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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Alumni & Development

BioNews: Winter 2013-14

Biology class notes

Before 1960

Calvin E. Oyer, BA'49, MD'52, retired as course leader of systemic pathology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He writes, “I look forward to more time for leisure activities such as hiking, skiing, and non-medical reading, starting with the novels of Thomas Hardy and Anthony Trollope. I will also have more time to visit my four children, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, who are scattered from coast to coast.” Oyer lives in Providence, R.I.

Elof A. Carlson, PhD'58, authored The 7 Sexes: The Biology of Sex Determination, published 2013 by Indiana University Press. He is distinguished teaching professor emeritus at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University. A geneticist and historian of science, Carlson wrote numerous works, including The Gene: A Critical History, and Neither Gods Nor Beasts: How Science Is Changing Who We Think We Are. He lives in Bloomington, Ind.


James O. Farlow Jr., BA'72, co-edited The Complete Dinosaur, published in 2012 by Indiana University Press. Farlow is professor of geology at IPFW and lives in Auburn, Ind.

Steven A. Hitzeman, BA'72, OD'76, director of the sports vision program at the IU School of Optometry, has co-designed a putter that allows golfers to more accurately navigate the putting green. Along with engineers at TaylorMade, Hitzeman helped develop the Corza Ghost Putter, whose white coloring and black lines make it easier for the golfer to align with their target. Hitzeman lives in Bloomington, Ind.

In February 2013, Kenneth R. Hyde, BA'72, DDS'75, MS'79, of Valparaiso, Ind.; Linda Olvey-Helmen, MSW'83, of Indianapolis; and Jimmie L. McMillian Jr., BA'98, JD'02, of Indianapolis, received Maynard K. Hine Medallions for their efforts on behalf of IUPUI, its students, schools, programs, and alumni. Hyde has been a part-time volunteer clinical assistant professor in the School of Dentistry's Department of Orthodontics and Oral Facial Development since 2008. 

Robert L. Zerbe, BA'72, MD'75, was elected to the Indiana University Foundation Board of Directors in 2012. He is co-founder, CEO, and director of QuatRX Pharmaceuticals in Ann Arbor, Mich. Prior to that, Zerbe was senior vice president of worldwide clinical research and development at Parke-Davis, during which time he oversaw the successful development programs for many products. From 1982 to 1993, he worked at Eli Lilly in the U.S. and the United Kingdom in a variety of research and development positions, including managing director, Lilly Research Center U.K., and vice president of clinical investigation and regulatory affairs. Zerbe lives in Ann Arbor.

Meg E. Guthrie, OD'13, an optometrist at Midwest Eye Consultants in Peru, Ind., is a fourth-generation graduate of IU, writes her grandmother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Thomas Guthrie, BSN'49. Meg's great-grandmother, Abbie Hasler Thomas, BA'19, graduated with a degree in Latin before becoming a missionary in India. Meg's father, Thomas J. Guthrie, BA'76, DDS'81, a Peru, Ind.-based dentist, and several aunts, great-aunts, and cousins also attended IU. Betsy notes, “My heart will always be with Indiana University.”

C. David Allis, MA'77, PhD'78, a pioneer in the field of epigenetics and the relationship between genes and disease, was awarded the Japan Prize, one of the most prestigious international science prizes, in January 2014. The New York City-based multinational media and financial-data firm Thomson Reuters named him a member of its 2012 'Nobel-class' Citation Laureates. Thomson Reuters annually “predicts” scientists and economists most likely to be named Nobel Prize winners, either in the current year or in the future. Allis, who is Tri-Institutional Professor and Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics at Rockefeller University in New York City, was named as a potential Nobel laureate in the physiology or medicine category. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Allis is the recipient of numerous honors in the field of medical and biomedical science. His pioneering research aims to clarify how cells translate genetic coding into meaningful messages, potentially opening doors to treatments and prevention strategies in fighting disease. He returned to IU Bloomington in 2011 to give a Tracy M. Sonneborn Lecture, entitled, “Beyond the Double Helix, Varying the Histone code.”

Retired dentist and long-time community activist Stephen I. Oppenheimer, BA'77, ran as a candidate for Georgia Public Service Commission in November 2012. He serves as task force coordinator for Clean-Cities Atlanta and on the City of Atlanta's Electric Vehicle Task Force. Oppenheimer is also on the Metro Atlanta Plug In Electric Vehicle Readiness Task Force and is a coalition member of Analysis of Global Security, a Washington, D.C., group focusing on energy security. He lives in Atlanta.

