Spring 2021: Division of Botany

Message from the Chair

Chris Martine, chair.dob@sicb.org

Chris Martine

Congrats to everyone on a great SICB 2021 conference. If you were unable to participate this year, we hope to see you next January for SICB 2022 (hopefully in-person) for the Division of Botany’s third official meeting! This year’s virtual conference had so many #SICBplants highlights for me, but the two that stood out the most were the “Rising Star in Organismal Botany” student session (more on that below) and the special DOB-sponsored session in honor of the late Vicki Funk, “Evolution and Biogeography of Islands.”

The Funk session featured talks by Angela McDonnell (Chicago Botanic Garden), Matthew Gibson (Indiana University), Jason Cantley (San Francisco State University), and John Phillips (University of Idaho) that were bookended by a touching introductory overview of Dr. Funk’s life and work by Warren Wagner (Smithsonian) and a final talk (coauthored by

Slide from Warren Wagner’s talk in the special session in honor of Vicki Funk

Vicki) by Sterling Keeley (University of Hawaii at Manoa) on the Compositae in Oceania. It was amazing to see so many of Vicki’s collaborators, friends, and admirers in attendance. With regard to Vicki’s lasting legacy as a scholar and mentor, Dr. Keeley probably put it best when she said that Vicki was the “hotspot” under the collaborative groups she was a part of and “all the little volcanoes that popped up were her progeny.” The lava was definitely flowing for this session – and it won’t cool for some time.


Message from the Program Officer

Janet Steven, dpo.dob@sicb.org

Janet Steven

Greetings from your Program Officer, Janet Steven. Thank you for supporting the Division at the virtual 2021 meetings. Despite the challenges of the virtual environment, we had many plant talks throughout the program, and our student talks and division mixer were collegial. Congratulations go out to Haley Branch, who received the Rising Star in Organismal Botany award, and Jenna Miladin, who received the award for best student poster presentation in the division.

SICB 2022 is currently scheduled for Phoenix, Arizona January 3-7, and the Society will provide periodic updates about planning. Spread the word and encourage your plant colleagues to submit an abstract! Plans are also in the works for a DOB field trip to the Desert Botanical Garden during the meeting. If you are thinking ahead, symposium proposals for the 2023 meeting are due in August. We encourage you to consider proposing a topic that addresses a question or phenomenon across taxa, and I can assist you in assembling the proposal and identifying speakers. I’m also planning to put together a workshop at the 2022 meetings that will foster connections between organismal plant biology and other divisions of SICB; let me know if you would like to facilitate a discussion on plant anatomy, plant behavior, plant signaling, or comparative plant morphology!

Thanks to everyone who has joined DOB (now over 100 strong), and we hope to see you in Arizona!


Message from the Secretary

Karolina Heyduk, secretary.dob@sicb.org

Karolina Heyduk

Hello! I’m taking over secretary duties from Chris Muir, and am happy to be aboard the Division of Botany at SICB! As Janet mentioned, we’re pleased to announce the winners of the best student poster and Rising Star in Organismal Botany winners from the 2021 conference:

Best Student Poster: Jenna Miladin, Undergraduate, John Carroll University. Title: Direct and indirect influences of climate on pollination and floral morphology

Rising Star in Organismal Botany (Best Student Talk): Haley Branch, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia. Title: Rapid evolution of leaf characteristics in response to drought stress in populations of scarlet monkeyflower.


Congrats to them and all the outstanding students who presented at this years’ SICB! #plantsarecooltoo

Finally, we have two elections this year – for Chair and Program Officer – so please be sure to check out candidate biographies below and vote! 


Message from Student and Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative

Morgan Furze, morgan.furze@yale.edu 

Morgan Furze

Hi students and postdocs of the plant world! I hope you enjoyed connecting earlier this year and were able to take advantage of the many fantastic offerings at virtual SICB 2021. As the DOB representative on the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee, I wanted to highlight one of our contributions to this year’s meeting. We held a virtual workshop on “Transferable Skills in Academia and Non-Academia” which featured a panel of non-academic professionals and had over 75 attendees who were eager to learn about transferrable skills for various careers! At SICB 2022, we are planning to host a workshop on science communication.

As always, please reach out to me at any point throughout the year if you have feedback, concerns, ideas, or questions!


Candidates for Chair

Ulrike Müller 

Ulrike Muller

Current Position: Professor, Department of Biology, California State University Fresno

Education: Ph.D. Marine Biology, University of Groningen, Netherlands (1997), M.Sc., Biology, Bielefeld University, Germany (1992)

Professional Experience: Post-docs at Cambridge University, UK; Wageningen University, Netherlands; Chiba University, Japan.

SICB Activities: Student Presentation Judge DCB (2010-2012), Student Support Committee (2010-2012); Co-Organizer of Data Management Workshop (2017), Member at Large (2018-2019), SICB symposium co-organizer (2019), Associate Editor IOB (2018-2019), Editor ICB (since 2019).

Other Memberships: Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS; Member Ecological Society of America; Member of the Society for Experimental Biology; Member of the International Carnivorous Plant Society; Associate Editor Proceedings B of Royal Society, London.

Research Interests: My research area is bio fluid dynamics of small organisms. My favorite study organisms are in the carnivorous plant genus Utricularia (bladderworts).  I study how bladderwort traps catch their prey. I use engineering and mathematics approaches to better understand the fluid dynamics of these small suction feeding traps. I am also developing new approaches to study if and how bladderworts select their prey.

