ISU welcomes ecology and biology speakers

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
April 16, 2009

On Tuesday April 21, a researcher of ecology and evolution of animal populations in nature will speak at Indiana State University as part of the Biology Seminar Series: "From Molecules to Ecosystems." Then in celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday there will be a biology speaker on April 24.

Both scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is a good week to hear two the nation's top scientists," said Rusty Gonser, ISU assistant professor of biology. "This is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and members of the community to interact with scientist that have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences."

John Avise, a distinguished professor at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of California at Irvine will speak at 4 p.m. April 21 in room 12 of the Science Building. Avise will discuss the work he has done to become known as the founding father of phylogeography, the scientific study of the geographic distribution of genetic lineages within species in a discussion titled, "Genetics in the Wild."

Avise earned his bachelor's in natural resources from the University of Michigan, and went on to get his Master's in Zoology from the University of Texas. In 1975, Avise obtained his PhD in genetics from the University of California at Davis. Currently a professor at the University of California at Irvine, Avise is also a member of the National Academy of Science. As a prevailing figure of his generation, Avise has paved the way for the use of molecular genetic techniques for studying the evolutionary relationships among animal and specie populations. He was also the first to initiate the use of mitochondrial DNA in order to study the evolution of animals.

Avise is ISU's 4th Annual Double Helix Speaker. Double Helix day is a day of recognition of the discovery of the shape of DNA. It honors James Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalin Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, co-discoverers of the structure of DNA.

In honor of Darwin's birthday, Marc Kirschner, a professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School will speak on, "Are there general principles for phenotypic variation in evolution," at 2 p.m. on April 24, in room 12 of the Science Building.

Kirschner, who founded the department of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, was elected Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London and Foreign Member of the Academia Europaea in 1999. In 2001, he received the William C. Rose Award, presented by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He also received the International Award by the Gairdner Foundation of Toronto that same year.

In 1966, Kirschner graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's followed by a master's degree a few years later, and went on to obtain a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971. Upon finishing postdoctoral research at Berkeley and the University of Oxford, he was appointed an assistant professor at Princeton University.

Currently, Kirschner has around 300 publications. The most recognized is "Cells, Embryos, and Evolution, and the Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma," which he co-wrote with John Gerhart. Kirschner is now focusing his attention on computer-based systems of biology. He is currently president of the American Society of Cell Biology.

The seminar series, sponsored by the ISU department of biology, the Honors Program, enrollment services department of geography, geology, and anthropology, IU Medicine Terre Haute, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College science and math department, and the Lilly Endowment bring internationally recognized research scientists to speak to students and community members. For more information, visit http://www.indstate.edu/darwin/ or call 812-237-2501. Refreshments will be served from 3:30 to 4 p.m. with the seminar beginning at 4 p.m.

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Contact: Rusty Gonser, Indiana State University, assistant professor, at 812- 237-2395 or rgonser@isugw.indstate.edu

Swapan Ghosh, Indiana State University, biology professor, at 812-237-2416 or sghosh@isugw.indstate.edu 

Writer: Jennifer Spector, Indiana State University, Media Relations Intern at 812-237-3773 or jspector@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

On Tuesday April 21, a researcher of ecology and evolution of animal populations in nature will speak at Indiana State University as part of the Biology Seminar Series: From Molecules to Ecosystems. Then in celebration of Darwins 200th birthday there will be a biology speaker on April 24.

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