Dear President Boren,
We live in an age of genomics and biotechnology. Step into any biological research lab, and you’ll learn the importance of being able to sequence and manipulate genetic information. These techniques enable us to answer a variety of questions about the natural world, advance the field of science, and innovate new solutions to problems, such as cures for diseases that plague mankind. However, the progress we have achieved is the result of the hard work conducted by brilliant men and women throughout the history of science, especially in the last century. Their discoveries have paved the way and formed the foundation for future inquiry. The great Isaac Newton once said: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Certainly, our ability to foray further into the unknown is possible because of people like Thomas Hunt Morgan, but these giants obtained their success on the backs of a single group that is often forgotten and passed over: the Drosophila melanogaster, otherwise known as the fruit fly.
These tiny yet mighty organisms were the key to unlocking much of what we know about genetics and development today. Not seeking recognition, countless of these flies allowed themselves to be subjected to scrutiny and discomfort in the name of science. They didn’t ask for that type of life, simply content with their humble lifestyle of feeding on leftover fruit scraps, yet the scientific community has taken advantage of them and thrust them into the position of “model organism.” Because of the Drosophila, many of the basic mechanisms of heredity, including sex-linked inheritance, epistasis, and gene mapping, have been elucidated for us. This has had profound impacts for us as a human race. Our insights into our own physiology and the emergence of bioengineering are the direct results of the study of these organisms. There is not sufficient room in a single letter to describe all of the current technologies and innovations that exist today because of the Drosophila.
Because of their importance, I propose that a life-sized statue of the Drosophila melanogaster be erected on the campus of the University of Oklahoma right next to Richards Hall, the building that has traditionally housed the biology department. A tribute to them has been long overdue, and I think the faculty would agree with me on their significance. While this statue certainly won’t be able to match the countless contributions of the humble fruit fly, at the very least, it will move them from a place of tiny obscurity to one of public visibility.
A biology student at OU