William D. McElroy

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William David McElroy
William David McElroy.jpg
Fifth Chancellor of the
University of California, San Diego
In office
Personal details
Born (1917-01-22)22 January 1917
Rogers, Texas, USA
Died 22 February 1999(1999-02-22) (aged 82)
San Diego, California, USA
Spouse(s) Nella Amelia Winch (m.1940)
Marlene Anderegg DeLuca (1967-1987†)
Olga Robles (1997=1999)
Alma mater Pasadena Junior College
Stanford University
Reed College
Princeton University
Profession Biochemistry
Institutions Johns Hopkins University
Office of Naval Research
National Institute of Health
National Science Foundation
University of California, San Diego

William David McElroy (22 January 1917 – 17 February 1999) was an American biochemist and academic administrator.


Early years[edit]

McElroy was born to William D. McElroy and Ora Shipley in Rogers, Texas. After graduating from McAllen High School in McAllen, Texas in 1935, he attended Pasadena Junior College in California, and went on to Stanford University on a football scholarship where he received his bachelor's degree in 1937. He earned his master's degree in biology at Reed College and his PhD at Princeton University in 1943.


After college, McElroy became a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He initiated an independent research program in bioluminescence, recruiting students to collect fireflies to perform experiments. He discovered the key role that luciferase and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) play in the process.

He began working with the Office of Naval Research and the National Institute of Health in the 1950s, and became a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. He later became the director of the National Science Foundation from 1969 to 1972. He also served as the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1975 to 1976. He became chancellor of the University of California, San Diego from 1972 to 1980.

He was awarded the Howard N. Potts Medal in 1971.

In 1981, McElroy became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.[1]

Personal life[edit]

McElroy married three times. He was first married to Nella Amelia Winch in 1940 with whom he had four children; Ann, Mary, Thomas and William, Jr. His second marriage was in 1967 to biochemist Marlene Anderegg DeLuca. Their one child is Eric Gene. After being widowed in 1987, he remarried again in 1997 to Olga Robles who survived him.


McElroy Ridge in the Victory Mountains of Victoria Land, Antarctica was named after McElroy by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names. [2]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Leland J. Haworth
Director of the National Science Foundation
July 1969 - January 1972
Succeeded by
Guyford Stever
Academic offices
Preceded by
Herbert York
Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego
Succeeded by
Richard C. Atkinson