Indiana State University Newsroom

50th anniversary celebration of biology education is Oct. 3

September 25, 2015

A celebration of science will mark the 50th anniversary of graduate studies in biology at Indiana State University.

"We want to celebrate all the experiential learning that goes on in the department of biology," said Rusty Gonser, professor of biology and director of the Center for Genomic Advocacy at Indiana State. "There will be presentations during the day, and there will be tours of all the remodeled labs, spaces and all the designs for spaces for the new program in genetic counseling."

In 1953, the double-helix structure of DNA was discovered, ushering in a golden era of learning in the biology field.

"And here we sit, the human genome had been sequenced at 10 years for $10 billion - and just in the last 15 years, we can now sequence a genome in a few days for a couple thousand dollars," Gonser said. "We can now tailor drugs for people's genome and change the face of healthcare to what they now call precision medicine -- from general to precision -- now treating you and your genetics."

Other research milestones such as animal tracking and acoustics have forever changed the way we learn about organisms.

At Indiana State, biology graduate programs were started in 1965, with the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation added in 2005 and the Center for Genomic Advocacy established in 2012.

Just this spring, the Board of Trustees approved a new Master of Science in Genetic counseling program, pending approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The interdisciplinary program will include courses from biology, psychology, philosophy and counseling.

To mark these accomplishments, events throughout the day will consist of tours, 10 a.m.-noon, of the biology department, Center for Genomic Advocacy, genetic counseling and Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation facilities, all located on the second floor of the science building, along with a research symposium. Seminars will begin at 1 p.m. in room 214 of the science building, and a career panel is at 4 p.m. Alumni and current students are encouraged to share their biology research. 

School of Music instructor Brent McPike (guitar) and Solly Burton (mandolin) will perform during the social hour and silent auction at 5 p.m. McPike has performed extensively as a solo guitarist (finger-style jazz/popular/classical), with his band, The Haute Club, and Burton, who is a two-time Winfield National Mandolin Champion.

A dinner and program will follow at 6 p.m. in Dede I of the Hulman Memorial Student Union.For more information or to register, go to

-30- -- Rusty Gonser, professor of biology and director of the Center for Genomic Advocacy at Indiana State University, participates in a field study of white-throated sparrows in New York.

Media contact: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or