SICB 1999 Fall Newsletter
General Officer Messages
Message from the President
Martin E. Feder
The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology will enter the Year 2000 as a robust, scientifically and educationally important, and sound professional scientific society. The crises of the 1990s are now behind us, and SICB is poised both to assimilate new areas of the life sciences and to share its traditional strengths with other disciplines. The Annual Meeting in Atlanta, January 4-8, 2000, will feature a diverse array of exceptional symposia, more contributed papers and posters than last year's meeting in Denver, and the launch of the new Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (DEDB). Planning for the following Annual Meeting (in Chicago) is already underway, and promises to be an equally exciting event.
If SICB is so strong and successful, why worry about "strategic planning?" Now (rather than when the next crisis arrives) is the time to prepare for the future. The Strategic Planning Group that met in mid-July concluded that SICB needs to grow, both in membership and in the scope of its scientific and educational programs, if it is to prosper in the 21st century. While it does so, however, SICB needs to maintain if not enhance its existing strengths in integrative and comparative biology, and its existing divisions. The report of the Strategic Planning Group recommends five initiatives that will accomplish these goals:
Visit http://pondside.uchicago.edu/~feder/SICB/stratplan8-7.html for the entire report and http://pondside.uchicago.edu/~feder/SICB/stratplan.html for other documents relevant to strategic planning.
As you read the plan, you will see that it is primarily a mandate for initiatives originating with individual members and SICB divisions rather than top-down central planning. It endorses a process in which SICB as a whole periodically reviews these initiatives and, where consensus exists, continues them.
Implementing this recommendation is likely to require a substantial investment of member investment and SICB funds, and may well curtail our ability to pursue other initiatives. Thus, before proceeding, we need to be certain that this plan and each of its components is sound and right for SICB. Indeed, the Strategic Planning Group has no authority to commit SICB to any course of action. That authority lies with you and your representatives on the Executive Committee. For that reason, I urge you to scrutinize this plan and send your comments and suggestions to me, your division chairs, and/or any other member of the Executive Committee. At this moment, we have the freedom to execute this plan as a whole, in part or not at all, and to add other initiatives to it. SICB would greatly benefit from your wisdom. Please let us have your comments as soon as possible. The Executive Committee will meet electronically and consider which proposed or new initiatives (if any) should be developed in detail. Those chosen for detail will be brought forward for comment and approval at the Atlanta meeting.
Some components of the proposed initiatives are so attractive that the Executive Committee has already approved them. For example, the Executive Committee concluded that the non-student registration fee for the Annual Meeting, which was increased precipitously during the financial crisis earlier this decade, now needed to be reduced to be comparable to rates for meetings of other scientific societies. The rate reduction will be implemented for the Atlanta meeting (but ONLY for members who register early). Similarly, the abstract fee for the Atlanta meeting has been reduced to $30. The Executive Committee looks forward to re-examining our entire dues and fees structure and, where warranted, approving additional reductions in the future.
Much of our ability to implement such reductions is linked to our increasing reliance on electronic communications and publication, which is much less expensive than printing and mailing. In so doing, SICB wants neither to lose contact with its membership nor overwhelm them with SICB "spam." Feedback on our first electronic newsletter (Spring 1999) has been generally positive, and I am unaware of significant problems with our first all-electronic abstract submittal and electronic membership application/renewal. On the horizon is electronic publication of the American Zoologist. Please continue to let us know how we are doing.
Other matters arising since the last newsletter:
I hope to see many of you in Atlanta. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me with any SICB issues, ideas, complaints, suggestions, etc. Have a great autumn and holiday season!
Message from the Program Officer
The 2000 SICB Annual Meeting, January 4-8 in Atlanta, is shaping up well and promises to be another great gathering of integrative and comparative biologists. It will open with an address by John C. Avise of the Genetics Department of the University of Georgia entitled "The Genetic Gods - Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs." This is a most appropriate topic for the approaching millennium, when knowledge of genetics will profoundly affect how we do biology and look at our world. Avise's talk will be followed by a welcome reception where we can mix with new and old colleagues and friends.
The Atlanta meeting will feature 11 symposia covering a wide range of topics (see 2000 Annual Meeting Symposia below). Included are a society-wide pair of symposia on plant-animal interactions, marine and terrestrial, which will serve to broaden our involvement with plant biologists. Of special note is the symposium on "Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Paradigms, Problems and Prospects," which will initiate our 11th division, the Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (DEDB).
We received well over 700 abstracts for oral and poster presentations for this meeting, exceeding last year's number and promising to make the Atlanta meeting equal to or larger than our meeting two years ago in Boston. So much for the Y2K scare. The oral presentations are being arranged by topic, with the assistance of the divisional program officers, to produce what we hope will result in a coherent, rich and exciting set of sessions every day. Divisional affiliations will be identified in the program for all the papers, with some oral session topics being essentially divisional. So, divisional representation will remain as strong as ever.
In addition to the Student/Postdoc workshop, there will be at least two other workshops. The "University of the 21st Century" will bring together a panel of educators and administrators to discuss the changes we will likely see in the early part of the next century and how we might deal with them. On another level, "Systematics for Dummies" should prove valuable for many of those still relatively unfamiliar with this now essential tool for comparative biology.
We are pleased the American Microscopical Society, Animal Behavior Society, and The Crustacean Society will again join us at the Atlanta meeting. In addition, it is a pleasure to welcome the International Society for Invertebrate Reproduction and Development and the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology. Both of these societies are co-sponsoring symposia as well, and we hope this is the beginning of a continuing, mutually beneficial relationship with them.
I look forward to joining you in Atlanta to welcome in the last year of our current calendar's second millennium. See you there.
SICB Annual Meeting Symposia
The 2000 SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta will feature 11 symposia on a diverse range of topics. The following is a brief look at each one.
Wednesday, January 5
Antarctic Marine Biology
The unique environment of Antarctica supports a rich and diverse marine life that has attracted the attention of many of our members. This symposium will highlight recent work on community dynamics, energetics and thermal adaptation of this biota, with an eye toward future research. Organized by Jim McClintock and Charles Amsler, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Bill Baker, Florida Institute of Technology.
Intermittent Locomotion: Integrating the Physiology, Biomechanics and Behavior of Repeated Activity
The primary goal of this symposium is to initiate an integrated approach to the study of nonsteady-state locomotion. Such research will advance previous paradigms based on steady-state locomotion, which is the next logical step in the development of a general theory of activity in swimming, running and flying animals. Organized by Randi B. Weinstein, University of Arizona and Robert J. Full, University of California, Berkeley.
Nitric Oxide in the Invertebrates: Comparative Physiology and Diverse Functions
Nitric oxide is a simple molecule that plays diverse and significant roles in cellular and organismal functions, as revealed in the past decade. Most work has been done on vertebrates, but within the last few years distinctive functional themes have emerged from studies on invertebrates. These findings will be explored with this symposium. Organized by Esther M. Leise, University of North Carolina Greensboro and Henry Trapido-Rosenthal, Bermuda Biological Station for Research.
Thursday, January 6
Beyond Reconstruction: Using Phylogenies to Test Hypotheses about Vertebrate Evolution
The recent explosion of phylogenies generated from gene-sequence data and new discoveries in vertebrate fossils puts us in the position to make tremendous strides in our understanding of the patterns and processes of evolutionary transformation. This symposium will present new insights into these patterns in vertebrates as implied by their phylogeny. Organized by Donald Swiderski, University of Michigan.
Osmoregulation: An Integrated Approach
New experimental approaches on cell signaling and cytoskeletal function, and cloning relevant proteins and genes, are beginning to unravel the mechanisms of osmoregulations in a wide variety of groups. These studies will be brought together in this symposium, incorporating overviews on organisms not typically represented at SICB, particularly bacteria, yeast and plants. Organized by David W. Towle, Lake Forest College and Joan D. Ferraris, National Institutes of Health.
Thursday-Friday, January 6-7
An Integrative Approach to the Studies of Terrestrial Plant-Animal Interactions
Studies of terrestrial plant-animal interactions have been a vital part of ecology for several decades, but have approached the subject from different perspectives. This symposium will bring together speakers from diverse, specialized subdisciplines to begin to integrate these perspectives. Moreover, by alternating the sessions of this symposium with those of the following symposium over two days, we hope to help integrate studies in terrestrial and marine systems. Organized by Peter D. Smallwood, University of Richmond and May Berenbaum, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.
New Approaches to Studies of Marine Plant-Animal Interactions
This symposium will help rejuvenate the study of plant-animal interactions in marine environments, both by presenting exciting new approaches and by its close association with the symposium on these interactions in terrestrial systems. Organized by Dianna Padilla, State University of New York, Stony Brook and Kathy Van Alstyne, Western Washington University.
Friday, January 7
Hom/Hox Clusters and the Evolution of Morphology
Clustered Hox/Hom gene complexes coordinate animal development in time and space. The tremendous increase in new data on them over the past three years for will be brought together by speakers of this symposium to enhance our understanding of gene regulation, development, morphology and evolution. A wide variety of animals will be studied. Organized by Billie J. Swalla, University of Washington and Jeffrey L. Ram, Wayne State University.
Recent Progress in Crustacean Endocrinology: A Symposium in Honor of Milton Fingerman
Milt Fingermans contributions to the field of crustacean endocrinology and the education of scientists in the field are immense. This symposium will honor him by presenting recent advances in crustacean endocrinology as more and more crustacean genes are cloned, revealing evolutionary and functional relationships. Organized by Penny M. Hopkins, University of Oklahoma and David Borst, Illinois State University.
Saturday, January 8
Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Paradigms, Problems and Prospects
This symposium will inaugurate SICBs new Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (DEDB). It will both re-examine the work of biologists in this area in the last century and highlight the exciting new advances that make possible a modern synthesis of molecular, developmental and evolutionary processes at the end of this century. Organized by Richard M. Burian, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Scott F. Gilbert, Swarthmore College and Billie J. Swalla, University of Washington.
Swimming in Opisthobranch Mollusks: Contributions to Control of Motor Behavior
Mollusks, especially opisthobranchs, have contributed as much to the field of neural control of motor behavior as any other animal group, vertebrate or invertebrate. This symposium will consider how work on these animals has enhanced our knowledge of rhythmic motor systems, motor system function and motor control systems with the intent of fueling speculation about conserved circuitry, convergent similarities and phylogenetic relationships. Organized by Richard A. Satterlie, Arizona State University.
Message from the Treasurer
Kimberly G. Smith
SICB will end the millennium in fine financial condition. There are several reasons for this recent financial success. The most significant of these is the mutual agreement to discontinue the publication of Integrative Biology. The society had committed a large part of its available resources to this endeavor, but sufficient interest in the journal did not materialize to justify our continued support. Also, some of the society's businesses were moved into the electronic communication realm, such as offering this newsletter online, further reducing costs. Additional savings will be possible as more opportunities arise to take advantage of e-mail and the society's homepage. A third source of savings was achieved through a commitment by the Financial Committee and our business office to approve a budget that would produce a modest profit. This financial "belt tightening" was probably overdue, as every line item in the budget of the society was scrutinized as to need and cost.
With the society's improved financial condition, it is now time to reward those of you that stuck with us through the tough years of the early 90's. We are now taking steps that should, over the next few years, decrease the cost of attending the Annual Meeting, presenting a paper at the Annual Meeting and belonging to the society. For the upcoming meeting in Atlanta, we were committed to decreasing the cost of full-member registration to below $200, which we did. We are also committed to reducing, if not eliminating, the abstract fee, and have already decreased the amount by $5 for the Atlanta meeting. An analysis that was conducted by the president of the society suggests that the annual dues for a full member should be in the range of $80 and we are committed to decreasing dues with that goal in mind. How fast that goal can be reached will be discussed at the Executive Committee meeting this January in Atlanta.
These goals could all be achieved much sooner and much more easily if the society could increase its membership. We now have over 2000 members, which is about 50% of the size of the society in its heyday. I think that it behooves us all to encourage colleagues, postdocs and current and former students to join SICB.
Currently more than 50% of the society's income comes from sales of the American Zoologist, with only two other major sources of income -- members' dues and revenue associated with the Annual Meeting. However, since the Annual Meeting currently runs at a deficit in excess of $100,000, the only real sources of income are the journal and dues. To me, this is a precarious position, and steps need to be taken to reestablish SICB's endowment and eventually invest the society's money in something other than money market certificates, which the society has been doing for the past few years.
Given our financial position, a strategic planning meeting was held this summer to plan for the future. That meeting reaffirmed the commitment to reduction of fees to members as mentioned above, but it also identified new areas where the society should be expanding, such as education, information dissemination and reaching out to our foreign colleagues. It is certainly exciting to believe that the society has recovered enough to start planning expansion of programs. However, continued success will only happen if the society continues to grow in size and diversifies its sources of revenue.
Opportunity to Obtain Back Issues of American Zoologist for Almost Free!
In an effort to reduce member costs and fees still further, the SICB Business Office has been scrutinizing SICB expenses. One surprisingly large and ongoing expense has been the cost of renting space for storage of back issues of the American Zoologist. Last year the Business Office decided to reduce this cost in three phases. First, excess back issues were offered for sale at a greatly reduced price. Now we are announcing that remaining back issues are available for the cost of shipping and handling. After this phase ends, all remaining back issues will be recycled. To obtain back issues for the cost of shipping and handling, please click here or contact the Business Office at 800/955-1236.
Message From the Secretary
Thomas G. Wolcott
It has been said that many kinds of information must be used to draw phylogenetic conclusions. "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and has a severe limp, it's a lame duck." I deeply resemble that remark! It has been my honor to serve as SICB secretary for the last few years, and perhaps in a few more I might have gotten the hang of it. Now, however, capable hands will accede to the office-those of Penny Hopkins, who has my best wishes and offer of any useful efforts I can contribute.
It is that magical time of year when many of us have submitted abstracts for the Annual Meeting, and are going back over them in wonderment. "I promised to present WHAT?? I've got to get the [literature review, data, statistics, graphics] finished pronto!!" One of the salubrious corollaries of moving the meetings to the first week of January is that we won't be going back to the lab to finish things up on Christmas afternoon or evening. Instead, we'll arrive in Atlanta refreshed and poised to plunge into the meetings with verve, since the last-minute preparations on the night before our travel didn't coincide with a family holiday.
And what a meeting it promises to be! The list of symposia once again highlights what a diverse society we are, ranging from genes to whole-animal physiology to behavior to ecology. This is the place to come to find out what's going on across the spectrum of biology, and why other folks think it's interesting, and what significance it has to our personal specialties. For me, meetings of SICBTSFKAASZ (you may puzzle that out at your leisure) have always been mind-expanding experiences. As our Society's name implies, we come together to find out "what there is to know and how it all fits together," more than just "here's all there is to know right now about this little facet of biology." We come to get our intellectual appetites whetted, to see new connections and to make sense of more of the natural world than our own corner. There are precious few such opportunities in a world where so many biologists feel "We can afford to go only to our specialty meetings because that's where we'll hear the latest stuff in our area!"
I look forward, as every year, to the depressurization that occurs once I can't do anything more on my SICB paper, and thereafter to browsing the intellectual smorgasbord, finding out what old friends are up to now and meeting new colleagues with whom to share ideas and enthusiasm. Indeed, although it has been a pleasure to serve as an officer, I will be very pleased to once again have more time at the meetings for those all-important pursuits. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the life of SICB. I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!
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