Spring 2021: Division of Comparative Endocrinology

Message from the Chair

Kathleen Hunt, chair.dce@sicb.org

I hope you were all able to attend the SICB virtual meeting this year. I think opinion is universal that despite the new and unfamiliar format, the virtual format was a great success. Talks were well attended, and I was truly impressed with the quality of the research and the polished nature of the presentations. Though we all missed getting to interact with each other in person, we enjoyed many features of the new format, such as the ability to watch talks that we might otherwise have had to miss, and increased participation from international students and speakers. We hope to continue some elements of the new format in the future.

Highlights of the 2021 meeting for DCE include: 

Ela Hau with Bern Award plaque

Bern Lecture. Our Bern lecturer this year was Prof. Dr. Michael Hau, who gave a wonderful, and very well-attended, virtual talk titled, “Hormone-mediated plasticity: is there an optimal hormonal phenotype?” I found it a wonderful discussion of possible hormonal phenotypes and how hormonal responses interact with fitness, with particularly fascinating insights about reaction norms, different types of hormone-trait relationships, and the role of plasticity. However, we all terribly missed the opportunity to meet with Ela in person – hopefully we will all be able to see each other again in the near future.

Best Student Presentations. Our two annual competitions for Best Student Talk and Best Student Poster were particularly intense this year. All divisions kicked off the meeting on day 1 with best student talk sessions, and all were very well attended; the DCE poster competition then had extended judging over several more weeks to allow all of our volunteer judges the time to meet with multiple students. In total, 15 students participated in these two DCE competitions. The winner of the Aubrey Gorbman Best Student Oral Presentation was Grascen Shidemantle, and the winner of the Lynn Riddiford Best Student Poster was Carley Lowe. Congratulations to both students for their excellent research and fine presentations! Special thanks to all of our hardworking volunteer judges as well.

Symposia. DCE co-sponsored 4 symposia at the 2021 meeting: Blinded By The Light, Biology Beyond The Classroom, Sending And Receiving Signals, and Manakin Genomics. All of these symposia reached across division lines and brought together a great mix of speakers from different fields of biology. Start thinking about symposia for 2023! (Remember, symposia must be planned more than a year in advance.)

Other meeting activities. DCE Student/Post-doc Representative Carla Madelaire once again organized the “(Virtual) Lunch With A Comparative Endocrinologist” mentor/mentee matching event, as well as our annual DCE Data Blitz social media effort for this year’s meeting. Impressively, the Data Blitz had even greater participation this year than last year, and both events were a great success. Our thanks to Carla for continuing these two events focused on enhancing the experience of DCE students and postdocs.

 Changes in DCE officers. At the end of this year’s extended meeting, Brian Walker and Timothy Greives stepped down as DCE Program Officer and DCE Secretary, respectively. Sara O’Brien is DCE’s new Program Officer and Christine Lattin is DCE’s new Secretary (while I, Kathleen Hunt, continue as DCE Chair for one more year). We are very grateful to Brian and Tim for their tireless efforts, particularly this year when stress was high, workloads just as high, and everything so much more complicated than usual. I have to extend special thanks to Brian for staying on as Program Officer a year longer than he originally expected (due to DCE’s recent vote to extend the term of his position) — especially given that the extra year turned out to involve organizing a new and complex virtual meeting!

Upcoming elections. This summer, DCE members will vote to elect a new DCE Chair-Elect and a new DCE Secretary-Elect. Please watch your email for announcements about the election, and vote when election time rolls around – we need your input!

Next Student/Postdoc Representative. We are also searching for the next Student/Postdoctoral Representative to succeed Carla Madelaire, who will step down at the end of the Phoenix, AZ meeting in January 2022. This is not an elected position, so graduate students and postdocs can self-nominate simply by sending a letter of interest to the DCE Chair (me) at the email address above.

Other business. When the pandemic hit, DCE officers were just about to launch surveys and discussions regarding possible rebranding or re-naming of DCE, including an associated discussion of the annual $10 fee charged to DCE members (the fee is a requirement of DCE’s membership in the International Federation of Comparative Endocrinology Societies). Due to the pandemic and highly increased workloads and stress, we had to postpone these discussions. However, we hope to return to these issues later this year – please stay tuned. In the meantime, if any of you have thoughts on the future of DCE and what trajectory you would like DCE to take, please contact me or any of the DCE officers. This is your division, and we want to make it work for you, and make sure our division has a vibrant future ahead!

FUTURE MEETINGS. We are dearly hoping to be able to convene in person in January 2022 for the Phoenix meeting. This means that now is the time to think about Bern speakers for Phoenix. The Bern nomination committee has an existing list of nominees, but you can still add to the list. And yes, you can self-nominate! Contact any DCE officer for details. We also wish to encourage symposium ideas for Austin in 2023. We would particularly like to encourage symposia that reach across SICB division lines, or that cover taxa or topics not being studied by current DCE leadership. Symposia are a great opportunity to pull together speakers who might not otherwise interact with each other – and remember, all SICB symposia result in publications in the SICB journal Integrative and Comparative Biology. Contact any DCE officer if you have symposium ideas.

I wish you all a safe and healthy 2021, and hope we will all get to see each other again, fully vaccinated, in Phoenix next year!

In memory of Dr. Richard Jones. We are saddened to relay the news that long-time ASZ/SICB and DCE member Dr. Richard E. Jones, 80, passed away on February 23, 2021, after a six-month battle with dementia.  A celebration of Dr. Jones’ life will be conducted sometime after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. If any DCE member should wish to contact Dr. Jones’ family, please get in touch with the DCE chair (chair.dce@sicb.org) for the family’s contact information.


Remembering Dr. Richard Evan Jones

David O. Norris

 Professor Richard Evan Jones, May 13, 1940-February 23, 2021

Dick Jones was born in California and appropriately received his BA, MA, and PhD in comparative endocrinology at the University of California, Berkeley, under the direction of Professor Howard Bern in 1968.  After a short stint at the Hershey Medical School in Pennsylvania, Dick joined the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1970 as an Assistant Professor of Biology where he taught Human Anatomy and Vertebrate Reproduction until his retirement in 1998.  He was then elected Professor Emeritus by the Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology (currently the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). Dick’s dream as a new professor was to do research in comparative endocrinology and surround himself with graduate students. And he succeeded in both. His goal in both teaching and research was to get students to think “outside the box” and formulate hypotheses to explain things in the natural world and design sound experiments to test those hypotheses. He received an “Excellence in Teaching Award” from the College of Arts and Sciences for his efforts. Dick was happiest when he had made a new hypothesis himself and could test it with innovative experimental designs.  And he did this not only in science but in his favorite avocation, fly fishing. During his career he mentored many graduate students and numerous undergraduate students in his Laboratory of Comparative Reproduction. He published more than 150 scientific journal articles and book chapters dealing with fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and birds and two important scientific books (RE Jones 1978, The Ovary (Plenum Press) and Hormones and Reproduction in Fishes, Amphibians, and Reptiles (Norris DO and RE Jones, 1987, Plenum Press, still being cited today).  Additionally, he wrote a successful textbook Human Reproduction (RE Jones and KH Lopez, 4th edition, Academic Press, 2013).  His research in lizard gynecology was supported by numerous grants from NIH. During his academic career Dick was an active member of the Division of Comparative Endocrinology of the American Society of Zoology (ASZ) that later became the Society for Integrative and Comparative Endocrinology (SICB).  He was a valuable contributor to the Western Regional Conferences on Comparative Endocrinology that met regularly from 1964-2006.

Dick died at the age of 80 after a six-month battle with dementia. Unfortunately, he did not go as he had often wished: face-down in a trout stream with a fish on his line.  He is survived by his devoted wife, Betty, and four sons: Christopher Jones, Peter Jones, Ryan Hibberd and Evan Jones.  His wry humor and quick wit as well as his scientific acumen are deeply missed by all who knew him.


Message from the Program Officer

Sara O’Brien. DPO.DCE@sicb.org

Here’s hoping this finds you and yours safe and healthy. #SICB2021 was a much different experience than usual due to the ongoing pandemic. While we have always prided ourselves on the welcoming environment the annual SICB conference provides – the ability to catch up with colleagues and friends, to provide students with a safe and encouraging space to present their work, often for the first time – this year we found ourselves navigating a virtual conference.

I want to offer a BIG thanks to all who attended the various real time virtual meeting components from January through February. Thank you also to those who watched presentations and offered kind, constructive, and critical feedback to presenters asynchronously. The common theme that remained through this year’s conference was the excellent quality of both talks and posters! Hopefully we will be able to convene and catch up with each other in person next year, but for now a hardy congrats to all presenters and attendees in successfully navigating the new virtual environment.

I would also like to thank my colleague, former advisor, and friend, Dr. Michaela Hau, for giving an enlightening Howard Bern Lecture. Her presentation, “Hormone-mediated phenotypic plasticity: is there an optimal hormonal phenotype?” took a long view and stimulated us all to think about this question in our work going forward.

 As mentioned by the Chair, I would also like to congratulate the two winners of the DCE student competitions. The Aubrey Gorbam Best Oral Presentation was awarded to Grascen Shidemantel from Binghamton University, and the Lynn Riddiford Award for Best Student Poster was awarded to Carley Lowe from Northern Arizona University. Many thanks to all of the judges who attended this year’s student talks and visited the posters. Choosing only two winners from all of these excellent presentations was very difficult. 

The 2022 SICB Conference in sunny Phoenix, Arizona will be here before we know it. Please check the SICB website and the “Upcoming meetings” tab for more information on the exciting DCE sponsored and co-sponsored symposia. For anyone who is thinking about organizing a symposium for the 2023 meeting in Austin, TX, please note that proposals will be due in August 2021. We look forward to seeing all of your faces in person, and until then, please stay safe and healthy!


Message from the Secretary

Christine Lattin, secretary.DCE@sicb.org

 Hi everyone! I am taking over from Tim Grieves, who did a terrific job as DCE Secretary for the last two years. Thanks so much to Tim for his service to the Division!

 Even though we couldn’t all be together in Washington, DC, it was still wonderful to see so much exciting new work from DCE Members at the virtual meeting. I spent two months bingeing on all of your cool science, which was frankly pretty awesome to be able to do. I hope you enjoyed the conference too, and here’s hoping that next year we can do it in person.

 DCE election season is ahead of us, and this year we have elections for DCE Chair-elect and Secretary-elect. We are very lucky to have two excellent candidates for both open positions. Please read their biographies and candidate statements and take a few moments to cast your ballot when the time comes. Everyone who was a member at the time of the Annual Meeting is eligible to vote.

 Don’t forget to keep up with us on social media – DCE has a Facebook group and a Twitter account (@SICB_DCE). Both of these are great ways to stay updated about divisional happenings, including Q&As of endocrinology-related questions and finding out about new publications, job openings, and funding opportunities relevant to DCE members.

If you have any announcements you would like included in the SICB monthly member update, please email me at the address above by the 5th of the month.

Here are some other upcoming meetings you might be interested in attending. Because most these will be virtual, this might be a good opportunity to check out a new conference with minimum fuss and no hotel or travel expenses:

  • Canadian Society of Zoologists Annual Meeting, May 17-21, 2021, virtual format. 
  • North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology (NASCE), May 25–27 2021, virtual format. 
  • Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Annual Meeting, June 28–July 2, 2021, virtual format.
  • Evolution Meetings, June 21–25, 2021, virtual format.
  • Society for Experimental Biology, June 28–July 8, 2021, virtual format.
  • Animal Behavior Society Annual Meeting, August 3–6, 2021, virtual format.
  • Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting: November 13-17, Chicago, IL. Abstract submission dates: July 6-15, 2021.

 Please stay safe everyone, and best of luck with your personal and professional endeavors this spring and summer!


Message from the Student/Post-doctoral Af­fairs Committee Representative

Carla B. Madelaire, carla.madelaire@unlv.edu

Hello students and post-docs, I hope everyone enjoyed this great SICB virtual meeting! Although I missed the in-person interactions, I liked the “Netflix” format because it gave me a chance to see all the presentations I was interested in (something that is usually never possible). Despite the unusual meeting format, we still held our traditional “Lunch with a Comparative Endocrinologist” event virtually. Thank you to the 10 mentors that shared their time and experience and the 29 mentees that participated! I hope this event gave everyone the opportunity to network and enjoy some informal conversation about careers, life, and science.  

I would also like to congratulate the winner of the Aubrey Gorbman Award, Grascen Shidemantle, and the winner of the Lynn Riddiford Award, Carley Lowe. All students competing for these awards showed us excellent science and polished presentations, which made the judges’ decisions very difficult. I also want to thank all the students that sent me materials for the Data Blitz. It was much more fun to tweet about science using the awesome videos and images you prepared!

Some other highlights of the 2021 SICB virtual meeting for me were the symposium Sending and Receiving Signals: Endocrine Modulation of Social Communication, where I learned how hormones and social communication interact in different taxa, and the sessions Endocrine Stress I and II, which provided an awesome opportunity to learn about some of the new studies in this area. The meeting also featured some remarkable workshops for students and post-docs, including “Scientific Publishing for Early Career Scientists” organized by Dr. John R. Hutchinson, and “Transferable Skills in Academic and Non-Academic Careers” offered by the Student-Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC).

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @SICB_DCE and to join the DCE Facebook group SICB Division of Comparative Endocrinology. Throughout the year, please tag us in your posts and tweets when you share your research, papers, grants, post-doctoral or student opportunities, or other news. I would be happy to feature your research on DCE social media. SICB also provides an amazing list of External Grant & Fellowship Opportunities for Students and Postdocs, which can be accessed through the “For Students” tab on the SICB website. If you have any suggestions that could improve the ways I represent DCE students and post-docs, please contact me at the email address above.


Candidates for Chair

Jamie Cornelius 

Jamie Cornelius

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University.

Education: PhD, Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis (2009).

Professional Experience: Post-doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology (2009-2014). I have since held positions at universities with diverse student communities and teaching or research missions as a part-time Instructor at CSU-Monterey Bay and an Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University before landing at Oregon State.

SICB Activities: I have been a continuous SICB member since I started graduate school in 2001. I greatly value SICB’s investment in students, and have participated in numerous student mentorship programs and post-doctoral job panels over the years, and served as a student competition judge in both DCE and DAB every year that I have been eligible.

Other Memberships: I serve on the scientific advisory committee for the International Society of Avian Endocrinology, and frequently participate in the Animal Behavior Society, the American Ornithological Society, and the International Bio-Logging Society meetings.

Research Interests: My research is highly integrative – I investigate behavioral, neuroendocrine, and metabolic responses to unpredictable environmental change. Much of my work uses a nomadic, opportunistic finch, the red crossbill, to investigate a wide array of behavioral and physiological responses to food instability. I use both field and captive approaches and thus have wide appreciation for different approaches to endocrine-related research.

Goals Statement: Serving as the DCE Chair would be my first elected service position in SICB. I would work to promote programs that enrich the student SICB experience and increase the diversity and size of DCE membership. I agree that the membership fee for DCE may be prohibitive for student membership and may stifle growth and diversity within our division, and I support the polling effort of the DCE community about this issue. I also believe that a hybrid conference format can preserve the in-person experience that many of us hold dear, increase participation for those with financial or travel-related barriers, and help to make the SICB conference more sustainable. I would work with members towards a vision of what a successful hybrid format might look like for future SICB meetings. Finally, I would work with the other DCE officers and inspired volunteers to continue the tradition of fun science events at the DCE social, which simultaneously highlight our division’s scientific progress and the vibrant and lively community that is SICB’s DCE.  

Greg Demas 

Greg Demas

Current Position: Professor and Chair, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Program, Department of Biology, Indiana University.

Education: B.A., Psychology, Millersville University (1991); M.S., Experimental Psychology, Villanova University (1993); Ph.D., Biopsychology, Johns Hopkins University (1998).  

Professional Experience: Post-doc, Biology, Georgia State University (1998-2001); Professor, Biology (2001- ); Associate Editor, American Naturalist, Journal of Experimental Zoology A, International Journal of Zoology; Editorial Board, Hormones and Behavior; Secretary, Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (2011-13); Co-author of ~140 peer-reviewed journal articles within the field of comparative endocrinology. Co-editor, special issue on “Immune-Neuroendocrine Interactions: Implications for Integrative and Comparative Biologists” in Hormones and Behavior (2016) and “A Brain for All Seasons (2021).

SICB Activities: Member (2001-present); Judge (DAB, DCE, DEDE), DAB Chair candidate (2016); DEDE Program Officer (2017-19); Co-organizer of SICB symposia in 2011 and 2014; symposium speaker (2011, 2014, 2016).

Other Memberships: Animal Behavior Society; Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology, American Physiological Society.

Research Interests: The primary goal of my laboratory’s research is to apply an integrative approach to understanding the interactions among the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems and behavior within ecologically relevant environmental contexts. Ongoing research in my laboratory focuses on investigating seasonal changes in aggression and gut microbiome influences on social behavior from both ultimate and proximate perspectives. 

Goals Statement:  I have participated in SICB for the past 20 years and have always appreciated the meeting’s focus on physiology and behavior from a broadly integrative perspective that includes ecological and evolutionary approaches.  A key strength of DCE is its integration of ideas across disciplines, experimental approaches and animal models while focusing on the “common themes” of endocrine regulation.  SICB has traditionally been a vibrant home for comparative endocrinology research; as DCE Chair I will work with the divisional leadership to encourage the development of innovative and creative divisional and society-wide symposia that continue to connect across newly emerging fields of biological inquiry. As Chair, a key goal is to organize and communicate information on the ac­tivities and proceedings of the division to its members. Another important goal is to attract and recruit new membership to the division.  Students are the future of every SICB division, and DCE is no exception; I will work hard to ensure the growth and success of the society by not only sustaining our current membership, but also exploring creative ways to recruit new researchers to our division.  

Candidates for Secretary

Jenny Ouyang 

Jenny Ouyang

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Nevada Reno

Education: PhD, Ecology and Evolution, Princeton University (2012).

Professional Experience: National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (2013-2015), Postdoctoral Associate, Virginia Tech, (2012-2013).

SICB Activities: Regular attendee of SICB since 2011. Symposium organizer in 2018.

Other Memberships: Animal Behavior Society

Research Interests: Endocrine Evolution and Ecology, Urban Ecology. How do some individuals in the same population raise ten offspring while others only have one? How do some individuals survive cold winters and breed again while others do not live past their first winter? Our lab is interested in the ecology and evolution of physiological systems. To answer the questions above, we empirically test, in natural and laboratory populations, how, and at what rate, physiologically-regulated traits can evolve and enable organismal adaptation to changing environmental conditions.

Goals Statement: I am an organized individual who commits to accurate and timely meeting minutes, newsletters, and information gathering and dissemination. I love being a part of SICB, which has been so friendly and welcoming since I was a student, and I would like to promote SICB and DCE to more students and postdocs. 

Haruka Wada 

Haruka Wada

Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University

Education: B.S., Zoology, University of Washington (1999); Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, The University of Texas at Austin (2007).

Professional Experience: Postdoctoral Associate, Virginia Tech (2007-2009); Postdoctoral fellow, University of Western Ontario (2009-2011); Assistant Professor, Auburn University (2012-2020); Associate Professor, Auburn University (2020-present).

SICB Activities: I have been an active member of SICB since 2003 and involved in chairing sessions, judging presentations, and organizing two symposia (2014 and 2019) and a mentorship program.

Other Memberships: None 

Research Interests: My primary research interest is to deepen our understanding of developmental phenotypic plasticity from a mechanistic perspective. Specifically, I aim to link neuroendocrine and cellular stress responses, molecular and cellular damage, and fitness-related measures in order to understand the causes behind context dependency in the outcome of a stressor. In other words, why does the same stressor enhance physiological functions or reproductive performance in one situation, but suppress them in another situation?

Goals Statement: SICB has been my primary society and conference to attend since 2003. What makes SICB so intellectually stimulating, cutting edge, and diverse is: 1) SICB actively promotes cross-talk between disciplines through selection of symposia, accompanying Integrative and Comparative Biology issues, social opportunities, and special awards, 2) SICB is committed to education and involvement of researchers from diverse backgrounds and makes great efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, and 3) SICB makes every effort to encourage student participation and communication among researchers at different stages of their careers. If I were selected as DCE Secretary, I would devote myself to enriching these strengths and helping DCE promote an even more interdisciplinary and inclusive community. Thank you for considering me for the DCE Secretary position.