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Department of Biology, University of California at Riverside

John Alexander Moore

(1915-2002)

Professor Emeritus John Alexander Moore, a distinguished biologist and a long-standing member of the National Academy of Sciences, died on May 26 at his home in Riverside. His wife, Dr. Betty Moore, was with him. He had been in declining health in recent months, but still maintained that spark and spirit that was uniquely John.

John grew up in rural Virginia (and frequently reminisced about the rustic environment in which he was raised). His long and active scientific career spanned seven decades, beginning when he published his first research paper as a teen-ager and continuing until his death (his latest book, "From Genesis to Genetics," was published in early 2002 by the UC Press and is about to enter a second printing). John was educated at Columbia University, where he received his PhD in 1940, and joined Barnard College while in his twenties. He soon moved back to Columbia as a faculty member, quickly rising to chair an illustrious department that included Theodosius Dobzansky and numerous other scientific luminaries. He joined the UCR faculty in 1969 and retired in 1982. 

John was one of those people who seemed to have been everywhere and known everyone; he was personally acquainted with most of the towering figures of 20th century biology. He was a highly distinguished and honored scientist with research interests ranging from developmental biology to population genetics, and he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the early 1960s. Additionally, he was a classic Renaissance man with a deep knowledge and appreciation of art, literature, history, archeology, religion, and a diverse range of other disciplines. But he is perhaps best known for his unending devotion to science education, which he served at all levels from classroom instruction to textbook writing (including the highly regarded Biological Sciences Curriculum Study texts for high school - still in print after 40+ years -- and the "Science as a Way of Knowing" series for university-level instruction) to committees and study groups too numerous to mention. John was especially devoted to defending the teaching of evolution as an essential component of any complete modern curriculum. Appropriately enough, the last major award he received - one that he was especially proud of - was the 2002 Education Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Personally, John was an exceptionally warm and compassionate person with a remarkably diverse circle of friends and acquaintances from around the world. He fostered numerous careers and made a point of enjoying life to its fullest. He loved to travel and as recently as last summer fulfilled a life-long dream by traversing the Northwest Passage on a Russian icebreaker. All of us who knew him were enriched by his friendship and amazed by his incredibly full and productive life, and he will be sorely missed.