January 22, 1917–February 17, 1999
BY J. WOODLAND HASTINGS
WILLIAM DAVID MCELROY, a biologist who made ground-breaking discoveries in bioluminescence and was an administrator of great talent, died of respiratory failure at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, at the age of 82. He was an innovative and internationally prominent scientist and administrator, with a continuing agenda for experimental projects and research support for all areas of science, both basic and applied.
At the time of his death McElroy was a professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, having served as its chancellor from 1972 to 1980. He was on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins University, where from 1946 until 1969 he was the founding director of the McCollum-Pratt Institute, and from 1956 to 1969 the chairman of the biology department. He was a member of many professional scientific societies and served as president of several, including three of the largest: the American Society of Biological Chemists, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the 116,000-member American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served on the President’s Science Advisory Committee under both Kennedy and Johnson (1962-1966), was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1963, was director of the National Science Foundation under Nixon