December 4, 2008

Biology expert Ralph Lewin dies

Professor Ralph Lewin, known as the father of green algae genetics, died in his sleep Sunday at his California home from esophageal cancer.

Lewin, 87, a scientist, poetry author and professor, spent nearly 48 years at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego and was considered a leading authority in multiple areas of marine biology, Scripps said in a statement Thursday.

Lewin joined the Scripps institution as an associate professor of marine biology in 1960 and retired from that position as a full professor in 1991, remaining extremely active in laboratory and field research and lecturing nationally and internationally. He helped organize and teach courses on marine microbiology and algae for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Finland, Singapore and China, Scripps said.

He published more than 250 scientific papers, and was also known for his poetry.

Lewin is survived by his wife, Lanna Cheng, a Scripps marine entomologist, and a brother, Basil, of England. No services were planned.