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Guillermo Gonzalez

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Guillermo Gonzalez received a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington in 1993. He then completed his postdoctoral work at the University of Texas and the University of Washington. Dr. Gonzalez is currently an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University.

He received numerous fellowships, grants and awards from institutions such as NASA, the University of Washington, the Templeton Foundation, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation. Gonzalez has also published 68 articles in refereed science journals including The Astrophysical Journal, The Astronomical Journal, and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

He has done extensive work with ground-based observatories, including work at McDonald Observatory, Apache Point Observatory and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, and is considered a world-class expert on the astrophysical requirements for habitability. He is a co-founder of the "Galactic Habitable Zone" concept that was featured the October 2001 cover story of Scientific American. His research in this field led to the publication of the The Privileged Planet in 2004, which he co-authored with Jay Richards.[1]

Discrimination by Iowa State

Discrimination of Guillermo Gonzalez by various faculty members at Iowa State University for his views on intelligent design began shortly after the release of The Privileged Planet. In 2004, ISU religious studies professor Hector Avalos organized a campus forum to attack The Privileged Planet. Avalos is an outspoken atheist and the faculty advisor to the campus Atheist and Agnostic Society. In 2005, Avalos then petitioned the ISU faculty to “reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.” This petition was clearly targeted against Gonzalez shortly before he was scheduled to come up for tenure, which Avalos later conceded to a local newspaper.[2] Another ISU faculty member, John Patterson, campaigned against outside the university by sending a letter to the Ames Tribune accusing him of plotting to establish a theocracy.[3]

The discrimination by ISU faculty was reported by the Discovery Institute as early as December 2005 during a briefing for the media on academic freedom at the National Press Club[4]. The following quote is from the transcript of Dr. Gonzalez's statement from the Discovery Institute's 2005 briefing.[5]

What did I do to evoke these attacks on my career? Jay Richards and I wrote a book entitled The Privileged Planet, in which we build a case for design in the cosmos from scientific evidence, not by appeals to Scripture or some private mystical experience. Our argument is also testable. While the notion of a cosmic creator isn’t falsifiable, our particular design argument is, subject to the river of data about extrasolar planets, galaxies, and the larger universe now flowing in from scientific research. But I've never taught this design argument in the classroom, because it's too new for undergraduate astronomy students.

The campaign against Dr. Gonzalez ultimately resulted in ISU President Gregory Geoffroy denying Dr. Gonzalez’s application for tenure. Two Iowa State faculty member have publicly admitted that his work on intelligent design played a role in the department’s denial of tenure. [6]

According to ISU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, "[f]or promotion to associate professor, excellence sufficient to lead to a national or international reputation is required and would ordinarily be shown by the publication of approximately fifteen papers of good quality in refereed journals". To date, Gonzalez has 68 refereed scientific papers, which exceeds his ISU’s standard for “excellence” in research by more than 350%.[7]

Gonzales released a statement to the media regarding his denial [8], and subsequently appealed the decision. His first appeal was summarily rejected by Geoffroy on May 31, 2007, which was followed by a released statement claiming that "he simply did not show the trajectory of excellence that we expect in a candidate seeking tenure in physics and astronomy"[9]. Gonzales then filed notice with the ISU President's office on June 19 that he would make a further appeal to the Board of Regents. If his denial of tenure is not overturned, his position will terminate at the end of the 2007-08 academic year. [10]




  • G. Gonzalez, “Habitable Zones in the Universe,” Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, 35, 555 (2005).
  • G. Gonzalez, D. Brownlee, and P. Ward, "The Galactic Habitable Zone: Galactic Chemical Evolution," Icarus, 152, 185 (2001).
  • G. Gonzalez, "Is the Sun Anomalous?," Astronomy & Geophysics, October, 40, Issue 5, 5.25 (1999).
  • G. Gonzalez, "Are Stars with Planets Anomalous?," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 308, 447 (1999).
  • A. D. Vanture and G. Gonzalez, "Stellar Evolution in Fast Forward," Astronomy & Geophysics, February, 40, Issue 1, 1.14 (1999).


ISU Persecution