In Memoriam of Harold Morowitz


Harold Morowitz  (December 4, 1927-March 22, 2016)

Biophysicist Harold Morowitz became a Robinson Professor after a long career of teaching and research at Yale University as Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and served for five years as Master of Pierson College. The author of several books, Morowitz has written extensively on the thermodynamics of living systems, as well as on popular topics in science. Included in those publications are Mayonnaise and the Origins of Life, Cosmic Joy and Local Pain, The Thermodynamics of PizzaEntropy and the Magic Flute, and The Kindly Dr. Guillotin. Morowitz investigated the interface of biology and information sciences and explorated of the origins of life. His other books are The Origin of Cellular Life: Metabolism Recapitulates Biogenesis and The Facts of Life (co-authored with James Trefil). He was Staff Scientist and former Director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Complexity. His book The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex was published in 2002 by Oxford University Press. Dr. Morowitz was principal investigator on the multi-institutional grant “From Geochemistry to the Origin of Life,” which was centered at the Santa Fe Institute and includes George Mason University and four other research centers.


Harold passed away Tuesday evening after a brief illness. Before becoming the former Director of the Krasnow Institue he was a member of the Department of Biology and the old CAS. He was my inspiration for coming to George Mason University to help develop models of biological knowledge that he called the Biomatrix.  We now called this approach Systems Biology.  He was a longtime mentor,  colleague and friend.  We will miss him greatly.  Dr. Patrick Gillevet

We have lost a great friend of this institution.  One who had a major role in the enhancement of sciences at GMU, especially in the arena of the molecular bio-sciences and bioinformatics.   I will miss him as well as a dear friend and long term colleague.  He served as chair of the National Academy of Science’s study and report, “Models in Biomedical Research; A New Perspective”‘ that initiated NIH’s focus and support of research in bioinformatics.  His perspective on science was inclusive and his enthusiasm contagious.  Wish he was still here.   Dr. James Willett


Memorial from George Mason University

Memorial from the Santa Fe Institute

Memorial from Yale University

Memorial from New York Times 

Origin of Life Lecture at Santa Fe (2013)