Indiana State University Newsroom

Science series will cover spiders to apes and cave microbes to horn beetles

December 16, 2009

From deer mice to cave research and from genetics to spiders, for the fifth year Indiana State University's From Molecules to Ecosystems biology seminar series will explore ongoing science research.

The talks are free and open to the community. All seminars begin at 4 p.m. in Science Room 012.

"The mission of the talks is to create an innovative science community," said Rusty Gonser, Indiana State associate professor of biology. "With more and more people from the community attending, that is happening."

More than 1,700 people attended the 2009 talks, which took place throughout the semester. Gonser estimated about 10 percent of those attending came from the community.

By bringing in top researchers from throughout the United States and Canada, Gonser said it allows community members and students to receive a wider breadth of scientific research knowledge.

"They're gaining insights to different types of research than what's conducted at ISU," he said. "This allows them to be more creative in how they view research."

It also allows students to build relationships with researchers who are conducting research in which they are interested. Gonser noted that through the past five years, ISU students have contacted different researchers that have presented at ISU.

The series kicks off Jan. 19 with Dina Leech, assistant professor of biology at DePauw University. She plans to speak on "From Blackwater Rivers to Quarry Ponds: An Aquatic Ecologist's Journey from Coastal North Carolina to Central Indiana." She studies the impact of global warming and aquatic ecosystems.

Then on Jan. 26, Rick Douglass, biology department head from Montana Tech will serve as the Robert H. MacArthur Ecology Speaker. He plans to speak on "What Can You Learn about Emerging and Infectious Diseases by Studying Deer Mouse Ecology for 15 years?" Douglass, a biologist, has studied how deer mice have spread the hantavirus, a respiratory disease with flu-like symptoms.

Other upcoming speakers are:
• Feb. 2 - Hazel Barton, assistant professor of biology at Northern Kentucky University, also serves as the director of the National Speleological Society. She studies how microbes can live in harsh environments, such as caves. She was featured in the 2001 IMAX film "Journey Into Amazing Caves."
• Feb. 16 - Armin Mozcek, associate professor of biology at Indiana University, studies the evolution of the horn beetles. He studies how different traits originate and diversify in nature.
• Feb. 23 - Women in Science Speaker Melissa Emery Thompson, research assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, specializes in the reproductive strategies of female apes and ecology of reproduction in chimpanzees. She conducts research in Uganda at the Kibale National Park, the Budongo Forest Preserve and Ngamba Island. She also works in Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where Jane Goodall conducted her research.
• March 2 - John Bickham, director of Center for the Environment at Purdue University, focuses his research on genetic mutations.
• March 23 - Andrew DeWoody, genetics professor at Purdue University, researches evolutionary genetics, molecular ecology and evolution, natural history, conservation biology, wildlife and fisheries management.
• April 6 - Tri-Beta Speaker Patrick Burton, assistant professor of biology at Wabash College, studies the evolution of development.
• April 13 - Double Helix Speaker Oliver Ryder, serves as Curator of the Frozen Zoo at San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, which is one of the largest zoo-based research centers in the world and is dedicated to preserving rare and endangered species.
• April 27 - Diversity Speaker Maydianne Andrade, associate professor at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, primarily studies black widow spiders and the ecological and social factors that play into their reproduction and life history decisions.

The series is sponsored by First Year Programs, the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, Office of Diversity, Center for Public Service and Community Engagement, the Honors Program, the Lilly Endowment and St. Mary's-of-the-Woods College.

For more information, visit or call 812-237-2501. Upcoming speakers may also be found at
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Contact: Rusty Gonser, Indiana State University, assistant professor of life sciences, at 812- 237-2395 or

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or