Paul Pellas (1924 – 1997) was born in Marseille on July 24 1924 and, after living in Saigon, moved to back to France and then to Rome for schooling. With the rise of fascism in Italy, he moved to Switzerland in 1942 to study chemistry at the University of Geneva. In 1943, he joined the resistance (Franc Tireurs et Partisans). In 1948, after studying mineralogy at the University of Paris, he joined the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission) studying radiation damage in crystals: his 1951 and 1954 papers on the metamict state of radioactive crystals were land-breaking, but it was written in French and hardly acknowledged. In 1952 he moved to the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris, where he judiciously allocated meteorite samples for over 25 years.

Paul discovered tracks generated by cosmic rays in a meteorite (Eagle Station) with Michel Maurette and Robert Walker in 1964. He later worked on fossil solar cosmic ray and 244Pu fission tracks in chondrites and proposed an "onion-shell'' structure for the H-chondrite parent body. He was a NASA principal investigator for Apollo and USSR (Luna) samples. He excelled in scientific debates and championed that S type asteroids must be the abundant ordinary chondrites.

Paul was named a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society in 1970, and his persistent recruiting of European members of the Meteoritical Society  persuaded Council to start alternating meetings between the US and Europe. He initiated the travel grant program, which allowed many to attend Meteoritical Society meetings. He became the first non-American President of the Society (1977-1978). He is remembered in the Pellas-Ryder Award for graduate students who are first author of a peer-reviewed planetary science paper.