Mike was an esteemed member of the Board of Directors of the Gruter Institute for Law & Behavioral Research for two decades and a friend to four generations of the Gruter family.
Mike’s contributions to his family, to science, and to his friends and colleagues at the Gruter Institute are countless. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Mike was honored to know someone with extraordinary intelligence, enduring curiosity, and a contagious generosity of spirit.
Mike was a close friend and collaborator of Margaret Gruter, the founder of the Gruter Institute. Their shared ideas about the importance of applying insights from behavioral biology and neuroscience to the law and other institutions led to decades of collaboration and joint publications.
Mike’s career in psychiatry and the biobehavioral sciences spanned over six decades and resulted in numerous books and scientific publications. As a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA, Mike’s research and publications pioneered and expanded the application of principles of evolutionary biology to the social sciences.
Mike’s study of neurochemistry, including neurotransmitters such as serotonin, and their impact on behavior shed light on the importance of neurochemistry to law, medicine and society. This work is featured in his book The Neurotransmitter Revolution: Serotonin, Social Behavior and the Law (with Roger Masters, edited by Margaret Gruter). Mike also pioneered work in applying concepts from evolutionary biology to psychiatry, as illustrated in Darwinian Psychiatry (with Alfonso Troisi). Most recently, Mike collaborated with Lionel Tiger in God’s Brain, explaining religion and its ubiquity as an innate neurological need.
Mike’s advances in science resulted from his invaluable harnessing of both entrepreneurial leadership and generosity of spirit. Mike possessed an innate ability to pioneer projects and to make others want to join the effort. Mike played a key role in helping to grow the Gruter Institute from a small start up to a renowned interdisciplinary Institute at the forefront of academic research. He approached his last decade on his treasured ranch in Cottonwood, California, with the same energy and optimism. Up at 5am with acres of vineyards and vegetables to tend to, he was thrilled to devote the full force of his skills to his newest project!
Upon my grandmother Margaret Gruter’s death, Mike’s friendship and continued participation as a member of the Board of Directors of the Gruter Institute were truly invaluable. His insights and wisdom helped me guide the Institute into the next century while keeping true to its mission of fostering interdisciplinary research and teaching designed to inform law, economics and other social sciences about the latest scientific findings about human behavior.
I know I speak for all of Mike’s friends and colleagues when I say we will miss Mike but that his work and spirit will continue through our collective endeavors.
Monika Gruter Cheney and family
The Gruter Institute for Law & Behavioral Research and its colleagues and friends.