As one of the nation’s leading research institutions, IU is home to more than 160 institutes and centers, 33 of which are under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Research. IU Home Pages has created “Think Tank” as the place to acquaint our readers with the missions and activities of this wide array of scholarly environments. In this issue, we shine the spotlight on The Center for Integrative Study of Animal Behavior. Please send your suggestions for centers and institutes to be featured in future issues to Lee Ann Sandweiss at firstname.lastname@example.org
The brainchild of Ellen Ketterson, IUB Department of Biology, and William Timberlake, IUB Department of Psychology, the Center for Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB) at Indiana University was developed to offer students an integrative alternative to the trend toward narrowness and overspecialization in scientific training.
In 1991, 15 behavioral scientists from three graduate programs (biology, psychology and neural sciences) joined together to form a Research Training Group, attracting funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to train graduate students and post-docs in the interdisciplinary study of animal behavior.
During the next decade, CISAB established both graduate and undergraduate minors and area certificates in animal behavior, two shared core facilities giving CISAB members access to specialized research equipment and myriad other programs supporting research and training in animal behavior. Currently, the center has 40 faculty (representing 16 departments and programs), 18 post-docs and affiliated scientists, 45 graduate students and 60 undergraduate students. This year, CISAB’s current director, biologist Emilia Martins, and Sue Linville, the new outreach coordinator, launched an internship program in partnership with the Indianapolis Zoo, the Exotic Feline Rescue Center at Center Point, WonderLab in Bloomington and the Bloomington Animal Shelter.
Summer does not mean “down time” for CISAB faculty, thanks to its Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) Program in Animal Behavior. The NSF-sponsored program covers all expenses to bring 10 talented undergraduates from other institutions to spend 10 weeks at IU studying animal behavior. The REU is one of the oldest and most successful summer research programs for undergraduates in the country, having been nurtured for many years by the recently deceased Bill Rowland of the IUB Department of Biology. To honor Rowland’s many contributions, CISAB has published a special memorial issue of its quarterly bulletin and is accepting contributions for the William J. Rowland Memorial Award to recognize graduate students who carry on his tradition of undergraduate mentoring.
In 2003, CISAB opened its new core Animal Behavior (AB) Lab in Jordan Hall.
Managed by Amy Eklund, it is open to all CISAB members who wish to incorporate genetic, biochemical, neuroendocrine or immunological techniques into their research. In its first year of operation, the AB lab participated in 22 separate projects involving CISAB members from 14 labs in biology, psychology, medical sciences and chemistry.
Martins says that while the communal laboratory fosters interdisciplinary research, the center’s building—a restored three-story house (circa 1910) near the Indiana Memorial Union—facilitates collegiality among faculty and graduate students.
“The geography of the campus makes it hard for people to get together, especially with all the construction of the new science buildings underway. There is very little opportunity to interact unless we create opportunity, and that’s what we’ve done,” she said.
Since its inception, CISAB has sponsored more than 130 guest lectures, many in conjunction with graduate seminars, part of the REU Program in Animal Behavior. Prominent researchers from around the world have presented public talks about their research, many of which were videotaped and archived in the CISAB Video Library collection. Bill Timberlake has been impressed at the caliber of the speakers over the years.
“If you take a look at who we have in our film library, it’s really remarkable—it reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in animal behavior research,” he said. Timberlake added that a video list is available on the center’s Web site, and particular videos may be viewed at the center by contacting Linda Summers; E-mail email@example.com.
CISAB’s popular Web site was accessed more than 2.5 million times last year.
In addition to providing information on upcoming events, funding opportunities, the REU program and back issues of the CISAB bulletin, the site offers teacher resources and kids’ pages. Explore it for yourself: