Obituary: Stanley Sawyer, professor emeritus in Arts & Sciences, 77

Stanley Sawyer photo
Sawyer

Stanley Arthur Sawyer, professor emeritus of mathematics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. He was 77.

Born in Juneau, Alaska, Sawyer earned a bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of Technology, followed by his PhD there in 1964. He previously taught at the Courant Institute, Brown, Yeshiva and Purdue universities and University of Washington. In 1984, he became a professor at Washington University, where he taught for about 30 years. He also was a professor of genetics and of biostatistics at the School of Medicine. Sawyer retired and became professor emeritus in 2013.

A distinguished mathematician and statistician, he authored 80 scholarly articles and one book, “A TEX Primer for Scientists,” and mentored 12 postgraduate students. He was widely known for the development of GENECONV, a computer program designed to analyze DNA and identify gene conversions that indicate mutation and evolution. He often served as an expert witness in trials to evaluate DNA evidence.

“He was a polymath and a gentle man,” said John E. McCarthy, Sawyer’s friend and colleague and chair of the Department of Mathematics. “We will miss him.”

Sawyer was not married and had no children. A campus memorial service will be planned in the fall.

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