Goals Statement: DOB is the most recent of now 12 SICB divisions and one of only three divisions with an organismal focus. Plants are an important part of integrative and organismal biology, and DOB offers botanists with an organismal focus a home in a society that promotes integration across biological disciplines. My goal for DOB is to bring botanists to SICB and organismal biologists to plants as (one of) their study organisms. I would like to increase awareness of plants’ relevance within an integrative-and-comparative-biology agenda—plants make for great study organisms in research and in teaching.  An important practical goal for our division is to help promote botany-relevant presentations at our annual meetings, encourage symposia to feature botany-relevant talks, and help organize botany-relevant symposia and events. As a young division, DOB also has a young membership: three quarters of our division’s members are early-career scientists (students and post-docs).  So DOB is in an excellent position to role model how early-career scientists reshape science and engagement.


Michael R. McKain 

Michael McKain

Current Position:  Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama; Curator of The University of Alabama Herbarium

Education: B.A., Biology, Wabash College (2007); Ph.D., University of Georgia (2012); Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Missouri-St. Louis (2013); Postdoctoral Researcher, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (2014-2017)

Professional Experience: Associate Editor Frontiers in Plant Systematics and Evolution (2018-present); Associate Editor Applications in Plant Sciences (2020-Present); Special Issue Editor American Journal of Botany (2019-2021); Special Issue Editor Applications in Plant Sciences (2017); ad hoc reviewer for NSF DEB and PGRP; NSF reviewer DEB panel

SICB Activities: member Division of Botany (2021)

Other Memberships: Botanical Society of America; American Society of Plant Taxonomists

Research Interests: My research takes a holistic approach to understanding how plants diversify morphologically, physiologically, and taxonomically. Much of my work focuses on developing phylogenetic context to investigate how genomic changes, especially polyploidy, lead to evolutionary innovation in response to selective pressures. My work uses herbaria to gain insight into how changes over the last 200 years have impacted the diversity we see today, even in such a short time period.

Goals Statement: My identity as a researcher has always included a systematist at the core, a burgeoning genomicist in practice, and an evolutionary biologist at heart. As my lab has grown, I have begun to further integrate all of these ideas into a program that simply studies diversity. It was through my graduate student that I began to realize that SICB was a place where my collaborative and integrative approach to science would be met with like-minded colleagues. Serving as the Chair of the Division of Botany, I would make promotion of the interconnected nature of plant biology a priority by exploring ways in which researchers who might not see SICB as a place for them would be shown that they would prosper through the connections they can make with SICB. By furthering the integrative aspects of SICB from the genomic to the evolutionary scale and all those in between, we can push our understanding of how the great diversity of plant life came to be. I would be honored to work with an organization that values inclusivity and supporting a diverse research community. I would be excited to explore potential avenues to promote the inclusion of more undergraduate researchers from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds and give opportunities for returning, non-traditional, and working students to engage in research and the SICB experience.


Candidates for Program Officer

Morgan Furze 

Morgan Furze

Current Position: Donnelley Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University

Education: B.A. Biology, Bucknell University (2012); Ph.D. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University (2019)

Professional Experience: Assistant Editor, SICB’s Integrative and Comparative Biology journal (2019-present); Review Editor, Frontiers in Forests and Global Change (2019-present)

SICB Activities: Division of Botany member (2019-present); Division of Botany representative, Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (2019-present); Assistant Editor, Integrative and Comparative Biology (2019-present); Recipient, Rising Star in Organismal Botany Award (2019)

Other Memberships: Botanical Society of America

Research Interests: My research integrates tools from plant physiology, forest ecology, and isotope biogeochemistry with microCT imaging to study plant carbon dynamics and the implications for plant and ecosystem function in a changing world.

Goals Statement: I was thrilled to attend SICB for the first time in 2019 when the Division of Botany made its debut and I have been committed to supporting its success since then. SICB offers a fantastic home base for integrative plant biologists and a unique opportunity for plant and animal biologists to learn from each other. I would be excited to serve as an officer and to help the Division of Botany continue to grow as a diverse and inclusive Community!


Lena Hileman 

Lena Hileman

Current Position:  Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas; Interim Director, Officer of Diversity in Science Training (ODST), University of Kansas.

Education: B.S., Biology, Concentration Cell & Molecular Biology, San Francisco State University (1994); M.S. Biology, Concentration Ecology and Systematic Biology, San Francisco State University (received 2000); Ph.D. Organsimic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University (2002); Postdoctoral researcher, Yale University (2002-2005).

Professional Experience: Editorial Board, New Phytologist (2013-present); Associate Editor, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (2009-2012); Botanical Society of America, Structure & Development Section Program Officer (2018-Present).

SICB Activities:  Member of Division of Botany (2020-present). One Ph.D. student from my group presented at SICB January 2020.

Other Memberships: Botanical Society of America

Research Interests: My research program is focused on discovering the patterns and processes of floral trait evolution. We address this overarching question using phylogenetic, quantitative genetic, developmental genetic and genomic tools. Current work is focused on understand the developmental genetics underlying shifts in flower symmetry, and on the evolutionary and developmental processes for parallel shifts from bee- to hummingbird-adapted flowers.

Statement of Goals: My goals for joining the SICB Division of Botany leadership team are 1) to bring my experience and close eye to detail as a program director of the Botany conference to SICB to ensure conference programming success, 2) to increase Division of Botany exposure within the Botany community, specifically encouraging participation of eco-evo-devo plant researchers at all career stages, and 3) to bring my experience as director of KU-ODST to SICB, working with leadership to ensure diversity and inclusion in the society and its hosted conferences.