Leigh Van Valen, 1935-2010

By Razib Khan | October 17, 2010 8:25 pm

John Hawks is reporting that Leigh Van Valen passed away this weekend. I had the pleasure and honor of Leigh Van Valen being an occasional reader of my musings. He would leave comments as “leigh.” Here’s one which he left in February 2008:

Goldschmidt did a great deal more than hopeless monsters. I was with Dobzhansky when he heard of Goldschmidt’s death. I’ve preserved his comment: “A great geneticist has just died.”

Van Valen was the originator of the Red Queen’s Hypothesis.

MORE ABOUT: Leigh Van Valen

Comments (4)

  1. I only knew Leigh for the brief time I was at UChicago, but he was such an influence in so many ways, it was hard not to find him compelling to meet. He and I had lunch together once, and I asked him question after question about whales and Tolkien-based nomenclature, while he ate a big block of cheddar. He was so inviting, even though it was clear he is far far smarter than i will ever be. It is sad to hear of his passing, few minds of his sort have and ever will exist. We were all lucky to have him for as long as we did.

  2. Katrina

    Thanks for the kind words.


    (Leigh’s Daughter)

  3. erpiu

    leigh’s greatest achievement is what he called “the 3rd law of natural selection” (1976; van valen meant evolution by natural selection when writing “natural selection”), an unsuccessful but brilliant and valiant attempt to overcome the mindless story-telling that characterizes the modern “natural selection” casuistry industry.

    search for “van valen” in the link below, second posting by erpiu. http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/dick-lewontin-reviews-what-darwin-got-wrong.

    PS. i heard from several uofc graduate students at a conference that over the last few decade leigh was harassed systematically by his former ecoevo chair, c-i.wu. this creep wanted to take away leigh’s lab space to install a paper churner who would bring fed.grant money to the uofc’s parasitic bureaucrats. the harassment included hiding leigh’s excellent teaching evaluations to deny him any defense arguments. i also heard that leigh lost his space after the creep resigned due to a scandal involving fraud by a top clerical officer. sounds like disneyland !? 😉

    i also was told that leigh’s papers have been claimed by the american association for the history of science [or something like that], and that the association offered to make paper shredders available when his colleagues retire.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar