sealPurdue Story Ideas

May 13, 2002

JOURNALISTS: Here are story ideas and a list of selected Purdue events during the next two weeks.

What a wicked web

Sure the superhero Spiderman can do lots of amazing tricks. But, what about the amazing little creatures that lurk in the corners of our house, hide under our beds, and spin webs in our garages?

Alan York, professor of entomology, is Purdue's own "Spiderman," and he can talk about the more common creature – amazing in its own right – that has inhabited the earth for thousands of years.

York knows spiders. He can discuss spiders native to Indiana or some of the more deadly varieties found around the world. York can dispel myths that surround the insect, discuss the arachnid's place in our ecosystem, share fun facts about the spider and share folklore that has been passed down for generations.

York's Spooky Spider Facts:

• There have been no documented deaths from tarantula bites.

• When a tarantula bites, it is unlikely to inject poison. Why?

• How did the word "cobweb" derive its meaning to describe a spider's web?

• All spiders are poisons to secure their food. In most cases, the venom they possess is not threatening to humans.

• In Indiana the black widow and the brown recluse are of concern, but not deadly.

• The common "daddy long legs" is not a spider --

CONTACT: Alan York, professor of entomology, (765) 494-4559,; or Jesica Webb, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079, to arrange interviews or campus visits.

Purdue's star chemist celebrates 90

The Department of Chemistry at Purdue is having a celebration to commemorate the 90th birthday of Purdue Nobel Laureate Herbert C. Brown. More than 100 of Brown's former associates from around the world will assemble at Purdue May 22-25 for three days of celebrations, which will include a series of scientific lectures and talks. The event will conclude Saturday, May 25, with the 19th Herbert C. Brown Lecture Series and a birthday banquet.

Brown is internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of synthetic organic chemistry. His research of boron compounds and their chemical reactions revolutionized the low-cost production of medicines and agricultural chemicals. In 1979, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

CONTACT: Professor P. V. Ramachandran, director, Herbert C. Brown Center for Borane Research, (765) 494-5303,; Susan Gaidos, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2081;


Tuesday, May 14. 1:30-3:30 p.m. Stewart Center, Room 302. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Land Use Team will be honored with the 2002 Dean's Team Award. The team also will give a presentation about their programs titled "Seeking Common Ground," and will receive $10,000 to continue outreach efforts. CONTACT: Rick Chase, (317) 736-7842,

• Friday-Saturday, May 17-18. The scientific contributions of Purdue a distinguished professor, William L. Pak, will be highlighted in a special symposium. Former students, research associates and colleagues will gather on the Purdue campus for a series of lectures, scientific presentations, and a banquet to recognize Pak's 70th birthday.

Pak, who is the Paul E. Oreffice Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, is recognized widely for his research on the genetic and molecular basis of vision and on degeneration of the retina with age. His studies focus on how neurons work, and his laboratory was one of the first to take a genetic approach to the study of neuronal mechanisms. His work in molecular genetic studies of Drosophila, or fruit fly, mutants helped scientists identify the genes responsible for retinitis pigmentosa, the most common and serious inherited cause of blindness in humans.

CONTACT: Linda Johnson, Department of Biological Sciences, (765)) 494-4408,; Susan Gaidos, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2081,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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