachusetts Institute of Technology's storied Langer Lab for two years, ending in 2016.

From 2014-2016, Hearon was, as far as he knew, MIT’s only fast food-sponsored medical device researcher and developed wound healing medical technology made from Citrene™, uniquely biocompatible and degradable in the body. 

In summer 2016, Hearon decided to leave the Langer Lab and MIT’s business school, where he was also enrolled as a student, to become the co-founder and CEO of Poly6, an MIT-born startup that uses 3D printing to enable advanced manufacturing in the aerospace sector.  

After Westminster, Hearon earned a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science & Engineering in 2009 from Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including Westminster’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award and nearly $800,000 in grants. 

Today, he chairs the External Advisory Board to the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech and is the recipient of Georgia Tech’s 2020 Outstanding Young Alumni award.  He is also a volunteer Visiting Scholar at Boston University helping Ph.D. students realize translational research aspirations in Chemistry for Biomedical Engineering applications.

Keith lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Caitlin. The Hearons recently welcomed into their family their first child, Michael Keith Hearon, III.

Keith Hearon | Westminster






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