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Last modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lecture honoring legacy of IU endocrinologist Holland draws leading butterfly geneticist

Briscoe lab uses butterflies to examine how natural selection may lead to changes in color vision, wing color

Oct. 4, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In order to understand how human color vision evolved, scientists often first try to figure out how useful such a trait is in nature. For Indiana University 2011 James P. Holland Memorial guest lecturer Adriana Briscoe, new clues to human color vision lie in the photoreceptors of butterflies.

Adriana Briscoe

University of California Irvine environmental biologist Adriana Briscoe will present Indiana University's 12th Annual James P. Holland Memorial lecture Monday, Oct. 10, in Bloomington.

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The University of California Irvine associate professor of ecology and environmental biology, noted in 2008 as one of 30 "Young Investigators to Watch" by Genome Technology Magazine, will deliver the 12th annual Holland Memorial Lecture Monday, Oct. 10, at 4 p.m. in Myers Hall (Room 130).

Research at the Briscoe lab focuses on understanding what happens to gene products underlying physiological and behavioral traits following gene duplication and functional diversification, using butterflies to examine how natural selection shapes the amino acid sequence of a photoreceptor protein and how this may lead to co-evolutionary changes in color vision and wing color.

Considered to be at the intersection of molecular evolution, comparative physiology and animal behavior, Briscoe's work has been some of the first involving cloning visual pigment in swallowtail butterflies and mapping the expression patterns of the duplicated genes. The lab is also interested in how changes in the spectral tuning of photoreceptors in the eye affect ecological interactions between butterflies and their predators, potential mates, host plants and the environment in communities of mimetic butterflies.

Briscoe's presentation will be titled "The Genetic Basis of Adaptation in the Color Vision Systems of Mimetic Butterflies." She holds a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University, has been at UC Irvine since 2002, and held a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2000-2001. Briscoe is currently an associate editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The James P. Holland Memorial Lecture Series was initiated in fall 2000 by the Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Diversity, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the Department of Biology. It honors one of the most beloved faculty members on the Bloomington campus, James P. Holland, who died of cancer in 1998. This lecture series is now organized by the Hudson and Holland Scholars Programs and the IU Department of Biology and is designed to bring awareness of and support to diversity in the life sciences. .

Holland, an endocrinologist, earned more than two dozen teaching and service awards during his 31-year career at IU, including the Student Choice Award for Outstanding Faculty, the Herman B Wells Lifetime Achievement Award, the Indiana University Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching Award, the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Chancellor's Medallion for his "transcendent service to the Bloomington campus." He worked tirelessly to address the needs of minority students on the Bloomington campus, joining forces with Professor Herman Hudson to found the Minority Achievers Program and the Mathematics and Science Scholarship Program, two programs renamed in 2003 to honor the efforts of these two men: MAP became the Herman C. Hudson Scholars Program, and MASS is now the James P. Holland Scholars Program.

The Holland Lecture Committee currently consists of Associate Professor Heather Reynolds, Associate Professor Brian Calvi, and Kathy Wyss. Briscoe's lecture is sponsored by the IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs; Office of the Provost; Office of the Vice Provost for Research; College of Arts & Sciences; Department of Biology and its National Institutes of Health Graduate Training Grant and its National Institutes of Health Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity in Scientific Research; and the Medical Sciences Program.

The lecture series honors Holland's legacy and is designed to bring awareness of and support to diversity in the life sciences. For more information on the Holland Lecture Series, go here.

For more information contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or Tweeting Indiana University Science here.