Division of Ecology and Evolution: Spring 2020 Newsletter

Message from the Chair, Cameron Ghalambor,

Cameron Ghalambor
Cameron Ghalambor

Hello everyone, I hope those of you who attended the 2020 meeting in Austin, Texas had a great time. I’d like to make a few quick announcements and then turn your attention to our next meeting in Washington DC (2021) and beyond.

To begin, on behalf of the entire division, I would like to thank Michelle Nishiguchi for her exceptional service as DEE Program Officer over the past few years. As Program Officer, “Nish” has played a central role in shaping the program for the annual meetings and making sure DEE’s interests are well represented. Thanks, Nish!!

As for the recent 2020 meeting in Austin, what can I say? It was another great meeting full of cutting-edge results, the sharing and exchanging of ideas, and an opportunity to see friends and colleagues. I love the diversity and breadth of topics I’m exposed to at the meetings and always leave energized and excited about science. If you feel the same, then encourage your non-SICB colleagues to attend next year. A DEE highlight of every SICB meeting are the Ray Huey Award sessions for best student talk and poster. As usual, we were treated to an amazing group of talks and posters. Congratulations to this year’s winners, Nick Barts (Kansas State University) for his talk “Repeated mitochondrial evolution underlies adaptation to extreme environments”, and Isaac Miller-Crews (University of Texas, Austin) for his poster “2bRAD-seq Paternity Testing Pipeline for Complex and Mixed DNA Samples.” We’ve highlighted them in our spring newsletter (see below). Also, I want to give a big round of thanks to all of the DEE members who served as judges for the abstracts, talks, and posters in this year’s com­petition. And students – it’s never too early to begin planning for next year’s competition in Washington DC! Advisors, please encourage your students to submit an abstract!

This year’s DEE signature social event, the Beer & Brains mixer, was held at Easy Tiger and it was another huge success. A special thanks to Craig Marshall (DEE Student/Post-doc Rep) for helping to coordinate this year’s event.  Over 80 students and faculty met up in a casual venue to talk science and discuss issues related to careers in science and aca­demia, with DEE picking up the tab on food and drinks. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on this event since its inception five years ago; however, its popularity has made it difficult to include everyone who would like to attend. So one of the main goals for future meetings is to grow Beer & Brains into a more inclusive DEE social that will accommodate everyone (see below).

While it may feel too early to start thinking about future meetings, planning for future meetings are well underway. The symposia for next year’s 2021 meeting in Washington DC are already set, and six symposia are supported by DEE. Our members will likely be interested in many of these symposia that include the effects of light pollution on natural systems, the evolutionary development of tails, the spatiotemporal dynamics of communication, and many more. DEE will also be sponsoring a special session at the 2021 meetings celebrating the contributions of George Gilchrist. George made important scientific contributions in the area of evolutionary physiology, but was perhaps best known in his role as a permanent program officer at NSF. Sadly, George passed away recently, and the special session will allow an opportunity for SICB to contribute talks that celebrate George’s influence.

Now is also the time to begin planning for symposia for the 2022 meetings in Phoenix (deadline is Aug. 23, 2020).  We really want to encourage DEE members to take the lead in organizing symposia. The basics are simple: think of an exciting topic in ecology and evolution, (2) draft up a diverse “dream team” of potential speakers, (3) run your idea by the DEE program officer, and (4) submit your proposal by August 23rd, 2020. For junior investigators, this is a great way to network while impacting your field, plus it will make a lasting contribution as a special volume of Integrative & Comparative Biology. And remember that DEE officers are always happy to discuss sympo­sium ideas with you. Just drop us a line!

As for DEE itself, we continue to function because of the hard work and time of our officers, representatives, and members. So, let me begin by saying on behalf of the entire division a big round of thanks to Martha Muñoz for her amazing service as Secretary — she is the source of all good ideas. Thanks to new Program Officer Sarah Diamond – we missed you at this year’s meeting but look forward to seeing you next year. And thanks to Student/Post-doc Representative Craig Marshall for all your hard work organizing Beer & Brains and student outreach activities. The future will belong to Chair-Elect Fran Bonier, Secretary-Elect Christine Miller, and we will be holding an election for the next Program Officer and the new Chair-Elect this spring. Information on the candidates can be found in this newsletter. Please take a moment to check out each candidate — and remember to vote when the polls open. We have a large and diverse membership, and we would like to see this diversity represented in our elections!

Speaking of voting, DEE members will also be voting on whether to add dues to our membership. Other SICB divisions include additional dues for their members, but it’s only recently that DEE has considered such a move. Why now? There are several benefits to including dues, including increased support for symposia and student award. The primary motivation for adding dues, however, is to provide the financial means to expand our DEE social, Beer & Brains. This social started off as a small gathering of graduate students, post-docs, and faculty, and it was meant to provide a less formal setting for early career scientists to engage with faculty about their research interests and career paths. However, as the popularity of the social has grown, so too has the cost of renting an appropriate space and providing food and drinks. As a result, we have had to limit the number of people who can attend, and nothing has been more painful than turning away those who wanted to attend. Paying dues would, therefore, give us the financial means to grow and transform Beer & Brains into a more inclusive social for all DEE interested in attending. The ultimate goal is not simply to grow the size of the social, but also to make the social the hub where DEE members will come together and build lasting relationships and connections with each other. At the DEE Business meeting in Austin (which was arguably the best attended Business meeting ever), a majority of attendees voted by a show of hands to put the question of dues to a vote. The final structure has yet to be determined, but DEE members will likely be able to vote for one of several options; (1) no dues, (2) the same dues for all members (e.g. $5), or (3) a tiered structure (e.g., $5 for students and post-docs, $10 for faculty). This is a big change, so please vote when the time comes.

Finally, I’d like to add that Martha and I are very much interested in building a cul­ture of increased participation, inclusion, and identity within the division. Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Please feel free to email me or any of the other officers or representatives. We really would love to hear from you.

Message from the Program Officer, Sarah Diamond,

Sarah Diamond
Sarah Diamond

Hi, DEE! I’m your new Program Officer for the Division, and am excited to continue the fantastic meeting programming brought to you by outgoing Program Officer, Michele “Nish” Nishiguchi. A warm round of applause for all that Nish brought to DEE in her role as Program Officer – cheers!

The 2020 Annual Meeting was a great success with seven DEE co-sponsored symposia and nearly 250 presenters who identified DEE as their primary affiliation. From Twitter and personal comments, attendees remarked on how the SICB Annual Meeting was a fun, safe, constructive environment to discuss their science. Let’s keep that positive energy going! If you have ideas for maintaining or building on this platform, don’t hesitate to email me ( or find me on Twitter (@sarah_e_diamond).

The upcoming 2021 Annual Meeting will be in Washington, DC, so be sure to mark your calendars! We have some great DEE sponsored symposia lined up for the meeting, and we look forward to seeing all of your oral and poster presentation abstracts later in the year.

With the 2021 meeting on the horizon, it’s already time to start thinking about symposium ideas for the 2022 meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the many excellent contri­butions the Division of Ecology and Evolution brings to the Annual Meeting is its support of symposia. DEE is looking forward to directly supporting symposia that relate to the major themes of our Division. I welcome anyone who has an idea or topic for a potential symposium to contact me by e-mail for feedback and suggestions ( Please also have a look at the SICB Resources page, which has a really nice guide to preparing a symposium proposal. Stay tuned to theSICB Meeting page for the official call for symposium proposals.

In the meantime, for DEE members who already have some ideas for symposia and would like feedback on the scope of the topic or logistics about preparing the proposal, please feel free to email myself or SICB Program Officer, Jake Socha ( Please attempt to submit preliminary proposals to me by mid-June, so I can offer suggestions to enhance support for the proposals before the deadline in August. We are especially interested in proposals that emphasize emerging conceptual and integrative topics of broad interest to the members of SICB as well as our Division. We encourage symposium proposals from junior members of the Division. Collaborating with more senior SICB members to organize a topic for a symposium can also be a great way to kick things off for junior members who might have less experience with symposium proposals. Finally, DEE has been successful in sponsoring symposia that broaden participation by underrepresented groups, and we are keen to continue this trend. To get a sense of the breadth of funded symposia from past meetings, check out the SICB Symposia Archive page.

Message from the Secretary, Martha Muñoz,

Martha Munoz
Martha Munoz

Greetings, fellow DEE members! I hope your experience at SICB 2020 was as wonderful as mine. I would like to highlight some of the wonderful things that DEE got up to at this previous meeting. First, we held our Raymond B. Huey award for best student presentation in both oral and poster categories. Our winners, Nick Barts and Isaac Miller-Crews, both delivered excellent presentations that addressed broad topics in ecology and evolution. In this newsletter you’ll be able to read all about their research and get to know them better. Second, we held our Beer and Brains event at Easy Tiger, and the event was a big success. I would like to thank Craig Marshall and Cam Ghalambor for their tireless efforts to make the event go off without any hitches. They did a wonderful job! If you attended the event, I hope you enjoyed the conversations, food, and beer as much as I did.

I also want to highlight our DEE business meeting, which was totally packed this year. Why does this matter? We want you – the membership of DEE – to have a voice and a stake in its future! I believe it’s especially important for students attend the business meeting. Students and early career researchers are the lifeblood (and the future) of the division. I hope this pattern of high attendance continues in our future business meetings. It was a delight to see everyone so engaged. We want DEE to be your home within SICB and for you to help us plan its future! As Cam describes in his Message to DEE, we will be voting on whether or not to add dues to DEE so that the Beer & Brains event social can grow. This decision affects all of DEE, so please vote!

Speaking of voting, we’ve got a big spring ahead of us here in DEE. We will be hosting elections for Program Officer. SICB’s program officers work together to build the program for our annual meeting. In addition to organizing sessions, POs also work on symposia for upcoming meetings. This includes working with folks who have ideas for future symposia, selecting symposia for the SICB meeting, and deciding how to allocate DEE funds among selected symposia. I encourage all of our members to vote! Below you will find profiles for the candidates running for Program Officer.

I had a wonderful time last fall getting to know some of our amazing student members a bit better and highlighting them in the newsletter through our DEE Student Profiles. This will be an ongoing feature of our newsletters, so look for more DEE Student Profiles in the Fall 2020 newsletter. Please contact me if you’re interested, and remember that self-nominations are totally welcome!

Finally, on a more personal note, I want to share that the SICB community is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. George Gilchrist’s earlier this year. George was a phenomenal biologist. His work on evolutionary physiology deeply embodied the spirit of integrative biology. George spent the latter part of his career as a Program Officer at the NSF, where he worked tirelessly to support great science. He cared so much about science and even more so about the people doing science (especially students and early career researchers). He has left an indelible mark on our community. Cam and I are organizing a Special Session at SICB 2021 in Washington, D.C. to honor George and his legacy. Please stay tuned for more information. If you’re interested in speaking in the Special Session, please send me or Cam an email.
I know SICB 2020 just wrapped up, but I’m already looking forward to next year. I hope to see you all in D.C.!

Winners of the Raymond B. Huey Best Student Presentation Awards

Oral Presentation Winner: Nick Barts

Nick Barts
Nick Barts

Position:Ph.D. candidate

Talk title: Repeated mitochondrial evolution underlies convergent adaptation to extreme environments.

Research Description: I’m interested in the physiological and behavioral mechanisms organisms use to survive under novel and extreme environmental conditions. My current research explores the biochemical and physiological pathways fish use to survive in naturally toxic springs rich in hydrogen sulfide. This chemical inhibits aerobic energy production by interfering with cell’s powerhouse (the mitochondria), and most of my research to date has investigated how these fish overcome this challenge. We’ve found that most tolerant species exhibit increased detoxification enzyme expression, and we’ve demonstrated that this has functional consequences in the Atlantic molly with respect to enzyme activity, internal sulfide concentrations, and mitochondrial respiration rates. My most recent research is investigating what mechanisms potentially facilitated colonization of these toxic habitats by assessing differences in gene expression of successful and unsuccessful colonizing species upon exposure to hydrogen sulfide.

What does winning the Huey Award mean to you? It is an honor to win the Huey Award. It is always great to receive recognition for your work, and I think it demonstrated to me that I should be proud of the work I’ve put so much effort into over the last few years.

Fun Memory of SICB: My favorite part of every SICB so far has been attending the OutGroup events. I really enjoy the opportunity to meet and network with other LGBTQ+ scientists. At the SICB 2019 meeting, I attended my first drag show with the group!

Poster Presentation Winner: Isaac Miller-Crews

Isaac Miller Crews
Isaac Miller Crews

Position: Ph.D. candidate in the Hofmann Lab at The University of Texas at Austin

Poster Title: 2bRAD-seq Paternity Testing Pipeline for Complex and Mixed DNA Samples

Research Description: We have developed a 2bRAD-seq based paternity testing method that works reliably on mixed DNA samples derived from a genetically homogenous population. The cost-effective method utilizes a combination of a modified combined paternity index and identity-by-state clustering without the need for a reference genome.

What does winning the Huey Award mean to you? I am honored that other people appreciated the research and grateful that I got to share it with so many fellow scientists (and maybe future collaborators!).

Fun Memory of SICB: Besides finding other people finally excited to talk about paternity testing, I appreciated discussing future research plans and collaborations with researchers from disciplines I knew nothing about.

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Craig Marshall

I am very excited to begin my second year as your DEE graduate/postdoc representative for SICB 2021!

Craig Marshall
Craig Marshall

We had a fantastic turnout for our 7thannual Beers and Brains event in Austin, TX! Thank you to all of the graduate students, postdocs, and faculty that attended. Beers and Brains 2020 would not have been the success that it was if it were not for your participation. For those of you who registered, but were not offered a spot, please accept our sincerest apologies. We had more people register than we had spots available. However, for SICB 2021, we are looking into funding opportunities to expand this event in order to make the 8thannual Beer and Brains event in Washington, DC our largest event thus far!

For those of you that are unfamiliar, Beers and Brains is an amazing networking opportunity for students seeking advice and tips from faculty about life in graduate school and beyond. Faculty attendees range from those who have been in the game quite a bit to those that are just starting out. They are employed at a variety of institutions, from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges. Therefore, there’s amazing advice to be had for everyone no matter the nature of your current status in graduate school or career trajectory. Please look out for the registration link as we get closer to the event.

Look out for more updates regarding DEE and SICB Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC) events in our next newsletter! If you should have any questions or are looking for additional information about DEE and ways that you can become more involved, please do not hesitate to reach out ( I look forward to hearing from you so we can work together to make SICB 2021 rewarding, memorable, and fun!

DEE Chair-Elect Candidate Biographies


Don Miles

Don Miles
Don Miles

Current Position: Professor of Biological Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.

Education: Ph.D. Population Biology; University of Pennsylvania, MPhil. Biometry, University of Cambridge; B.A. Zoology, University of California, Berkeley

Professional Experience: Visiting Professor, Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France; Laureate, Make Our Planet Great Again, CNRS Moulis, France; Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences; Visiting Scientist, Museum für Naturkunde, Berline

SICB Activities: Organizer of Symposium: Contributions of Long-term Studies to Conservation Biology; Member since 1985 (DEE, DVM, DPCB), Program Officer DEE, Judge for Best Student Paper (DVM, Huey Award), Co-organizer Beer and Brains

Other Memberships: Society for the Study of Evolution, American Society of Naturalists, Ecological Society of America, Herpetologists League

Research Interests: My research interests center on how organisms cope with variation in environmental conditions. I am interested in species responses to both spatial and temporal variation with an emphasis on climate change. My approach ranges from examining temporal variation within a population and spatial variation among populations to among species comparisons. I investigate how species cope with abiotic factors, such as heat waves or drought, using morphological, physiological and behavioral traits. A key aspect of my research is that the phenotype, through behavior or physiology, acts as a filter to mediate variation in temperature or precipitation to enhance performance and ultimately fitness. Potential responses include phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation. However, how a species can cope with environmental fluctuations depends on the flexibility in the morphology-performance axis and opportunities within the habitat matrix. I leverage the variation in traits among populations or species to determine the relative roles of plasticity or adaptive shifts to facilitate the ability of population/species to persist in fluctuating environments.

Statement of Goals: The annual meeting of SICB was one of my first professional meetings as a graduate student. To this day SICB remains my primary professional meeting. One of the strengths of SICB and DEE is the breadth of expertise and research the members encompass. In my opinion, DEE is a core division within SICB, because by definition ecology and evolution are integrative and comparative. Moreover, the research presented from every other division has connections with DEE. Another strength of the society and DEE is the record of supporting students (both undergraduate and graduate), postdocs and early career researchers. DEE has been a leader in increasing interaction among established researchers and students, as in “Beer and Brains” and recognizing the outstanding research of student members with the Huey Award. In addition, Martha Muñoz has initiated a new addition to the DEE newsletter with the DEE Student Profiles. As chair-elect, I would continue to work at maintaining the strong presence of DEE within the society, across other societies (ASN and SSE) and broaden participation. First, I would work to promote SICB as the premier venue for presenting integrative and state-of-the-art research by encouraging members of the division to submit symposia that includes speakers who ordinarily do not attend the meeting. Second, I would continue to work with increasing our social media presence and public outreach through Twitter and Facebook. Third, the division should consider offering targeted workshops at the annual meeting. These workshops could include topics such as alternative careers outside of academia and using social media to promote research and generate interest from other divisions. Fourth, I would propose to initiate a new section of the newsletter that introduced new faculty as is done by other societies. Finally, I would like to consider developing a DEE symposium or a targeted contributed paper session comprised of early career speakers invited by the officers of DEE.

Tonia Schwartz 

Tonia Schwartz
Tonia Schwartz

Current Position:  Assistant Professor, Auburn University

Education: BS in Zoology, Iowa State University; MS in Zoology, University of South Florida; PhD in Genetics, Iowa State University

Professional Experience: James S. McDonnell Post-doctoral Fellow Complexity Science,; University of Alabama at Birmingham; Assistant Professor at Auburn University

SICB Activities: Member since 2013; Assistant Editor for ICB since 2019

Other Memberships: Sigma Xi; Society for the Study of Evolution; European Society of Evolutionary Biology

Research Interests: My research integrates environmental variation, molecular networks, and life history to investigate how organisms respond to their environment at the individual level (plasticity and acclimation) and how this response can evolve across populations and across species. To do this we use experimental and observational studies with an emphasis on large-scale genetic data. See more at:

Statement of Goals: I find the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology to be a welcoming society for all career stages. I value the mission of the society in promoting education as well as research in the integration of biological disciplines to understand organismal function and evolution. Being part of this society has provided an academic home for me to grow my research interests. I hope to be able to give back to this society in supporting its mission of promoting education and integrative research, and continuing to promote inclusiveness in our scientific societies.

DEE Program Officer-Elect Candidate Biographies


Caitlin Gabor

Caitlin Gabor
Caitlin Gabor

Current Position: Professor, Department of Biology, Texas State University

Education: B.A. Aquatic Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara (1990); M.S., Biology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette (1993); Ph.D., University of Louisiana, Lafayette (1997); NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (1997-1999).

Professional Experience: NSF panelist for Behavioral Systems, DDIG, and Graduate Research Fellowships plus ad-hoc reviews; Associate Editor for Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology(2005-present) and Amphibia-Reptilia(2009-present). Chair Animal Behavior Society Public Affairs Committee (2009-2014)

 SICB Activities: Participated in Beers and Brains 2x, DAB poster judge 2x, Member of DAB, DEE and DEDE since 2014

Other Memberships: Sigma Xi

Research Interests: Our lab’s research program spans conservation physiology to behavioral ecology. We focus on the consequences of anthropogenic factors on fish and amphibian population declines from a behavioral, evolutionary, and conservation physiology perspective. We have also studied the historical forces of natural and sexual selection on speciation in a unisexual-bisexual species complex of live bearing fish from a behavioral, evolutionary, and physiological standpoint.

 Statement of Goals: For many years colleagues told me that I would love SICB meetings. They were correct.  I finally attended my first SICB meeting in 2014 and have not looked back. I value the integrative nature of SICB. As program officer, I would strive to expand opportunities for contributions from the diverse SICB membership in terms of contributed talks, posters and symposia. Continuing to promote the opportunity for a strong connection between early stage career scientists and more established ones will be a major goal in this position.

Martha Muñoz

Martha Munoz
Martha Munoz

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

Education: BA Biology, Boston University (2007); PhD Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University (2014)

Professional Experience: Fulbright Research Fellow, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Madrid, Spain (2007-2008); Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The Australian National University, (2014-2015); Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Duke University (2015-2017); Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech (2017-2019)

SICB Activities: Member since 2009 (DEE, DCB, DPCB, DVM); Co-organizer for one Symposium (2019 Meeting); Judge for the DEE Huey Award (2016-2018); Public Affairs Committee (2017-2020); Secretary for DEE (2019-2021)

Other Memberships: American Society of Naturalists; Society for the Study of Evolution; Sigma Xi

Research Interests: Evolution is not a uniform process. Sometimes evolution occurs in rapid bursts, resulting in exceptional diversity accumulating over short periods of time, and sometimes it stalls, resulting periods of stasis that can last millions of years. My research centers on discovering the motors and brakes of evolution. I typically approach this goal through the lens of evolutionary physiology (particularly in reptiles and amphibians), and I am especially passionate about weaving my findings into our broader understanding of how climate change will impact organismal diversity. To this end, I connect variation in environmental factors, particularly temperature and humidity, with phenotypic variation in behavior, morphology, and physiology at the population level. I then examine how such variation translates into macroevolutionary footprints at deeper phylogenetic scales. While fundamentally rooted in evolutionary biology, my work integrates across various SICB-related disciplines, including functional vertebrate morphology, comparative biomechanics, and animal behavior.

Statement of Goals: SICB holds a very special place in my heart. I remember attending my first SICB in Boston (2009) and immediately feeling like I had found my home. SICB has become the place where I go to learn about exciting new research, to connect with old friends and make news ones, and to build new collaborations. Now that I am an advisor, SICB is where I bring my students and encourage them to learn, network, and flourish as rising scholars. DEE is the hub that connects all of the things that make SICB wonderful for me and my students. I’ve been a member in DEE for over a decade and I have seen just how committed the division is to promoting cutting-edge research, and to supporting young scientists. My goals as program officer are to support all the things that already make DEE strong, and to help build in key dimensions. DEE is a truly interdisciplinary division, one where comparative physiologists, biomechanists, geneticists, endocrinologists, and behavioral ecologists alike could be connected through a mutual interest in the ecology-evolution interface. As PO, I would seek out scientists (particularly early career researchers) whose research spans disciplines and encourage them to propose forward-thinking symposia. As a former symposium organizer, I know the challenges associated with building a symposium proposal, attracting speakers, and getting external funding. I would help all our potential symposium organizers navigate this process to make it as easy and as rewarding as possible. I am especially committed to ensuring that our symposium participants speak to the diversity of our membership and of the scientific community. I will also support DEE events that support the growth of our students, like the Huey Award and the Beer and Brains event. I would like the Huey Award symposium to continue to be a top session for student presentations, and would like to increase membership participation in the session through strategic session planning and better communication with the other SICB divisions. Through increased communication with the Broadening Participation Committee, I would also like to increase awareness of the Huey symposium and of our Beer and Brains social event. As PO, I also want to improve our Huey Award poster session through increased coordination during the planning meeting and improved advertising throughout the fall semester, which will provide a better spotlight for our excellent student researchers.