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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Alumni & Development

Biology Alumni Newsletter: Summer 2010

Honors to Brun, Ketterson, & Rieseberg

Three esteemed faculty members have been honored as fellows in various academies and societies. Yves Brun has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Ellen Ketterson is the newest fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Loren Rieseberg has been elected to the Royal Society.

Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology

Yves Brun

Photo courtesy of Indiana University

Further contributing to the strong microbiology presence on the IU Bloomington campus, Yves Brun, Clyde Culbertson Professor of Biology, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. This is a prestigious honor in the field of microbiology, as elected fellows are chosen “through a highly selective, peer-review process based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology,” according to the Academy’s selection criteria.

Roger Innes, chair of the Department of Biology noted, “It is a well deserved honor for Yves, who has provided tremendous leadership to our department and to the Microbiology Faculty Section for many years, and at the same time has maintained a highly productive lab performing cutting−edge research.”

Brun’s research focuses on bacterial development and life history, using Caulobacter crescentus as his model system. Notably, Brun was one of several researchers who found that Caulobacter crescentus could produce nature’s strongest glue — a finding that was widely publicized in the media in early 2006.  Brun also looks at non-model bacterial species to offer evolutionary perspectives to his research. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Brun has assembled an expert team of collaborators and lab personnel to concentrate on biological questions regarding the regulation of cell differentiation, control of cellular asymmetry, bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation, evolutionary genomics, and bacterial aging. The Brun lab uses several approaches in their research projects including biochemistry, genetics, genomics, proteomics, molecular and cell biology, mathematical modeling, and biophysics.

Brun traveled to San Diego in late May to attend the Academy’s annual meeting and luncheon to honor new fellows. According to their website, “the American Academy of Microbiology is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, the world's oldest and largest life science organization. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.”

Recent professors of biology who have been elected fellows include Patricia Foster (2008) and Malcolm Winkler (2009). Carl Bauer, an adjunct professor of biology and chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, was also elected a fellow in 2009. Biology professors emeriti who have received this honor include Howard Gest, George Hegeman, Arthur Koch, Milton Taylor, and Eugene Weinberg.


American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow (top)

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) elected Distinguished Professor Ellen Ketterson a fellow of the organization. She was inducted at a special ceremony held at the group’s annual meeting in San Diego on Feb. 20. Founded in 1848, the not-for-profit association recognizes fellows for stellar contributions to science. Ketterson was selected for her “contributions to novel research in animal behavior and evolutionary biology.” She is internationally known for her 24-year population study on dark-eyed juncos.

Ellen Ketterson hooding a graduating doctoral student

Nicole Gerlach takes a photo of Dawn O’Neal, being hooded by their advisor, Ellen Ketterson, at the IUB Graduate Commencement Ceremony. Photo: Aaron Bernstein/Indiana University

Ketterson’s experimental field research involves phenotypic engineering, “the experimental modification of species behavior and life history traits using hormones in order to test whether the modified animal performs better in nature than the unmodified animal.” Biology Chair Roger Innes calls Ketterson a pioneer in the field of animal behavior. “Her studies on the interplay between hormones, life history traits, and natural selection in birds have been highly influential,” Innes said. “Ellen is also a terrific role model and mentor for her students. Her leadership within our animal behavior group has helped make it one of the top programs in the country.” She is a former co-director and founding member of IU’s Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior. One of her most treasured honors is the Margaret Morse Nice Medal that she jointly earned with her late husband and collaborator, Val Nolan, to honor their lifetime contributions to ornithology. Currently, Ketterson is collaborating on an interactive, educational media project on the dark-eyed junco.

Other AAAS fellows on our faculty include Keith Clay, Thomas Kaufman, Curtis Lively, Michael Lynch, Jeffrey D. Palmer, Craig Pikaard, Loren Rieseberg, Michael Wade, and Miriam Zolan. Retirees Howard Gest and Drew Schwartz are also AAAS fellows.


Fellow of the Royal Society (top)

Loren Rieseberg

Photo: IU HomePages, ©2005

Loren Rieseberg, distinguished professor of biology, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s National Academy of Science. Election to the Royal Society is one of the most prestigious honors in the natural sciences and marks the latest of many accolades Rieseberg has received during his illustrious career. 

Rieseberg studies speciation, an evolutionary process by which new plant species arise. His lab integrates high-throughput genomic methods, bioinformatics, ecological experiments, and evolutionary theory to study the origin and evolution of species, plants, and weeds. He has largely focused his work on wild and domesticated sunflowers and other species in the genus Helianthus.

According to the Royal Society, Rieseberg “has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of speciation mechanisms and the evolution of local adaptation. He has pioneered the application of experimental genomic approaches to studies of microevolutionary processes. He demonstrated that new diploid plant species arise through hybridization, that this mode of speciation results from significant ecological and karyotypic divergence, and that the process occurs with remarkable speed. Rieseberg has also shown that new hybrid gene combinations facilitate the colonization of extreme environments indicating that hybridization provides a mechanism for major ecological and evolutionary transitions requiring simultaneous changes at multiple traits and genes.”

Other notable honors that Rieseberg has received include his election as a fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2003, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (also referred to as the “Genius Award”), which honors U.S. citizens that “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work”, and the inaugural Stebbins Medal, awarded for an outstanding publication related to plant evolution or phylogenetic plant systematics, from the International Association of Plant Taxonomy.

Maintaining his faculty appointment with the Department of Biology at IU Bloomington, Rieseberg is also a professor of botany at the University of British Columbia, where his primary laboratory is now located.

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