Terry L. Yates, 57, a biologist who discovered the source of the deadly hantavirus in the American Southwest and who held several leadership positions with the National Science Foundation in Washington, died Dec. 11 of brain cancer at a hospital in Albuquerque, N.M. He was a University of New Mexico vice president and lived in Placitas, N.M.

In the spring of 1993, many people in the Four Corners region, where New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona meet, were stricken with a mysterious illness. The virus killed 32 people in a matter of weeks.

Using animal specimens he had collected over the years throughout the Southwest, Mr. Yates, with research partner Robert Parmenter, isolated the source of what came to be known as the hantavirus. The virus was carried by deer mice, which were in abundance in 1993 because of unusually wet weather in the Southwest.