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Wyatt Anderson, 1939-2023

Alan Flurry

Former dean of the Franklin College Wyatt Anderson passed away on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023 at Presbyterian Village Athens. Anderson was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, a dedicated scientist, administrator, and great friend of the Franklin College and the University of Georgia.

Anderson had a distinguished career and a lasting impact on UGA and in the field of evolutionary biology/genetics. Renowned for his groundbreaking research on the evolutionary genetics of Drosophila, Anderson challenged existing paradigms and expanded our understanding of natural selection.

Son of a fisheries biologist, Anderson and his family lived in Sarasota, FL and Galveston, TX before moving to Brunswick, GA where he attended Glynn Academy. He then went to the University of Georgia where he earned his B.S. Cum Laude and M.S. in Zoology.

Anderson and Margaret Ann Shugart were married in July 1962 and moved to New York City where he was invited to attend graduate school at the Rockefeller Institute – now Rockefeller University. There he was a student of Theodosius Dobzhansky, a major figure in evolutionary genetics.

Anderson accepted a position as a faculty member at Yale University in 1966, a year before completing his Ph.D. After he was awarded his degree, he took leave from Yale and spent two years as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corp after which he returned to his faculty position at Yale. In 1972, he was one of a group of scientists from Yale who moved to Athens to establish a Genetics Program at the University of Georgia with scientists in different departments. In 1980, the Genetics Department was formed, with Anderson as the first department head.

Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor of Genetics, Anderson served as Dean of the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences for 12 years, where his tenure was marked by visionary leadership and academic excellence across all the disciplines in the College. Even with the administrative duties of UGA's largest college, he continued his research and published more than 130 papers. A scientist with deep dedication to the arts, the Anderson's established the Wyatt and Margaret Anderson Professorship in the Arts.

Elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Wyatt Anderson also belonged to and had leadership roles in the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Genetic Association, and the American Society of Naturalists. He served on journal editorial boards and was Associate Editor of the Annual Review of Genetics. 

"Wyatt Anderson had many talents and interests," said Hugh Ruppersburg, Emeritus University Professor of English and former Senior Associate Dean of the Franklin College. "He was modest, generous, and highly intelligent. A distinguished scientist, he was devoted to the arts and sought to provide the resources those departments needed. The faculty he helped to hire significantly raised the profile of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He gave valuable service to the College and the University as a whole. I am deeply grateful for his friendship and guidance during my time at the University."

A celebration of Wyatt Anderson’s life will be held at the Village at Presbyterian Village, Athens Georgia, from 2 pm to 4 pm ET on Saturday, December 9, 2023.

In remembrance of Anderson’s passion for education, research, and the community, the family suggests contributions in lieu of flowers to either the Genetics Alumni Graduate Support Fund or the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. Contributions may be made to the University of Georgia’s Genetics Alumni Graduate Support Fund in memory of Dr. Wyatt Anderson online or by check to the "UGA Foundation" with Genetics Alumni Graduate Support Fund in the memo line and mailed to the UGA Foundation, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.


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