The legend of Stanley Falkow (1934-2018), a humble giant among microbes and humans


Stanley Falkow passed away peacefully on May 4, 2018. I had the privilege of spending 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Stanley at the peak of his scientific prowess, at the peak of his love for microbes. Stanley’s obituary in the New York Times captures well the dimensions of the extraordinary human being and scientist Stanley Falkow was. Among his array of qualities, one that is probably less apparent from the obituary, is that Stanley was naturally a fun-loving, fun seeking, fun generating presence. It did not take long in any situation with Stanley for laughter to emerge. Scientific creativity and productivity went hand-in-hand with warm, unrestrained, creative humor. Indeed, when any of the 100 or so trainees who went through Stanley’s lab now meet, they are invariably reminiscing of this or that anecdote, ranging from the “it may be #$$#! to you but it’s my bread and butter” variety to his more recent “Just Do The F# Experiment!” official signature.

On May 4 2018, the whole microbial world was orphaned, not only the two-legged eukaryotes who love to study microbes like Stanley did, but also Stanley’s best friends, the microbes themselves.


Patrik Bavoil, PhD FF DTFE

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