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September 23, 2004


John “Juan” Oro, University of Houston Professor Emeritus of Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences, died recently in Spain.

Oro taught at UH for 39 years, from 1955 until his retirement in 1994. During that time, he had a tremendous impact on UH through both his research and teaching. In April 1986, he was the eighth recipient of the Esther Farfel Award, the university’s highest faculty honor. In 1998, UH awarded him an honorary degree. He is considered to be the “founding father” of the Department of Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences.

In the 1960s, he conducted some of the earliest experiments investigating the origins of life on earth and the composition of the cosmos, which established him as a world leader in these fields. Oro received some of the first lunar samples that were released by NASA for analysis. During the 1970s, he helped design experiments and built equipment used during the Viking mission to investigate the existence of life on Mars.

Born in Lérida, Spain, on Oct. 26, 1923, Oro studied and received a Licenciate in Chemical Sciences from the University of Barcelona in 1947. He completed his Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in the mid-1950s.

Noelle Heinze
Contributing writer