David Kirk passed away Wednesday night.
It is hard to overstate his importance to the field of Volvox research. In addition to his key role in turning Volvox into a model system, Dr. Kirk trained many of the scientists who are studying Volvox today. As I said previously,
Dr. Kirk and members of his lab were largely responsible for establishing Volvox as a model system for the evolution of multicellularity. He carried out much of the developmental genetics that forms the foundation of our field, including foundational work on Volvox cell type determination, inversion, extracellular matrix, cytoplasmic bridges, sex induction, and phylogenetic relationships. He literally wrote the book on Volvox evo-devo, and many (perhaps most) of the PIs currently studying Volvox spent time in his lab as students and postdocs.
I didn’t know him well, having only met him a couple of times. I do know that he sent me a kind and thoughtful email when I, as an upstart grad student, published some criticism of his now classic “12-step” paper. I’m sure someone who knew him better will write an obituary, and I’ll post about it when I see it.