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Last modified: Monday, June 17, 2002

Biology professors receive top awards

Two Indiana University biologists were awarded high honors by scientific societies this month.

Distinguished Professor Thomas Kaufman received the Marcus Singer Award for his pioneering research in developmental biology at the Midwest Developmental Biology Meeting in Columbia, Mo., which concluded June 4. The medal, first given in 1982, is bestowed upon researchers recognized as having made lasting contributions to the study of developmental biology or cellular regeneration. Among Kaufman's coups in fruit fly developmental genetics was his 1980 discovery of a cluster of mutations in Drosophila melanogaster called the Antennapedia Complex. One of the genetic members of the complex causes legs to grow where the fly's antennas should be, while another causes legs to replace the mouth parts. The find represented a major step forward in scientists' understanding of animal body plan development.

Fellow biologist and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Charles Heiser was named to receive the 2002 Raven Award by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. The award, which will be presented at the society's August meeting in Madison, Wis., recognizes Heiser's exceptional efforts in sharing the wonders of plant classification with non-scientists. He also received the Asa Gray Award in 1988 for forwarding the society's research and teaching goals. His latest book, Weeds in My Garden: Observations on Some Misunderstood Plants (Timber Press), will be released next spring.

"It makes me awfully proud of these two individuals and our department," said IU Biology Department chair Jeffrey Palmer. "They have made nothing less than groundbreaking contributions on topics ranging from the domestication of plants to the role of genes in animal development."

Note: To arrange an interview with Kaufman or Heiser, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or