Anniversary celebration planned for 50th year

By Katherine Klingseis,

The year is 1960. Elvis Presley sings to sold-out crowds, the American people elect John F. Kennedy to be president, and at Iowa State a group of professors form the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology.

The department marks 2010 as the 50th anniversary of their establishment. To commemorate, the department is having a celebration July 23-25.

A planning group designed to set up the event consists of former chairmen Bernie White and Don Graves, former graduate student Wen-Chy Chu, former undergraduate student Teresa Kelley, the department’s undergraduate program coordinator Desiree Gunning and the department’s chairman Aragula Gururaj Rao.

“We are looking to host about 225 people for this upcoming event,” Gunning said. “That number represents a cross-section of all the decades.”

The two-day event begins with registration, followed by tours of the Molecular Biology Building led by ISU students. The official beginning of the event is the opening program BBMB Past and Present. To conclude the night, there will be a social mixer, featuring hors d’oeuvres and a bar.

“[The event] is about connecting the past with the present, which is something you don’t have a lot of opportunities to accomplish, and this is that opportunity,” Gunning said.

The celebration aims to have “an appropriate mix of fun, nostalgia and grandeur,” according to the event’s invitation. The event will focus heavily on allowing former faculty and students to communicate with current faculty and students.

“It’s about connecting with the people who were once so much a part of the department who moved on and are now coming back,” Gunning said. “It’s that sense of being a part of a family.”

The second day will begin with a continental breakfast, followed by speakers and presentations. The rest of the day will be devoted to more speakers and presentations, as well as networking breaks.

The event will conclude with a dinner gala at Gateway Hotel and Conference Center. At the gala, there will be the concluding program BBMB Future.

“The 50th anniversary for anybody [or] anything is a big event,” Gunning said. “We are really excited about the alumni that are returning.”

During the past 50 years, 1,400 students have graduated from the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology. Today, the department hopes to stay connected with all of its alumni.

“I look forward to the long-term consequences of this gathering,” Gunning said. “I look forward to the reconnection and a continued effort to involve our alumni in what’s happening in our building today, tomorrow and the future.”

Gunning also hopes the event will serve as a reminder for the attendees of their time at Iowa State.

“[The most important part of the event] is bringing everyone together to remind them how important their time was in the department; also for the department to continue to hold a place in their hearts and in their minds.”

(Originally posted on on July 9, 2010)

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