UCI Official to Head Science Group in '94

UC Irvine Prof. Francisco Ayala has been chosen president-elect of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.

When he assumes the presidency in 1994, Ayala will become the second UCI faculty member to assume the helm of the AAAS, the world's largest general science organization. Noted environmental chemist F. Sherwood Rowland ends his term as president this month, then assumes a one-year stint as chairman of the association's board of directors.

Ayala, a world-renowned evolutionary biologist, has vowed to battle the teaching of creation science, which he has called a religious doctrine masked as scientific theory. He testified as an expert witness in an Arkansas court case that resulted in the striking down of that state's law requiring equal educational treatment of evolution and creationism.

In his own campaign statement for the AAAS presidency, Ayala emphasized his concern about making more research dollars available for smaller-scale projects by individual scientists. He also cited the need for improving science education in the nation's schools, for increasing the general public's knowledge of science and protecting the environment.

Ayala further suggested that the association should take a more active international leadership role in scientific matters.

Born in Spain, Ayala received his doctoral degree in genetics and evolution at Columbia University in New York City.

He is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, where he serves on the governing council, and has written more than 400 published articles and 10 books.

He came to UCI in 1987 from UC Davis. That year, the AAAS awarded him its Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award. Since his arrival at the Irvine campus, he has been named the Bren Professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Ayala will serve as president-elect of the organization in 1993 under new President Eloise Clark of Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He will become president, in January, 1994, and will serve as chairman of the AAAS board the next year.

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