Michael J. Hayduk, BA'79, DDS'83, MS'86, specializes in dentistry and periodontics. He is licensed to practice in Indiana and Illinois and has offices in Michigan City and Merrillville, Ind. Hayduk lives in Munster, Ind.


In September, physician Gregg A. Dickerson, BA'80, MD'84, of Lone Tree, Colo., received a commendation from the Colorado State House of Representatives for his two-and-a-half year fight to convince the state's Medicare administrator to cover a treatment procedure for prostate cancer patients. He was presented with the award, along with an official plaque, on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol by IU alum. Rep. Lori Smith Saine, BS'00, who minored in biology at IU. 

Maury L. Fisher, BA'80, is an orthopedic surgeon and partner in the Florida Joint & Spine Institute in Winter Haven, Fla. His wife, Joni Esser Fisher, BA'80, is an author, book editor, and private pilot, who also teaches online writing workshops. She has published a science fiction novel, Phobos: Manned Mission, under the pen name J.M. Fisher. The couple lives in Auburndale, Fla.

In October, the IU College of Arts and Sciences in Bloomington welcomed three alumni back to campus as members of the inaugural class of the College's Luminaries Program. The three alumni are Robert A. “Bob” Chapek, BS'81, president of Disney Consumer Products; Donald M. Fehr, BA'70, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association; and Lorna G. Schofield, BA'77, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York. The Luminaries Program brings successful College alumni to campus to share personal and professional ideas and experiences with students, alumni, faculty, and staff in order to inspire future leaders. While on campus, Chapek met students for a breakfast hosted by the Department of Biology.


In 2012, Indiana State University reference and instruction librarian Shelley D. Arvin, BA'96, MLS'01, won the Winifred Sewell Award at the Special Libraries Association's annual convention in Chicago. The BioMedical and Life Sciences Division of the library association selected Arvin because of her “innovative use of technology in promoting biological and medical information.” The SLA BioMedical and Life Sciences Division is a 77-year old group with more than 550 subject specialist librarians in more than a dozen countries with an emphasis on the major life sciences. Arvin lives in Terre Haute.

Brian F. Dimitri, BA'97, is a science teacher at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. In 2012, his wife, Liza (Marczak), BS'96, earned a master's degree in education from St. Joseph's College in Maine. The couple lives in Auburn.

As a biology major at IU, Bart Fisher, BA'97, dreamed of moving to the West Coast to pursue a career as a marine biologist. But after heading out to California, the aptly named Fisher found himself diving into film production rather than the deep blue sea. In 2012, a film based on one of Fisher's original screenplays premiered on the Hallmark Channel. How to Fall In Love is a sweet and engaging love story about finding romance while connecting with one's inner self (for more information about the film, go to A successful film production specialist who has worked on several Hollywood feature films, including Freddy vs. Jason, The Alamo, and Blade Trinity, Fisher (who changed his last name from Griffith as a senior at IU) is a third generation IU graduate. He lives in Los Angeles.


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation has selected Cynthia Fierro Giesecke, BA'01, as one of 50 military spouses to receive a 2013 Military Spouse Fellowship. The fellowship, awarded by FINRA along with the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education and the National Military Family Association, provides military spouses a chance to break into the financial industry by obtaining an accredited financial counseling certificate at no cost. Giesecke lives in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Travis B. Jenney, BS'04, is an anesthetist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. He and his wife, Ashley (Ferguson), BAJ'05, who previously worked as a senior account executive at Van Winkle & Associates in Atlanta, welcomed their first son, Parker Hayes Jenney, in November 2010. The family lives in Atlanta.

After earning her degree in biology from IU, Laura Carver Kasbek, BS'04, entered a doctoral program in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Ohio State University. There she met fellow graduate student, Chris Kasbek, and the two were married in 2010 in Cincinnati. In September 2011, she successfully defended her dissertation, “Regulation of Slit-Rob Signaling by Commisureless and Comm Family Members,” under the supervision of Drosophilia geneticist and IU alum, Mark Seeger, PhD'89.

In 2012, Stephen J. Helms, BA/BS'05, received a doctorate in cell regulation from the University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Science. With a research focus on evolutionary design principles of biological systems, Helms has accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter at the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Physics, located in Amsterdam.

Kaci M. Alexander, BA/BS'10, received a 2012-13 medical education fellowship from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Mo. She writes that she married fellow medical student Matt Smith in June 2013. A month later, she moved to Akron, Ohio, to begin her third year of medical school.

Dustin R. Masser, BS'10, writes that he is working on a PhD in biomedical sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. He lives in Hershey, Pa.

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