Obituary Notice: Leading Marine Biologist: Francis Haxo


Francis Theodore Haxo, a professor emeritus of marine biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, died peacefully on June 10, 2010, surrounded by his family.

A native of North Dakota and graduate of the University of North Dakota, Haxo attended graduate school at Stanford University, where he became interested in photobiology and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1947. During World War II he worked on developing sunscreens to protect military personnel from ultra-violet rays in tropical theaters of war.

While in a postdoctoral appointment in L. R. Blinks' laboratory at Hopkins Marine Station, he made his best known scientific breakthroughs: the Haxo-Blinks oxygen electrode, a measuring device that is widely used, and the discovery of chromatic transients from which the critical concept arose of two differing methods for plants to photosynthesize. His first faculty appointment was in plant physiology at Johns Hopkins University, where he discovered a new carotenoid that became important as a colorant in the food industry.

In 1952, Haxo joined the faculty of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he pursued research on photosynthesis, plant pigments and the physiology of algae.

He is remembered by his students as a patient, generous, meticulous and gentlemanly scientist. Haxo is survived by his wife, Judith Haxo; his children, John, Philip, Theodore and Aileen Haxo, and Barbara Phillips; eight grandchildren and his sister, Ruth Schmoll, of Houston, Texas. The family suggests that gifts to honor Haxo be made to support research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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