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David Bricker

Last modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Two IU biologists receive national honors

Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences have elected Indiana University biology professors Howard Gest and Michael Lynch to the academy. The illustrious society, founded in 1780, includes such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Albert Einstein among its members.

According to the academy's announcement of its new members, "Election to the American Academy is the result of a highly competitive process that recognizes those who have made prominent contributions to all scholarly fields and professions." A total of 16 Bloomington faculty have now been selected over the years for this national organization.

Among Gest's many contributions is his discovery in 1983 of Heliobacterium, an unusual group of light-harnessing green bacteria. Biologists now believe Heliobacterium ancestors may have played an important role in the evolution of photosynthesis in plants, which was a crucial step in the evolution of higher forms of life.

Lynch, an evolutionary biologist, has made major contributions to geneticists' understanding of how accidental gene duplications lead to the evolution of new genes with unique properties.

"I'm extremely proud," said Professor Jeffrey Palmer, chair of the IU Department of Biology. "This gives our department a total of five faculty who have been elected to the American Academy in just the past four years."

NOTE: To arrange an interview with Gest or Lynch, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or