Walter M. Sparky Matthews, M.D.

Walter M. Sparky Matthews, M.D.
Clinical Professor in the Honors Program
High Res Photo

Clinical Professor in the Honors Program

Honors Program Pre-Medical Mentor


  • Residency in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, 2002
  • Residency in Aerospace Medicine, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, 2001
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Baylor College of Medicine, 1996
  • Master of Science (M.S.), National Security Strategy, The National War College, 2014
  • Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), University of Texas Health Science Center, 2000
  • B.A., Biology/Pre-Healthcare, Baylor University, 1992


Dr. Walter “Sparky” Matthews joined the Honors Program faculty in 2020 after retiring from the U.S. Air Force as the 1st Surgeon General of the United States Space Force.  He earned a B.A. in Biology/Pre-Healthcare from Baylor University, a M.P.H. from the University of Texas Health Science Center, and a M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College.  Dr. Matthews earned his M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, and is board-certified in both Aerospace Medicine and Public Health & General Preventive Medicine.  He teaches courses on the history of medicine, pathophysiology, and freshman seminars on leadership as a physician.  Dr. Matthews is a highly decorated Air Force officer, retiring with the rank of Colonel.  During his career, he achieved 1,113 flight hours in 26 weapon systems, including 197 combat hours and 42 combat support hours.  Dr. Matthews was elected Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association in 2019.

Academic Interests and Research

  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Practice of Medicine in Cis-Lunar and Deep Space
  • History of Medicine
  • History of Military Medicine
  • Pathophysiology and the Basis of Disease
  • National Security and Strategic Use of the Tools of Statecraft

Professional Awards/Activities/Grants and Fellowships

  • Fellow, Aerospace Medical Association
  • 2014 Colonel John M. Collins Military Strategy Award (Writing), The National War College
  • Selected Military Decorations
    • Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster
    • Bronze Star
    • Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters
    • Air Medal
    • Aerial Achievement Medal
    • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
    • Iraq Campaign Medal with one Star
    • Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Clusters

Selected Research

“Outflanking the Tiniest Enemy:  Washington’s Smallpox Inoculation of the Continental Army at Valley Forge, 1777-78,” National War College Master’s Thesis (2014).

“USAF Aeromedical Waiver Experience Regarding Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Controlled with Topical Nasal Steroids,” Residency in Aerospace Medicine Phase II Research (2001).

“The Relationship between Cigarette Smoking and Other Poor Health Behaviors in a Young Adult Population,” Public Health Master’s Thesis (2000)

Ryan, B., Muehlenbein, M., Allen, J., Been, J., Boyd, K., Brickhouse, M., . . . Brickhouse, N. (2021). Sustaining University Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 1-9. doi:10.1017/dmp.2021.69


View Dr. Matthews’ Biographical Page

Honors Program

Morrison Hall 203
One Bear Place #97122
Waco, TX 76798-7122

(254) 710-1119