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A Conversation with Hana and Francisco J. Ayala

23 March 2006


AAAS Auditorium Washington, DC

A Harmonious Commitment to Science and Culture


This salon-style event presents the story of two lives committed to one another, dedicated to protecting world populations and the environment in different ways. Hana Ayala is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Pangea World, an economic development model that blends tourism with conservation and research.


Francisco J. Ayala is University Professor at the University of California, Irvine, whose work has revolutionized evolution theory, led to new ways to prevent and treat diseases, and shed light on issues concerning society, ethics, and religion.

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Introductory Remarks
Alan I. Leshner, AAAS chief executive officer and publisher of the journal, Science

Interview with the Ayalas

Question and Answer Session


Read about the event here.
To see related AAAS coverage of the Ayalas, click here.


Francisco J. Ayala

Francisco J. Ayala is University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, professor of philosophy, and professor of logic and the philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine, where he specializes in evolutionary genetics — using DNA to track the path and flow of evolution. Born in Madrid, Spain, he has lived in the United States since 1961 and became a U.S. citizen in 1971.

Known for his research on population and evolution genetics, Dr. Ayala has made singular contributions not only to his discipline but also to education, philosophy, ethics, religion, and national science policy. He revolutionized evolution theory by pioneering molecular biology in the investigation of evolutionary processes, leading to a new understanding of the origin of species, the pervasiveness of genetic diversity, the genetic structure of populations, and rates of evolution. His biological discoveries have opened up new approaches to the prevention and treatment of diseases, including malaria, that affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Dr. Ayala has served on the governing council of the National Academy of Sciences and as president and chair of AAAS. He was a chief witness in the creationist trials in Arkansas in 1981 that prevented religion from being taught as science in the classroom, and has co-authored seminal papers on the role of expert witnesses in the judiciary. His philosophical writings range from the scientific method to the biological foundations of ethics and include the interface between religion and science.

Among his many honors are the 2001 National Medal of Science and Sigma Xi’s William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement. Author of more than 800 articles and 15 books, Dr. Ayala has been called the “Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology” by The New York Times.

Hana Ayala

Dr. Hana Ayala is the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Pangea World. Its principal goal is to enrich and blend two major sectors of the world’s economy — hospitality and science — by bringing them into a mutually reinforcing relationship that yields formidable benefits for both. A landscape and social ecologist and former professor at the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Ayala created a model for development that is both financially lucrative and ecologically sensitive for resource-rich countries.

TCR, Tourism for Conservation through Research, intertwines the growth of tourism and the hotel industry with science and the conservation of natural and cultural resources to create a strategic partnership with the capability of driving sustainable development efforts. Most recently, she has translated the TCR model into national blueprints for Fiji and the Republic of Panama.

Dr. Ayala has organized and coordinated a number of international conferences, symposia, and forums on topics ranging from heritage tourism and ecodevelopment to information resources for global sustainability. A series of TCR-focused events have been hosted in Washington, D.C., by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Smithsonian Institution, the Panamanian Embassy, the journal Science, and the World Bank. A native of Brno, Dr. Ayala was honored in 2003 by Masaryk University, a pivotal center of culture and education in the Czech Republic, by its Gold Medal — an award bestowed “in recognition and appreciation of extraordinary merits in advancing science, culture, and art.”

Her work has been endorsed by prominent international agencies and has been featured in the news and popular media, including Science, Scientific American, Architecture, Condé Nast Traveler, Hotels, Salon magazine, Hospitality Research Journal, Annals of Tourism Research, Environmental Management, Insula: The International Journal of Island Affairs, and Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress.