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Juniata Biologist to Talk on Comic Book Text Project

(Posted January 19, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Jay Hosler, associate professor of biology at Juniata College, will talk about his 2007-2008 sabbatical and how he used that time to conceive and complete "Optical Allusions," an experimental sensory biology text written as a comic book at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture, "Brains, Beetles and Buckets of Bristol: A Sabbatical Report," is free and open to the public. The Bookend Seminar series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Hosler recently released a 128-page chapter (in book form) of a proposed textbook called "Optical Allusions." The text tells the story of a comic hero, Wrinkles the Wonder Brain, as he travels back in time and wanders through his own imagination to teach readers how vision evolved.

The comic book text also features short essays, written by Hosler, providing lessons and explanations of such principles as genetics, eye structures, color vision, sexual selection and evolution.
Hosler received a National Science Foundation grant for $46,500 in 2005 to produce one chapter of a proposed larger comics-based textbook. He took a sabbatical the following year to write the book, which became "Optical Allusions." Hosler will test the new textbook in a series of classroom trials beginning next year. The finished chapter will be tested at two or three colleges or universities to evaluate its effectiveness as a teaching tool.

Hosler has published two previous biology graphic novels, "Clan Apis," about the life cycle of the honeybee, and "The Sandwalk Adventures," which told the story of a follicle mite living in the eyebrow of Charles Darwin.

Hosler came to Juniata in 1999 from Ohio State University's Rothenbuhler Honey Bee Research Laboratory where he was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow. At Juniata he received the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2005. He was promoted to associate professor in 2006.


He earned a bachelor's degree in 1989 from DePauw University. Hosler earned his doctorate in 1995 in biological sciences from the University of Notre Dame.

As a postdoctoral researcher, Hosler was awarded a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health to study olfactory processing in honeybees. He has also garnered national recognition for his work as a cartoonist and in 1998 received a Xeric Grant to publish "Clan Apis."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.