Prestigious Spanish geneticist Francisco Ayala dies at 88 years of age
The prestigious Spanish geneticist Francisco Ayala passed away this Saturday at the age of 88 in California, United States, the country where he developed his career. Born on March 12, 1934 in Madrid, Ayala graduated in science from the Complutense University of Madrid (1955), studied philosophy and theology in Salamanca and in 1960 was ordained a Dominican priest, although he later abandoned religious life.
In 1961 moved to the United Stateswhere he studied Genetics and Biology at Columbia University and worked with the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the founders of the Synthetic Theory of Evolution.
“I just learned a few hours ago that, unfortunately, the. winner of the National Medal of ScienceFrancisco Ayala passed away today, one week shy of his 89th birthday,” scientist Lawrence Krauss said on his website.
Ayala’s research career was focused on the molecular biology and evolutionary and population genetics.including the origin of species, the genetic diversity of organisms and the origin of malaria and other parasitic diseases.
“This is a loss for science and for the world.”The scientist added about his colleague, who was a representative of the so-called neo-Darwinism and whose contributions have been key, among other things, to understand the so-called molecular clock, the biological mechanism that allows to check how far apart two species are.
A former Catholic priest, Krauss recalls, “he became aone of the world’s foremost evolutionary biologists,” Krauss recalls.providing living proof that belief in God did not require one to abandon Darwinian evolution as an explanation for the diversity of species on Earth.”
The final years of his career were tarnished after in June 2018 the University of California Irving (UCI) forced him to resign from all of his positions. at that center after four allegations of sexual harassment were found to be true.
Four women accused him of harassment and the university conducted an exhaustive investigation between November 2017 and May 2018 that included interviews with more than 60 witnesses in addition to the complainants, female employees of the school.
Among the numerous positions he held, he was. a member of President Bill Clinton’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee.. He was also a member of multiple scientific societies around the world, including the U.S. Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
Among the many awards he received are the National Medal for Science-the highest scientific award in the United States-which he won in 2002, the Templeton Prize (2010), and the Capio Prize of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz in Madrid (2010).
He wrote more than 1,100 articles and 50 books -some in collaboration- and was awarded honorary doctorates by more than 20 universities in a dozen countries.