Francisco J. Ayala

This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Ayala and the second or maternal family name is Pereda.
Francisco J. Ayala
Born Francisco José Ayala Pereda
(1934-03-12) March 12, 1934[1]
Madrid, Spain
Citizenship Spanish (1934–1971), American (1971–present)
Nationality Spanish-American
Fields Biology, Genetics
Institutions University of California, Irvine
Alma mater University of Salamanca, Columbia University
Doctoral advisor Theodosius Dobzhansky
Doctoral students John Avise
Known for Population genetics
Notable awards National Medal of Science, Templeton Prize
Spouse Mary Henderson (m. 1968, div)
Hana Lostokova Ayala (m. 1985)

Francisco José Ayala Pereda (born March 12, 1934) is a Spanish-American evolutionary biologist and philosopher at the University of California, Irvine.[2] He is a former Dominican priest,[3][4] ordained in 1960,[5] but left the priesthood that same year. After graduating from the University of Salamanca, he moved to the US in 1961 to study for a PhD at Columbia University. There, he studied for his doctorate under Theodosius Dobzhansky, graduating in 1964.[6] He became a US citizen in 1971.

He has been President and Chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[7] At University of California, Irvine, his academic appointments include University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (School of Biological Sciences), Professor of Philosophy, (School of Humanities), and Professor of Logic and the Philosophy of Science (School of Social Sciences).[8]

Research and work

He is known for his research on population and evolutionary genetics, and has been called the "Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology".[9] His "discoveries have opened up new approaches to the prevention and treatment of diseases that affect hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide", including demonstrating the reproduction of Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas disease, is mostly the product of cloning, and that only a few clones account for most of this widespread, mostly untreatable South American disease that affects 16 million to 18 million people.[10]

He has been publicly critical of U.S. restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization that has lobbied Congress to lift federal restrictions on funding embryonic stem cell research. He is also a critic of creationism and intelligent design theories, claiming that they are not only pseudoscience, but also misunderstood from a theological point of view. He suggests that the theory of evolution resolves the problem of evil, thus being a kind of theodicy.[11] Although Ayala generally does not discuss his religious views, he has stated that "science is compatible with religious faith in a personal, omnipotent and benevolent God."[12] He also briefly served, in 1960, as a Dominican priest.[13] He also identifies as a Christian.

He attended the Beyond Belief symposium on November 2006. Ayala debated Christian apologist William Lane Craig in November 2009 on the topic of Intelligent Design.

Awards and honors

In 2001, Ayala was awarded the National Medal of Science.[10] On April 13, 2007, he was awarded the first of 100 bicentennial medals at Mount Saint Mary's University for lecturing there as the first presenter for the Bicentennial Distinguished Lecture Series. His lecture was entitled "The Biological Foundations of Morality". Other awards he has received include the Gold Honorary Gregor Mendel Medal of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Gold Medal of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Gold Medal of the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, the President's Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award and 150th Anniversary Leadership Medal of the AAAS, the Medal of the College of France, the UCI Medal of the University of California, the 1998 Distinguished Scientist Award from the SACNAS, and Sigma Xi's William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, 2000. In 2010, he was awarded the Templeton Prize.[14] The science library at UCI is named after him.[15] Ayala delivered a lecture at the Trotter Prize ceremony in 2011 entitled "Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion." In 2014, UCI named its School of Biological Sciences the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences after Ayala.[16]

Ayala was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977.[17] He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is also a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome, the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He has honorary degrees from the University of Athens, the University of Bologna, the University of Barcelona, the University of the Balearic Islands, the University of León, the University of Madrid, the University of Salamanca, the University of Valencia, the University of Vigo, Far Eastern National University, Masaryk University and University of Warsaw.

Personal life

Francisco Ayala was born to Francisco Ayala and Soledad Pereda. In the late 1960s he met Mary Henderson, they married on May 27, 1968.[18] They had two sons: Francisco José (b. 1969) and Carlos Alberto (b. 1972).[19] Their marriage ended in divorce,[20] and in 1985 he married an ecologist named Hana Ayala (née Lostakova).[21][22] They live in Irvine, California.

On October 18, 2011, it was announced that Professor Ayala would be donating $10 million of his own fortune to UCI's School of Biological Sciences. The gift will be "$1 million a year for the next decade." [23]


Ayala has published 950 publications and 30 books. Recently published books include:


  1. Hall, Brian Keith; Strickberger, Monroe W.; Hallgrímsson, Benedikt (2008). Strickberger's evolution: the integration of genes, organisms and populations. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett. p. 633. ISBN 0-7637-0066-5.
  2. Pinar García, Susana (2016). De Dios y ciencia. La evolución de Francisco J. Ayala. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. ISBN 9788491042358.
  3. "Evolution: Religion: Science and Faith". Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  4. Dreifus, Claudia (April 27, 1999). "A CONVERSATION WITH: FRANCISCO J. AYALA; Ex-Priest Takes the Blasphemy Out of Evolution". New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  5. Richardson, W.; Slack, Gordy (2001). Faith in science: scientists search for truth. London: Routledge. p. 6. ISBN 0-415-25765-4.
  6. Ayala, Francisco (1976;10:1–6.). "Theodosius Dobzhansky: The Man and the Scientist". Annual Review of Genetics. Retrieved April 24, 2009. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. Dean, Cornelia (April 29, 2008). "Roving Defender of Evolution, and of Room for God". New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  8. "Biologist Francisco J. Ayala". The Scientist. February 5, 1996. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  9. "A Conversation with Hana and Francisco J. Ayala". American Association for the Advancement of Science. March 23, 2006. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  10. 1 2 "Biologist Francisco J. Ayala Wins National Medal of Science". University of California. May 9, 2002. Retrieved April 24, 2009.
  11. Ayala, F.J. Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion. Joseph Henry Press: Washington, DC, xi + 237 pp. 2007
  12. Lawton, Graham (2 April 2010). "Templeton prizewinner: We need science plus morality". New Scientist.
  13. Ruse, Michael. Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? : The Relationship between Science and Religion. Cambridge University Press: New York, xi + 242 pp. 2001, p. 75
  14. Dean, Cornelia (March 25, 2010). "Biologist Wins Templeton Prize". New York Times. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  15. "UCI Science Library to be named in honor of Francisco J. Ayala". University of California, Irvine. April 26, 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  16. "UC Irvine's School of Biological Sciences renamed in honor of Francisco J. Ayala". Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  17. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  18. (World of Genetics on Francisco J. Ayala)
  19. (Biologist Francisco J. Ayala Wins National Medal of Science)
  20. "Templeton Prize Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  21. (Hana and Francisco J. Ayala: Separate Careers, a Common Passion for Knowledge)
  22. Elizabeth Sleeman, Taylor & Francis Group, Europa Publications, Europa Publications Limited (2003). The International Who's Who 2004:. Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 1-85743-217-7.
  23. Rivera, Carla (October 18, 2011). "UC Irvine professor donating $10 million to school". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 18, 2011.
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Cultural offices
Preceded by
Eloise E. Clark
President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Succeeded by
Rita R. Colwell
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