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Legends & Legacies Event

A night honoring distinguished alumni and educators

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at Riverside Golf Club
5:30 pm Cocktails  |  6:30 pm Dinner


Hall of Honor

The Hall of Honor, inaugurated in 1983, recognizes Grand Island Senior High School alumni
who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the betterment of society.


Thomas H. Meedel, Ph.D.

Class of 1967
Hall of Honor 2024

Dr. Meedel moved to Grand Island from North Platte when he was five years old.  He attended elementary school at West Lawn and Wasmer, then Barr Junior High, and Grand Island Senior High. After high school he studied at Nebraska Wesleyan University, graduating in 1971with honors in Biology, and receiving the Gold Key for scholastic achievement his senior year.  He then joined the Army National Guard and spent four months in basic training and advanced infantry training in California at Fort Ord.  During the spring of 1972, as a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, he accepted a fellowship to the Ph.D. program in Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He completed his Ph.D. in 1977 under the direction of Dr. Elliot M. Levine.

Dr. Meedel then began a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Developmental Biology with Dr. J. Richard Whittaker at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia, PA studying embryogenesis of the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis.  Commonly called “sea-squirts”, ascidians are part of a group of invertebrates [the Tunicates] that are the closest living relatives of vertebrates.  This makes them ideal for studying fundamental questions of Developmental Biology that may also be of relevance to vertebrates.  These questions have been the focus of Dr. Meedel’s research, and he has made several important contributions to molecular, cellular, and development biology.  Results of his studies include: demonstrating that ascidian development relies on mRNA synthesis as it does in other organisms; showing that ascidian muscle development is regulated by two distinct mechanisms, not one as previously believed; finding that systems of muscle classification based on ultrastructure alone are invalid; reinvigorating the field of splice-leader trans-splicing by showing that most ascidian mRNAs undergo this process; and discovering that, like vertebrates but not invertebrates, expression of the Myogenic Regulatory Factor gene is essential for muscle development in sea squirts.

Dr. Meedel’s research with sea squirts began at the Wistar Institute [1977-80], and continued at The Boston University Marine Program [1980-85] and then at the Laboratory of Developmental Genetics [1985-1992], both located at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.  From 1992 until 2020 Dr. Meedel continued his research and teaching as a member of the Biology Department at Rhode Island College, in Providence, RI, where in 2006 he was awarded the Martha & Ronald Ballinger Award for Distinguished & Sustained Scholarship & Creative Activity.  He has also conducted research as a visiting scientist at Caltech [1985], The Mayo Clinic Scottsdale [1994-2001], and The Laboratory of Developmental Biology in Villefranche-sur mer, France [2003-06], and has lectured throughout the US, and in Canada, France, Italy, and Japan.  His work has been supported by funding organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the American Philosophical Society, Rhode Island College, the Mayo Clinic, and the French Centre National de Resources Biologiques Marine. 

At Rhode Island College Dr. Meedel was privileged to mentor over 30 research students and to teach a variety of courses in addition to his specialty, Developmental Biology.  These included: Introductory Biology for Majors, Graduate Seminar, and Human Anatomy, as well as regular guest lectures in Evolution.  He resides in Attleboro, MA with his wife and best friend, Jane Loescher.  Despite his peripatetic career, Dr. Meedel has always thought of himself as just a boy from Grand Island.


You are invited to attend the celebration.

Join the GIPS Foundation for an extraordinary event, Legends & Legacies. The Foundation is dedicated to honoring distinguished Grand Island Senior High Alumni to the Hall of Honor and celebrating our Legendary Educators. This event is a celebration of the remarkable individuals who have not only walked the hallowed halls of education but have also left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those they have touched. Join us as we celebrate these extraordinary alumni and the passionate educators. Legends & Legacies welcomes you to an evening of celebration, reflection, and recognition of those who have shaped the future through their commitment to knowledge and the pursuit of greatness.



Thank you to the Legends & Legacies sponsors. We appreciate you and your support of Grand Island Public Schools excellence.

© 2024 Grand Island Public Schools Foundation

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