January 22, 2020

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to share the sad news of Professor Emeritus Ian Ross’s passing on November 29.

Professor Ross joined our faculty in 1964 in the Department of Biology and subsequently the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, where he pursued his passion for research in mycology. We are humbled by his long legacy on our campus and his academic accomplishments, which will live on in the scientific community.

Ian was born in London, England. After living in Scotland during World War II, he moved in 1945 to the United States. He received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and afterwards moved to Canada to earn his Ph.D. from McGill University in Montreal. This is also where he met his wife of 63 years, Muriel. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin, then became a faculty member in the Department of Botany at Yale before moving to UC Santa Barbara.

Dr. Ross was an internationally recognized mycologist, working on the physiology and genetics of slime mold development, the molecular biology of developmental regulation in filamentous fungi, and the role of mitochondria in aging in fungi. His 1979 text, Biology of the Fungi, was highly influential in the field. His 1995 book, Aging of Cells, Humans, and Societies, reflected his interest in research on the underlying causes of the aging processes in all organisms. Professor Ross served on the editorial boards of several journals and was a reviewer for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other agencies. He received the Mycological Society of America Weston Award for Teaching Excellence in 1987 and the Mycological Society of America Distinguished Mycologist Award in 1999. He was a BP Venture Research Fellow from 1987 to 1991.

Professor Ross is remembered by our colleagues as both a distinguished researcher and a strong advocate for students. He was tremendously dedicated to involving undergraduate students in research, and in 2001 was recognized with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring. Professor Stephen Poole in our Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology recalls, “He was a fabulous colleague, always interested in others’ research as well as his own, and continued to be a presence in the department even after his retirement in 2001.”

On our campus, as well as in the community, Professor Ross will be missed for his life-long love of learning. He inspired us all to stay curious about the world. We are grateful to have had him as a part of our research community and as a mentor to our students, and will be frequently reminded of him through his foundational work.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Ian’s beloved wife, Muriel, and family. Our campus flag was lowered on January 8 in his honor.


Henry T. Yang