Francisco José Ayala Pereda (born March 12, 1934) is a Spanish-American evolutionary biologist and philosopher who was a longtime faculty member at the University of California, Irvine and University of California, Davis. He is a former Dominican priest, ordained in 1960, but left the priesthood that same year. After graduating from the University of Salamanca, he moved to the United States in 1961 to study for a PhD at Columbia University. There, he studied for his doctorate under Theodosius Dobzhansky, graduating in 1964. 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. At University of California, Irvine, his academic appointments included 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). On July 1, 2018, Ayala's employment at UC Irvine ended after the university issued a report relating to allegations of sexual harassment claims against him. Ayala denied having "intentionally caused sexual harassment to anybody." His name was removed from the School of Biological Sciences, the Science Library, as well as various graduate fellowships, scholarship programs, and endowed chairs.


He is known for his research on population and evolutionary genetics, and has been called the "Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology". 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. He served on the advisory board of the now defunct Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization that has lobbied in support the separation of church and state. He has been publicly critical of U.S. restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He is also a critic of 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. 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." He also briefly served, in 1960, as a Dominican priest. Ayala does not say whether he remains a religious believer, not wanting to be "tagged by one side or the other." 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. On October 18, 2011, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) announced that Ayala would be donating $10 million to the university's School of Biological Sciences. The gift was to be "$1 million a year for the next decade."

Sexual harassment investigation

Four women (professor Kathleen Treseder, another professor, an assistant dean, and one graduate student),Meredith Wadman
Prominent geneticist out at UC Irvine after harassment finding
''Science'' (June 29, 2018).
alleged that Ayala had sexually harassed them, prompting an investigation led by Erik Pelowitz at UC Irvine's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. The university investigators concluded that Ayala violated the university's policies on sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the cases of three of the four women, and found that the conduct at issue extended to 2004 and had led to previous warnings to Ayala. The investigators' report also concluded that Ayala "engaged in a campaign with the highest University officials to influence the outcome of this investigation." Ayala denied most allegations against him, and wrote to the university's chancellor, Howard Gillman, "I have never intentionally caused sexual harassment to anybody. To the extent that my actions may have caused harm to others ... I apologize from the deepest of my heart and of my mind." He resigned effective July 1, 2018. Ayala was represented in the investigation by attorney Susan Estrich. The investigation against Ayala extended to more than 60 witnesses, and the outcome divided scholars. Camilo José Cela Conde and Elizabeth Loftus defended him, the latter saying that she was "shocked that this man's life was ruined over this collection of reactions to his behavior" and described the allegations as "thin." In contrast, T. Jane Zelikova, the founder of 500 Women Scientists, supporting Ayala's ouster. Ann Olivarius, a lawyer and sexual harassment expert who reviewed the report at the request of ''Science'' magazine, said that the Ayala did not "have sex with students or pressure them directly for sex" but "clearly made multiple women feel degraded" and continued to do so "after senior university officials warned him to stop acting in these ways." Ayala returned to his private life, and the university removed his name from the School of Biological Sciences, the Science Library, and endowed chairs that had been named after Ayala. The American Association for the Advancement of Science removed his fellowship status.

Awards and honors

In 2001, Ayala was awarded the National Medal of Science. 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. The science library at UCI was named after him from 2010 until 2018, when his name was removed after a university investigation concluded that his conduct with respect to three women violated university policies. 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. UCI removed his name from the library and school in 2018, after finding that he sexually harassed at least four women. Ayala was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977. 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. They had two sons: Francisco José (b. 1969) and Carlos Alberto (b. 1972). Their marriage ended in divorce, and in 1985 he married an ecologist named Hana Ayala (née Lostáková, born 1956). They live in Irvine, California.


Ayala has published 950 publications and 30 books. Recently published books include: *Ayala, F.J. ''Evolution, Explanation, Ethics and Aesthetics: Towards a Philosophy of Biology''. Academic Press: 2016. *Ayala, F.J. ''Am I a Monkey: Six Big Questions About Evolution''. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD, USA 2010. *Ayala, F.J. and Robert Arp, eds. ''Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology''. Wiley-Blackwell: London, 2009. *Avise, J.C. and F.J. Ayala, eds. ''In the Light of Evolution: Adaptation and Complex Design''. National Academy Press: Washington, DC. 2007. *Cela Conde, C.J. and F.J. Ayala. ''Human Evolution. Trails from the Past''. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2007. *Ayala, F.J. Darwin y el Diseño Inteligente. ''Creacionismo, Cristianismo y Evolución''. Alianza Editorial: Madrid, Spain, 231 pp. 2007. *Ayala, F.J. ''Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion''. Joseph Henry Press: Washington, DC, xi + 237 pp. 2007 *Ayala, F.J. ''La Evolución de un Evolucionista. Escritos Seleccionados''. University of Valencia: Valencia, Spain, 441 pp. 2006. *Ayala, F.J. ''Darwin and Intelligent Design''. Fortress Press: Minneapolis, MN, xi + 116 pp. 2006. *Ayala, F.J. and C.J. Cela Conde. ''La piedra que se volvió palabra. Las claves evolutivas de la humanidad''. Alianza Editorial: Madrid, Spain. 184 pp. 2006 *Hey, J., W.M. Fitch and F.J. Ayala, eds. ''Systematics and the Origin of Species. On Ernst Mayr’s 100th Anniversary''. National Academies Press: Washington, DC. xiii + 367 pp. 2005 *Wuketits, F.M. and F.J. Ayala, eds. ''Handbook of Evolution: The Evolution of Living Systems (Including Hominids), Volume 2''. Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany. 292 pp. 2005. *Ayala, F.J. ''Le Ragioni dell’ Evoluzione''. Di Renzo Editore: Rome. 109 pp. 2005. *Ayala, F.J. ''Human Evolution: Biology, Culture, Ethics''. In: J.B. Miller, ed., The Epic of Evolution. Science and Religion in Dialogue (Pearson Education, Inc.: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey), pp. 166–180. 2004.

See also

*List of celebrities who own wineries and vineyards


External links

Francisco J. Ayala
at the University of California, Irvine
Francisco J. Ayala BiographyAyala FJ
Author Profile Page on Pubget {{DEFAULTSORT:Ayala, Francisco Jose Category:1934 births Category:Living people Category:People from Madrid Category:Human evolution theorists Category:Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences Category:Members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Category:Foreign Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences Category:Templeton Prize laureates Category:National Medal of Science laureates Category:Spanish biologists Category:University of California, Irvine faculty Category:Philosophers from California Category:Spanish philosophers Category:University of Salamanca alumni Category:People from Irvine, California Category:Charles Darwin biographers Category:Columbia University alumni Category:Spanish emigrants to the United States Category:Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Category:Former Dominicans Category:21st-century American biologists Category:Hispanic and Latino American scientists Category:Writers about religion and science