FRANCISCO J. AYALA, professor of biological sciences and philosophy, director of the Bren Fellows Program, University of California at Irvine; Chairman, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Member, President's Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology.
Francisco Ayala has an undergraduate degree in physics. His interest in evolutionary genetics began while he was in Spain working on philosophy.
He came to study evolutionary biology at Columbia University, New York, under Theodosius Bobzhansky in the early 1960s. Since then, his research has included the processes by which new species come about and understanding how much-and why-genetic diversity occurs in a population.
Specifically, Ayala's research focuses on molecular evolutionary clocks and uses DNA changes. Through these changes, he reconstructs the processes of evolution and their relationships among species. He then can draw conclusions about the common ancestors of species. As a reader of THE SCIENTIST, Ayala says: "THE SCIENTIST gives valuable information on what's going on-nationally and internationally-in science policy. When I'm finished with an issue, I pass it on to my students."