May 22, 2011 2:45 p.m.
Memorial service May 26 for molecular genetics pioneer Walter Fitch
Longtime UCI professor Walter Monroe Fitch, founder of molecular phylogenetics, will be honored by colleagues and friends at a memorial service from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences & Engineering. “Walter was an intellectual giant,” said Brandon Gaut, chair of the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. “He meant a great deal to countless people on our campus and beyond.” Fitch, 81, who died March 10 in Irvine, was also remembered in a Sciencemagazine essay by friend and fellow geneticist William Atchley of North Carolina State University: “Walter’s methodological and theoretical achievements about estimating evolutionary relationships among species drove the maturation of the field. He was a great source of intellectual stimulation to his colleagues, a wonderful mentor to younger scientists and a great friend to many. He will be sorely missed.” At the time of his death, Fitch – who strongly supported the widespread teaching of evolution – was just finishing a book on the creationism-evolution controversy.