College mourns passing of Prof. Boyer

Publication Date

John F. Boyer, professor emeritus of biology whose wide interests ranged to typography, art and music, died Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.

Prof. Boyer came to Union in 1973, the same year that his wife, Barbara, joined the department. The couple, who were married in 1968, retired together in 2010 as full professors.

A population and evolutionary biologist, his research covered evolution in age-structured populations, genetic models of co-evolution, evolution of mating behavior polymorphisms and computer simulation of population dynamics. He taught courses in genetics and evolution, evolutionary biology, population biology and first-year preceptorial.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He did postdoctoral research at the University of Iowa. While at Union, he did sabbatical research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

He was published in a number of journals including Journal of Theoretical Biology, Evolution, Journal of Animal Ecology, Physiological Zoology and Biological Bulletin. He was a member of professional societies including the Society for the Study of Evolution, American Society of Naturalists, Ecological Society of America, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, European Society of Evolutionary Biology and Sigma Xi.

Active in College service, he was department co-chair, a long-time member of the Academic Computing Steering Committee, and served on numerous tenure and reappointment committees. He co-authored a successful grant proposal to the Merck Company Foundation for support of student research to encourage graduate education in biology and chemistry.

He had a number of non-scientific interests which caused some to call him “a Renaissance man,” his wife said. He had a passion for cartography and typography. He was a member of the American Printing History Association. He loved many forms of art and music, which filled the Boyer home.

Survivors also include the Boyers’ two children, Cynthia and Paul; and two grandchildren, Elliott and Catherine.

A celebration of his life is planned for the spring.