Allan Wilson was a biochemist who applied innovative methods and revolutionary theories of molecular biology to the study of evolutionary development.
Through an examination of the biochemical properties of contemporary organisms, his work reconstructed the evolutionary histories of man and other organisms. Application of his method to the problem of the descent of man allowed Wilson and his collaborators to settle long-contested disputes regarding the evolutionary relations among anthropoid apes. He pioneered new techniques and clarified understanding of the evolutionary process by his comparative studies of the rates of molecular, chromosomal, and morphological evolution.
Wilson served as a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, after joining the faculty in 1964 as an assistant professor. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1983 and to the Royal Society of London in 1986. He served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, including Genetics, Evolution, Genomics, and the New Biologist.
Wilson received a B.Sc. (1955) from the University of Otago, an M.S. (1957) from Washington State University, and a Ph.D. (1961) from the University of California, Berkeley.