News Local/State

U of I Holds Public Memorial for Professor Woese


The public will have a chance to pay final respects to University of Illinois microbiologist Carl Woese on Saturday.

He passed away December 30th at the age of 84.  His career at the U of I spanned more than four decades. 

Guest speakers at a public memorial on the Urbana campus Saturday afternoon include President Robert Easter, and Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

Easter took time to honor Woese’s contributions during Thursday’s U of I Board of Trustees meeting. 

He says the Syracuse, New York native changed the world, or in some sense, his understanding of it.

"Carl was writing a textbook about the genetic code in the late 1960's," Easter said.  "And his findings were not well embraced, in fact they were not.  And initially he was a subject of derision and criticism.  But thanks to the principal of academic freedom protected scrupulously by our university and others around the world, Carl was allowed to continue to question, and to serve for the very origins of life."

Woese discovered a third domain of life known as archaea   Two papers he published in 1977 outlined how those microbes were as distinct from bacteria as plants and animals are.

Following the list of guest speakers, the public will be allowed to weigh in with their memories of Woese. 

The memorial service is on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center at 3 p.m. Saturday.