Ross Crozier is gone


Ross Crozier last week at the Chicago Field Museum

I learned this morning that pioneering ant biologist Ross Crozier has passed away.  This is terrible news, and entirely unexpected.

Ross- a soft-spoken Australian- ushered social insects into the age of molecular biology.  He karyotyped hundreds of ant species.  He sequenced the honeybee mitochondrial genome.  He documented natural selection in ant immune genes.  He studied colony structure in termites, and speciation in ants.  There's almost nothing in social insect genetics that Ross didn't do first.

Ross's passing is quite a shock- he was in fine shape at the Chicago GAP meeting last weekend, and he sent me a short email not even two days ago.  This is going to take a while to sink in.

RIP Ross.  We'll miss you.

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I'm lost for words.

Ross will be sorely missed.

By Pete Yeeles (not verified) on 12 Nov 2009 #permalink

A seriously great loss. Thank you for posting Alex.

It's a very sad moment for the international scientific community. Ross Crozier, a pioneer and doyen in social insect genetics, is passed away. We all will miss this eminent scientist and very nice person.

Donato Grasso

President of the Italian Section IUSSI

By Donato A. Grasso (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

Well that is very sad. Ross Crozier was a pioneer in the genetics of haplodiploid mites too, as well as a fellow Australian who understood that mites are not entirely insignificant. Same week I lost a friend and Canada lost their best water beetle specialist, Rob Roughly, at the University of Manitoba. I'm feeling glum. Good thing it is Friday and there is wine.

I'm really sorry to hear this. Ross was not only a pioneering scientist, but a mentor to many junior researchers. He will be terribly missed by everyone who has ever met him.

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

I had the honor of working with Ross for a number of years as a postdoc. I will always remember Ross and the community of scientists in his lab with intense fondness. I think his greatest tribute is that he always, in my experience anyway, had such a great group around him, and everybody seemed to look back on their time in his lab with fondness. At the IUSSI meetings, the gathering of former Crozier lab people was huge!

Such a generous, intelligent, caring gentleman. I remember when two other labmates, who shall remain nameless, filled a soda bottle with dry ice, capped it, and put a trash can over it (for safety!). It exploded and made a god-awful noise. In characteristic fashion, Ross calmly walked out, explained that "maybe it would be a good idea not to do that again" and then calmly returned. I think he was quite upset about it too.

By Michael Henshaw (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

Ross was an amazing scientist, conducting cutting-edge research until the very end, an amazing adviser, and a spectacular human being. I have had the great honor of spending an (Australian) winter in his lab, where he was generous with his time, resources and advice. His ability to be up to date on his numerous students' projects was unparalleled, and something I can only aspire to emulate one day. He was also personally involved in the lives of his students, being generous with advice, specimens and comments long after they left his lab, and were no longer his responsibility in any way. We lost a great colleague, mentor and friend.

By Sasha Mikheyev (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

I am still in shock and very sad. I was a member of the Crozier Lab from 1996-2000, and despite being one of the few vertebrate students (fish, not ants) - of course Ross and Ching welcomed me with such warmth, intelligence and kindness!

Ross was very generous and someone I admire greatly - What an impressive career Ross had, an extraordinary and dedicated scientist - and what a great group of people he gathered from around the world to support and nurture.

I know I was very lucky to study beside amazing scientists who worked or visited the Crozier Lab at La Trobe or JCU.

And who can forget the opportunity to dance with Ross at a GSA conference? Reb Johnson I were reminiscing about that through the tears yesterday.

I send my thoughts to Ching, Michael and Ken, his treasured wife and sons.

By Cathy Oke (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

When I learned of Ross Crozier's passing, I was stunned and greatly saddened. Ross and I shared an office/lab at Cornell University for two years when we were doctoral candidates under the mentorship of renowned ant systematist, Bill Brown. Ross was serious and brilliant. We remained friends for over 40 years but most of our encounters occurred at IUSSI congresses and meetings, so the intervals between our conversations were sometimes as long as four years. My thoughts now are with Ching and her sons and I offer them my sympathies.

By Bill Gotwald (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

I hope the community does not mind if I provide details of the service to be held to commemorate Ross. Ross had so may friends and colleagues and we are trying to ensure all those that would want to know, do.

