It was a sad day when Curie the resident MSUM Green iguana passed away. But, don’t fear, a kind family near Detroit Lakes contacted the MSUM Biosciences Department to donate their 3-year-old Green iguana. If you have passed by recently might have caught a glimpse of her chilling out on the branches or eating some raspberries.

The Department needs your help picking a new name for the iguana! Starting Monday, May 2 there will be ballots in the Biosciences and Chemistry Office (Hagen Hall 103). Stop by and pick up your ballot, fill it out and drop it in the box located next to her enclosure. Voting will end on Wednesday, May 4 and the name will be announced on Thursday, May 5!

Below are the choices with some information on the history of the person she would be named after (information copied from Wikipedia).

Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially some environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people.

Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958) was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite. Although her works on coal and viruses were appreciated in her lifetime, her contributions to the discovery of DNA were largely recognized posthumously. Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA while at King’s College, London, which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix for which James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Watson suggested that Franklin would have ideally been awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Wilkins, but the Nobel Committee does not make posthumous nominations.

Lynn Margulis (March 5, 1938 – November 22, 2011) was an American evolutionary theorist, science author, educator, and popularizer, and was the primary modern proponent for the significance of symbiosis in biological evolution. Historian Jan Sapp has said that “Lynn Margulis’s name is as synonymous with symbiosis as Charles Darwin’s is with evolution.” In particular, Margulis transformed and fundamentally framed current understanding of the evolution of cells with nuclei – an event Ernst Mayr called “perhaps the most important and dramatic event in the history of life” – by proposing it to have been the result of symbiotic mergers of bacteria. Margulis was also the co-developer of Gaia theory with the British chemist James Lovelock, proposing that the Earth functions as a single self-regulating system, and was the principal defender and promulgater of the five kingdom classification of Robert Whittaker.

Henrietta Lacks (1 August 1920 – 4 October 1951) was an African-American woman who was the unwitting source of cells from her cancerous tumor which were cultured by George Otto Gey to create the first known human immortal cell line for medical research. This is now known as the HeLa cell line. Following Otto Gey’s death in 1970, colleagues writing a tribute discovered that Lacks’ cancer had been misdiagnosed and was actually an adenocarcinoma of the cervix. The cells from Henrietta’s tumor were given to researcher George Gey, who “discovered that [Henrietta’s] cells did something they’d never seen before: They could be kept alive and grow.” Before this, cells cultured from other cells would only survive for a few days. Scientists spent more time trying to keep the cells alive than performing actual research on the cells, but some cells from Lacks’s tumor sample behaved differently from others. George Gey was able to isolate one specific cell, multiply it, and start a cell line. Gey named the sample HeLa, after the initial letters of Henrietta Lacks’ name. As the first human cells grown in a lab that were “immortal” (they do not die after a few cell divisions), they could be used for conducting many experiments. This represented an enormous boon to medical and biological research. In 1955 HeLa cells were the first human cells successfully cloned. Demand for the HeLa cells quickly grew. Since they were put into mass production, Henrietta’s cells have been mailed to scientists around the globe for “research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and countless other scientific pursuits”. HeLa cells have been used to test human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, and many other products. Scientists have grown 20 tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.

Barbara McClintock (June 16, 1902 – September 2, 1992) was an American scientist and cytogeneticist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. McClintock received her PhD in botany from Cornell University in 1927. There she started her career as the leader in the development of maize cytogenetics, the focus of her research for the rest of her life. From the late 1920s, McClintock studied chromosomes and how they change during reproduction in maize. She developed the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic ideas. One of those ideas was the notion of genetic recombination by crossing-over during meiosis—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome to physical traits. She demonstrated the role of the telomere and centromere, regions of the chromosome that are important in the conservation of genetic information. She was recognized among the best in the field, awarded prestigious fellowships, and elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1944. During the 1940s and 1950s, McClintock discovered transposition and used it to demonstrate that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off. She developed theories to explain the suppression and expression of genetic information from one generation of maize plants to the next. Due to skepticism of her research and its implications, she stopped publishing her data in 1953.