Science alums return to tour ISC

Accomplished science alumni from Geneseo's graduating classes 1969 through 2005 returned to campus on Saturday to visit the Integrated Science Center.

According to biology professor George Briggs, who played a key role in the organization of the event, there was a diverse array of alumni present. In addition to Briggs, alumni Richard Blondell, Hank Latorella and William Piccione and 1975 graduate Albert Morier-who initiated the function's planning-organized the gathering.

The event began at 1 p.m. with a meet and greet session which allowed visiting alumni to become acquainted with the impressive ISC lobby. President Christopher Dahl and professor Ray Spear, the current biology department chair, both gave introductory speeches.

At the gathering, faculty members and students who are currently working on research projects - many of which were presented at G.R.E.A.T. Day last semester - had the opportunity to speak with alumni about their progress.

"I think it's a great opportunity to show research to distinguished alumni and to help build connections," said senior Adam Biedny, who presented research on the effects of a drug to designed to induce cancer cell damage in breast cancer patients.

Senior Rafi Yusuf said he felt the event "exemplifies the close-knit nature of the Geneseo network."

Spear gave the alumni a briefing on the current state of the sciences at Geneseo and pointed out that the number of students pursuing scientific degrees, particularly in biology, has risen tremendously since most of the alumni graduated. He emphasized the strength of the department and a shift in interest among students toward health fields.

Morier's advice to students, particularly those intending to enter the medical field, for which he said he has a "special fondness," was to "succeed in trying to help people and to try to do something significant."

Morier said that when he and his peers, including Blondell, class of '74, were at Geneseo, there weren't many students pursuing scientific degrees. He said that now Geneseo gets a lot of recognition for its science departments and described the growth of the program as, "very impressive and humbling."

Many of the participating alumni said they are now teaching at the university level and stressed the technological advantages that students of science have available to them today. They indicated that they were particularly impressed with the technology available to students in the ISC.

"It is amazing in terms of progression and development," said 1985 graduate Matthew Hand, who was featured on ABC's 20/20 last February for his work with sirenomelia, a rare disease known as "Mermaid Syndrome."

"What's really terrific is that students have this opportunity," Hand said. "It is an incredible advantage."