The funeral arrangements have just been organised as follows:

Friday November 20, 2:00pm

Morleys Funeral Home

2 Martinez Avenue

The Lakes

Townsville QLD 4810

Ph: +61 7 4779 4744

Fax: +61 7 4779 5480

Contact: Kevin Brake

Flowers etc could be sent either directly to Ching or to the Funeral Home.

And I believe her Email inbox is expanding at a phenomenal and comforting rate . . .

Happy to answer any questions,


By simon robson (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

What a terrible shock. Ross and I were colleagues at La Trobe for many years, sharing a fascination with genome evolution and sex in animals, little (Ross) and big (me). More recently Iâve enjoyed interacting with him as a keen-eyed member of the Council of the Australian Academy of Science. Iâll greatly miss his wry wit and intensely logical approach to solving problems, not only in ant evolution, but in all science affairs. Heartfelt sympathy to you Ching, as you look back on your wonderfully exciting and productive partnership.

Ross was a good friend - I first met him when he was teaching at the University of Georgia and I was a post-doc at the University of British Columbia - in 1970! We remained good colleagues throughout his years at UNSW, LaTrobe and JCU. As recently as 18 months ago he wrote me an 'overview' piece for AustJEnt on recent controversies on the role of haplodoiploidy in the evolution of the social Hymenoptera - the most downloaded pdf for the year for that journal! Ross's mild manner yet incisive mind will be sorely missed - indeed will be truly irreplaceable.

Vale Ross!

Roger Kitching

Professor, Griffith Unviersity

By Roger Kitching (not verified) on 13 Nov 2009 #permalink

Ross was a great mentor. I worked as a postdoc under Ross while he was at La Trobe University and James Cook University. I was incredibly sad to hear the news. It feels like a huge vacuum just opened up. He will be missed tremendously.

-Mike Goodisman

School of Biology

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA 30332-0230

United States

I think I was Rossâs very first PhD student (supervised solely by Ross). Ross provided such a great environment for others around him to flourish, myself included. Providing everything (a constant stream of among the best in the world visiting, facilitating and never telling me what to research but just periodically making take-it-or-leave-it suggestions), Ross showed me that to do very good research was easy. Rossâs jokes provided a suitably light background. I repeat, Ross provided such a great environment for people around him to flourish. Like Dr. Gotwald, my thoughts and sympathies are now with Ching. Ross will be sorely missed.

Mike Crosland


Ross supervised my PhD from 1981-4 at the University of Queensland. He told me later that I was his first 'molecular' student. He provided a challenging and stimulating environment and was unfailingly supportive, both during my studies and after. I owe him a huge debt for giving me the tools and experience that has been the foundation of my career in scientific research. My love and sympathy to Ching and their boys.

Jenny Ovenden


By Jenny Ovenden (not verified) on 15 Nov 2009 #permalink

I'll second Bill Gotwald's comment. I was Dave Pimentel's student at the time at Cornell, just down the hall, and was always very impressed with Ross. I was always listening intently to him, hoping to pick up some notion that could be generalized from Hymenops to Leps. Even if I rarely found one, listening to him was always an exercise in rigorous scientific logic. Like another Aussie friend (well, nominally Australian, but really Danish), Ebbe Schmidt-Nielsen, his passing came out of the blue.

By Art Shapiro (not verified) on 17 Nov 2009 #permalink

It was with much grief and deep sadness that I learnt that Ross had suddenly passed away. I was a postdoc in his lab from 1999-2001 At LaTrobe and James Cook University, and will never forget his keen intelligence and his stimulating lab meetings and journal clubs. He was a great scientist, an inspiring mentor, and a fine human. Someone to whom the qualifier honourable applied.

His passing away is a great loss and a shock.

Else Fjerdingstad

Queens College, CUNY

By Else Fjerdingstad (not verified) on 19 Nov 2009 #permalink

I am glad someone mentioned the dancing! Ross on the dance floor at GSA meetings. I am grinning now!

By Alex Wilson (not verified) on 20 Nov 2009 #permalink

To me he is not only a good guide but also a god for my research.

we had a paper on progress.

he asked me to come on this january to work more elaborately with him but this time i missed a valuable chance to meet him.

I will miss him a lot.





By Kunal Sinha (not verified) on 05 Jan 2010 #permalink