MDI Biological Laboratory
General News

This Is Why: Chuck Dinsmore, Ph.D.

  • November 10, 2021

Chuck Dinsmore has devoted his life to curiosity, discovery and fostering a love of science in others. 

From serving as a full professor at the School of Medicine and in the Graduate College, a part of Rush University at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, to teaching high school biology at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, Maine, to sharing his knowledge as a Maine Master Naturalist at the Hidden Valley Nature Center — Chuck finds joy in sharing science. As a member of the John S. Kingsley Society at MDI Biological Laboratory, Chuck has ensured that nurturing curious minds is part of his legacy.

Chuck’s love for science began in childhood but blossomed during his time at Bowdoin College where he received his A.B. in Biology. It was during his undergraduate studies that he began his research on salamander limb regeneration and met Dr. Richard Goss, a major figure in developmental biology and regeneration. He joined the Goss lab at Brown University to continue to expand his studies in the field.

After receiving his Ph.D. from Brown, Chuck accepted a teaching position in Boston as an assistant professor. Goss, a visiting scientist at the MDI Biological Laboratory, suggested that Chuck apply for a summer research fellowship at MDIBL in order to continue his research in regeneration. Six years as a visiting scientist at MDIBL cemented Chuck’s respect for the lab’s mission of research and education. “MDIBL’s research program brings together world-class scientists with diverse skills and interests and at the same time, provides students at all levels with the opportunity to experience the process of science first-hand. For me, a critical part of ‘who we are’ is and has been the dedicated outreach to, and engagement with, the general public,” he says, adding with a smile “And it doesn’t hurt that the lab now prioritizes regeneration research using axolotls.”

Later in life, Chuck authored A History of Regeneration Research: The Evolution of a Science, offering an analysis of discoveries in regeneration research and examining the social, historical, and philosophical contexts of the major milestones in this field of biology. Considered among the best histories of its kind, the book has been praised for its importance not only to developmental biologists but to historians of science also. In his tome, Chuck acknowledges the lineage of scientific discovery and how progress is made possible by the work that came before. The critical importance of the larger scientific community is one that motivates Chuck to remain involved with MDIBL. “For me, the deep history of the lab’s cutting-edge scientific contributions (and associated scholars!) has strong appeal. It correlates with my longstanding intellectual curiosity, which was nurtured by my early experiences at the MDIBL, its community, scientific and social/familial,” he explains. “Moreover, it underscores the deep connection between world-class science and real people.”

This year, Chuck formalized his support of MDI Biological Laboratory through a planned gift.  His belief in the lab’s continuing success moved him to share the news of his generous intentions: “The projects, goals and vision that Hermann and Iain have outlined, along with their strong leadership, provide me with great confidence in the lab’s continuing success. Backed by a staff with a remarkable talent for translating the direction and importance of the lab’s work to the general public, the long-term stature of the MDI Biological Laboratory on the world stage looks bright!”

MDI Biological Laboratory remains a world-class education and biomedical research institution due in large part to donors like Chuck — and our phenomenal community of scientists, students, staff, alumni and friends.

We are deeply grateful to Chuck and to all our supporters for helping ensure that MDIBL continues to foster a love of science in future generations.