Distinguished professor honored at building baptism ceremony


“Don’t ruin a story by making it too small.”

Distinguished professor at Gordon Niswender University, 1940-2017.

It was something the late Gordon Niswender, distinguished professor at CSU University and an international leader in reproductive biology, was known to say.

Niswender’s colleagues, friends and family gathered on a blustery autumn afternoon to remember and celebrate his legacy and rename the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory building in his honor.

Gordon Niswender’s colleagues, friends and family gathered to remember and celebrate his legacy and rename the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory building in his honor.Photo by Kellen Bakovich / CVMBS Photo

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Gordon for almost 40 years,” said his science partner and longtime friend Terry Nett, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. “When it comes to telling your story, it’s hard to shrink your legacy to a reasonable size.”


Niswender, a former director of ARBL, grew up in Gillette, Wyo., Where summers spent on his grandmother’s ranch inspired his interest in cattle. His first foray into science was predictive of his future success when as a high school student he won the Wyoming State Championship in a Future Farmers of America speech competition for a brucellosis conference. .

He received a BS in Agricultural Education from the University of Wyoming, an MS in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska, and a PhD in Reproductive Endocrinology from the University of Illinois. Niswender began his career as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor at the University of Michigan.

There, he developed the first radioimmunoassay methods that allowed scientists to measure the blood levels of virtually all reproductive hormones in domestic animals. He brought this cutting edge technology to CSU and then shared it with over 600 laboratories in over 40 countries around the world. He was also known for important discoveries related to the cellular and molecular mechanisms of ovarian function in cattle.

Niswender’s career at the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences from 1972 to 2010 has been spent in research, teaching, mentoring and leadership. His many roles included that of Acting Dean, Associate Dean for Research, Director of ARBL and Director of the Equine Sciences Program. He was also among the first group of distinguished university professors at CSU.

Niswender has accumulated numerous awards and honors over the years, including the Pioneer Award at the International Symposium on Ruminant Reproduction and others from the American Society of Animal Science, the Endocrine Society, the Society for the Study. of Reproduction and the UK Society for Fertility. As a founding member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, he was the organization’s youngest president and editor-in-chief of its journal Biology of Reproduction. Niswender’s huge body of work includes over 250 research articles and book chapters that have been collectively cited over 18,000 times.

“Gordon thought it was important for scientists to be able to justify their research to the average person, which is why his research was so relevant and cited so often,” Nett said.

Niswender has also mentored more than 60 interns who have successfully pursued their scientific careers.

“A dominant and internationally known figure in reproductive biology, Gordon was an enthusiastic supporter of good science, lively discussion and unlimited support for interns,” said Barbara Sanborn, professor emeritus in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. “His unique blend of down-to-earth common sense and scientific acumen has made him a legend to those he trained.”

Niswender was known to be a sociable person and for having a tireless work ethic, exemplified by his habit of having lab meetings at 6 a.m. so that he could put family first at night.

“Dr. Niswender was part of my career every step of the way,” said Colin Clay, Acting Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “One of the things he taught me was to do not be too secure – any successful career has to have some level of discomfort. And he always found time to bring people together. When I look back, I really don’t know how he accomplished all he has. did, and what’s really remarkable is that he made it fun.

“Gordon was a figure of stable scientific leadership at CSU,” said former CSU President Tony Frank. “Science advances thanks to people like him. The buildings of a university represent something stable, something that survives generations, and it is a perfect marriage to name this building in his honor.

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