Hayes was a scientist emeritus at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and retired director of its National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility.
“John was the leading pioneer of molecular-isotopic biogeochemistry and has been a great inspiration for so many younger scientists, including me. His passing will leave a huge gap in the geochemistry community. I will miss John very much - as scientific mentor and friend. I am very grateful for his guidance, generosity and warm friendship, and for sharing his unique approach to science,” said Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, MARUM, University of Bremen, and co-chair of DCO’s Deep Life Community.
Hayes received a B.S. from Iowa State University in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966. He was a professor at Indiana University for 26 years, and then served as director of the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility for 20 years from 1996 until 2006. Hayes also taught at Harvard University and was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
The cycling of carbon in modern and ancient environments and its relation to the development of the global environment was a primary focus of his research. He also investigated molecular aspects of biogeochemistry and microbial geochemistry, specifically on the distributions of the stable isotopes of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur between and within organic and inorganic compounds in sediments and in organisms, and was expert in techniques of isotope analysis.
Hayes was a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, American Geophysical Union, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Society. He was honored as an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and as an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His work was recognized with many scientific awards and he shared his knowledge as author of two textbooks, four book chapters, and 203 scientific papers.
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Photo credit: Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution