Fall 2021: Division of Phylogenetics & Comparative Biology

Message from the Chair

David Blackburn, chair.dpcb@sicb.org

The Division of Phylogenetic and Comparative Biology is gearing up for returning to an in-person meeting for SICB 2022 in Phoenix. We are sponsoring several symposia (more information below) and will return with the well-loved Ask-an-Expert booth (see below…experts, we need your help!). While details are not quite sorted, the DPCB leadership is working on what should be a great social event in historic downtown Phoenix.

As I’m confident nearly everyone reading this newsletter already knows, David Wake passed on April 29th of this year. An evolutionary biologist that spent his career focused on salamanders, Dave was a friend and colleague to many in SICB. Dave served as the president of the American Society of Zoologists (the predecessor of SICB) in 1992, as well as many other leadership roles. We hope that DPCB and other SICB members—many of whom were students of Dave’s—will use the annual meeting as a time to share memories of “Commander Salamander” with one another and with Marvalee.

Because DPCB’s Best Student Presentation award is named in honor of both David and Marvalee Wake, at the annual meeting our BSP session of student talks will begin with a presentation in honor of Dave. We will highlight both David and Marvalee’s contributions to our field, our division, and to SICB (and to the American Society of Zoologists before that!). If you have images or details that you think might be appropriate to incorporate into this presentation, please email Dave Blackburn to share these: chair.dpcb@sicb.org.

David and Marvalee Wake Award for Best Student Presentation

We are looking forward to an excellent BSP competition at the annual meeting. We have selected eight presentations (from 15 submissions, all excellent!) for the Wake Award for best student talk, and these cover a wide range of organisms, data types, and methods. We also have 12 outstanding submissions that will be competing for the Wake Award for best student poster. I have no doubt that the talks and posters for the Wake Award will be a highlight of the meeting. 

Because some presenters may still be unable to attend the annual meeting in person, all of our best student talks will be pre-recorded. However, the speakers will be present, either in-person or virtually, to answer questions at the end of their presentation.

​​Message from the Secretary and Secretary-Elect

Haley O’Brien, secretary.dpcb@sicb.orgRyan Felice, secretary-elect.dpcb@sicb.org

Changes to Division Bylaws

This year we have made a few small changes to the DPCB bylaws. First, we have updated the stated purpose of the division to include phylogenetic comparative methods, rather than “comparative biology” broadly-defined, which better represents the interests and goals of our division today. Similarly, we have changed all the references of “zoologists” to “biologists,” recognizing the growing membership of SICB and the division. We have made some changes related to term limits for officers: now, executive committee positions are limited to two terms (consecutive or non-consecutive). We have also updated eligibility for the Wake Awards for Best Student Prize (BSP), which previously was limited to recent PhD students but is now open to all types of students (e.g., undergraduates). In addition, the BSP judging processes have been updated. Finally, we have updated the use of all pronouns in the bylaws from “his/her” to “their.” Updated bylaws are available on the DPCB website

The Ask-An-Expert Booth Returns!

We are in search of Experts to volunteer with the 2022 Ask-An-Expert Booth. This year marks the fourth “Ask-An-Expert” booth: a flexible, open session where SICB members can seek assistance from Experts one-on-one. Each year, the Booth has been a wonderfully approachable and fun way of connecting SICB members with resources and recommendations for genomics, phylogenetics, comparative methods, and more. To-date, over 100 SICB members of all career stages were able to stop by the Booth to consult with an Expert or receive methods pro-tips and troubleshooting advice. 

DPO Leigha Lynch tells us that the meeting has a huge space this year for posters and vendors, so we should be able to set up a great space for the booth. We had great turn-out last year, even though it was virtual, so hopefully the return to an in-person booth will be just as successful!

We are searching for postdocs, senior PhD students, and early-career researchers who are interested in serving as Experts this year. This is a one-hour commitment during one of the poster sessions.

In the past, we have featured experts in the areas of:

  •             Phylogenetic comparative methods
  •             Systematics
  •             Ecological modelling
  •             Geometric morphometrics
  •             Data visualization
  •             R and Python troubleshooting
  •             Applying for jobs
  •             Writing grants
  •             And more!

If you are willing and able to help as an Expert in any area such as these, contact Haley at secretary.dpcb@sicb.org now!

Message from the Program Officer

Leigha Lynch, dpo.dpcb@sicb.org

Leigha Lynch

DPCB is sponsoring the following symposia at the 2022 annual meeting in Phoenix:

  • The deep and shallow history of aquatic life’s passages between marine and freshwater habitats
  • Lesser known transitions: organismal form and function across abiotic gradients
  • Morphology and evolution of female copulatory morphology in amniotes
  • DNA metabarcoding across disciplines: sequencing our way to greater understanding across scales of biological organization

We hope that all of our DPCB members are able to attend these exciting symposia!

​​Message from the Student and Postdoctoral Affairs Representative

Emily Lessner, ejlessner@mail.missouri.edu

Emily Lessner

The SPDAC is currently working on several virtual and in-person resources for the upcoming meeting. We will be holding a booth and distributing packets and brochures on various topics (e.g., research and teaching statements, elevator talks, how to get a postdoc, etc.), which will be made available on the SPDAC page of the SICB website. The booth will also host SICB ‘members of interest’ for short sessions to facilitate networking opportunities for students! We are holding a science communication workshop covering sharing stories and audiovisuals, accessibility, and open software and will be providing short, recorded demos of small but useful skills. 

Please contact the DPCB SPDAC representative, Emily Lessner (ejlessner@mail.missouri.edu) with any comments, concerns, or questions.