The Yale community gathered June 7th at the Yale West Campus Conference Center to celebrate colleague Günter Wagner, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary biology at Yale, as the centerpiece of the 2023 Systems Biology Institute Symposium. Colleagues and friends enjoyed a captivating day of science talks and personal tributes from a host of former students, faculty colleagues, international research partners, and senior University leaders, culminating in a celebration reception to mark Wagner’s retirement from Yale. As the first faculty member to relocate to the West Campus in 2010, Wagner holds a unique place in the story of Yale’s western base. In its earliest days, the 135-acre campus was eerily deserted with much work yet to be done, and colleagues recalled Wagner’s instinctive vision for what the place could be. Today’s West Campus is home to a vibrant and successful scientific community of some 1600 faculty, students, and staff – in no small part thanks to Günter Wagner’s bold decision to move here. In addition to being the inaugural chair of his department, the native Austrian was instrumental in creating the Systems Biology Institute, which today boasts numerous faculty and trainees exploring the complex interactions and organizational principles that unite living systems, from molecules to whole organisms. While paying a strong hand in establishing interdisciplinarity as a hallmark of the West Campus, Wagner’s own research success was fueled by the innovative climate of the Institute along with his own scholarly resolve that “nothing is worth spending time on if it doesn’t involve new and productive work.” His lab’s groundbreaking studies of mammalian evolution uncovered genetic commonality between the biology of pregnancy and cancer metastasis, advancing our understanding of human cancer and fundamentally changing how we think about the evolution of higher organisms. In a research career that also discovered the developmental basis of character identity - for instance in the case of digit identity of birds - Wagner has been recognized by numerous awards. He received the MacArthur Fellowship for research on the developmental basis of homology and in 1997 he was elected both to become corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.