Obituary - Andy Cameron
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Obituary - Andy Cameron

It's with regret we let you know of Robert Andrew “Andy” Cameron’s passing on November 19, 2022, at the age of 79.

Andy was a proud alum of the Californian higher education system moving from California State University to the University of California System and onto Caltech where he spent 30 years of his career. Andy got his BA from  San Jose State University, California in Zoology in 1968  and Ph.D. from  University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1975. His first faculty appointment was as an Assistant Professor of Marine Science at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, 1981-1985. While in Puerto Rico he spent a sabbatical at Eric Davidison’s lab at the California Institute of Technology and was so impacted by the work that he saw there that he decided to move his lab permanently to Caltech in 1985 where we was Senior Research Fellow and  then Senior Research Associate, before moving to an Emeritus status in 2015.

Andy had a career-long fascination with marine larval development and metamorphosis. His early work investigated the induction of metamorphosis, lineage tracing and anatomy of embryos and larvae of echinoderms. He became an expert in the culturing, handling, microinjection and the molecular interrogation of many species of echinoderm and was frequently sought out for advice from researchers establishing new systems. Andy shared his enthusiasm for working with marine invertebrates through many outreach and speaking engagements. He was also the Editor in Chief and longtime Editor of the Marine Biology Laboratory’s, Biological Bulletin: A journal he cared for deeply and saw as an important publication of foundational work in marine invertebrates.

Many members of our community know Andy best for his role in establishing and running Echinobase. Andy played a pivotal role in the sequencing of the genome of the purple urchin and immediately saw the importance of developing a community resource to share the data generated by the genome sequencing consortium. He thus established Spbase - the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus repository for all genomic data from the purple urchin. He expanded this database to Echinobase when other species of echinoderms were also included. This work was his passion for more than 15 years as he grew the utility of the database and the community of people around it. As with the other aspects of his research he also spent considerable time traveling and helping researchers also wanting to develop such resources for other species. 

While deeply passionate about his work, Andy also had many hobbies. He was an avid musician and enthusiast of old-time music. He played the guitar and banjo-uke and almost anything with strings, with his band the “String Bean Serenaders”, among others. He frequently hosted events for musicians at his home and attended music festivals. It was through his love of music that he met his beloved wife Barbara. Andy was also a long time member of the American Orchid Society where he contributed research articles to their newsletter and was an amateur grower and hrybridizer of orchids. His retirement to Monterrey was an opportunity to develop both of these passions further while also maintaining outreach work in science research to the local community.

In a last correspondence with Andy he wondered if Echinobase could play a role in connecting large scale genomics investigators with smaller labs that could perform the analysis of individual genes and further our understanding of Gene Regulatory Networks. He was, to the end, deeply engaged with Echinobase and echinoderm researchers and wanted to see the best for our scientific community.  

Andy will be remembered for his larger than life personality, great enthusiasm and love for his broad scientific community.

Last Updated: 2023-03-09