This year, 2011, the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Alberta celebrated its 50th anniversary. This timeframe covers nearly the entire history of Cys-loop pentameric ligand-gated ion channel (pLGIC) research. In this review we consider how major technological advancements affected our current understanding of pLGICs, and highlight the contributions made by members of our department. The individual at the center of our story is Susan Dunn; her passing earlier this year has robbed the Department of Pharmacology and the research community of a most insightful colleague. Her dissection of ligand interactions with the nAChR, together with their interpretation, was the hallmark of her extensive collaborations with Michael Raftery. Here, we highlight some electrophysiological studies from her laboratory over the last few years, using the technique that she introduced to the department in Edmonton, the 2-electrode voltage-clamp of Xenopus oocytes. Finally, we discuss some single-channel studies of the anionic GlyR and GABA(A)R that prefaced the introduction of this technique to her laboratory.