Indiana State University Newsroom

Biology speaker series begins Jan. 18

January 6, 2011

During the sixth year of Indiana State University's Darwin Keynote Speaker Series as part of the biology seminar series From Molecules to Ecosystems, the community and students will have a chance to explore on-going research related to birds, strip mines and frogs.

Each of the talks, which are free and open to the community, will take place a 4 p.m. in Science Building room 12.

"The mission of the talks is to create an innovative science community," said Rusty Gonser, Indiana State associate professor of biology.

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.

On Jan. 18, Chris Balakrishian, a professor at the University of Illinois, will begin the series as he discusses the evolution of the avian genome. Balakrishian, in his research, seeks to understand how genes and the environment interact to create the diversity seen in nature. He is the sixth annual Tri-Beta speaker.

Other speakers are:
• Feb. 8, Darwin Day - Trevor Price, University of Chicago, who studies the causes and consequences of bird speciation.
• Feb. 15 - John Maerz, University of Georgia, will speak on "Salamander Ecology in a Rapidly Changing World."
• March 15 - Danielle Greer, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, who studies conservation of the whooping crane.
• March 22 - Youssef Aachoui, ISU doctoral student, who studies the efficacy in vaccine development
• March 29, MacArthur Speaker - Carl Gerhardt, University of Missouri, who studies communication in frogs and toads.
• April 5, Gram Microbiology Speaker - J.K. Jayaswal, Illinois State University, who studies staphylococci.
• April 12, Double Helix Speaker - Wes Warren, Washington University at St. Louis, studies gene loss and gains to better understand human biology.
• April 19, Earth Day Speaker - Rick Douglass and Kriss Douglass, Montana Tech, who study reclaiming strip mines through plants.
• April 26 - Esteban Fernandaz-Jurcic, Purdue University, who studies how birds see and scan.

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 University Honors Program, Lilly Endowment and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

For more information , visit or call 812-237-2400. Additional speakers will be included during the semester. Please check the website for information on those dates.

Contact: Rusty Gonser, Indiana State University, associate professor of life sciences, at 812- 237-2395 or
Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or