Division of Botany: Newsletter Spring 2020

Please vote in the Spring 2020 Elections (candidate biographies can be found below). The deadline is April 19th, and the ballot can be found in the link provided here.

Message from the Chair, Chris Martine,

Chris Martine
Chris Martine

Holy cow vetch, people. The SICB 2020 meeting was full of cool firsts: The first time a SICB conference featured a Division of Botany, the first DOB business meeting, the first time your DOB officers had ever all been in the same room together, and the first use of the #SICBPlants hashtag. On a personal note, it was also the first SICB meeting I had ever attended. 

I have to be honest; As I was travelling to Austin I wondered how fully embraced this whole plant thing was really going to appear once I got there. Would we seem like just an add-on to a society that was already chugging along pretty well without us? What I learned, from the moment the SICB Executive Committee meeting started on the first day, is that President Brainerd and the rest of the leadership (to paraphrase Sally Field) actually like us. They really really like us. Overwhelmingly, the message I got throughout the week from just about everyone who read the “DOB Chair” part of my name tag was “It’s about time.” And, you know what? It was. 

As a first-time attendee and new division chair I spent most of SICB 2020 feeling welcomed, but I also spent much of the conference assessing the relative value, as an organismal botanist, of being a SICB member and attending a SICB meeting. Why should those of you who are already members continue to participate, and – perhaps more importantly – why should our broader community of plant scientists consider hopping on this verdant bandwagon? Many of us already belong to a few societies and invest our resources in attending a meeting or two a year that we feel a connection to – so why add SICB? 

Here is a list of benefits that became clear to me while within Austin’s city limits: 

  1. The Conference. I heard a lot of folks at this meeting (and even more on Twitter) talking about how special this annual meeting is. And, truthfully, it is pretty special. The science is broad, interesting, well-presented, rigorous – and all in a comfortable and inclusive mid-sized meeting where you can easily meet and interact with all sorts of amazing researchers at all career stages. Students are welcomed, celebrated, and supported. More than once, I heard someone say there is no meeting that hits on all of these levels quite like SICB – but I also know that’s not entirely true, because my experience at the annual Botany meetings has been almost exactly the same (except for the organismal coverage). So, if you like Botany (for you and/or for your students), you’ll probably also really like SICB 2021 in Washington, DC. If you’ve mostly attended much larger meetings like ESA or Evolution, consider SICB as a possible mid-year change of pace. 
  2. The Community. The same community support that permeates the meeting also bolsters the whole ethos of the society. All you need to do is dig into #SICB2020 on Twitter and you’ll see that SICB is helping to lead the way in creating space for everyone in science. 
  3. The Journals. What do you get when you have a new Division of Botany plus two excellent society journals with a hankering for plant-related submissions? Opportunity. Integrative and Comparative Biology largely publishes papers stemming from sponsored symposia at the meetings, so editor Ulrike Müller is hoping for integrative symposium proposals that include exemplar plant-themed studies. On the other hand, Adam Summers (editor of the new open-access Integrated Organismal Biology) just wants your manuscripts. He made me promise I’d tell you that. 
  4. The Integration. Look, it’s right there in the name. And it’s right there in much of the current messaging from NSF – and in the way that many higher education institutions are revising their biology curricula. Integrative approaches to biology are where it’s at. I love my plants, my botanical community, and my botanical societies. I will never stop going to Botany meetings because, for me, that feels a lot like family. But I also know some of the greatest impact we can have is when we bust holes in our silos and let all of that golden grain spill out and mix with the farmers’ next door. SICB seems to be an excellent way to make that happen. 

So, tell your friends. Let’s get more folks on board. And let’s have a major turnout of organismal botanists in DC next January. 

Message from the Program Officer, Janet Steven,

Janet Steven
Janet Steven

Greetings from your Program Officer, Janet Steven. The Division of Botany had a successful inaugural SICB meeting in January, and plants were in evidence in many sessions. Congratulations go out to Min Ya and Grey Monroe, who were both recipients of the Rising Star In Organismal Botany prize, and Maria Pimienta, who received the award for best student poster presentation in the division. Our student-faculty mixer was well-attended and provided many opportunities for good conversations.  Many thanks to Morgan Furze for organizing it.

SICB 2021 will be in Washington, D.C. January 3-7, and we are looking forward to seeing the inclusion of plant science into discussions of integrative and comparative biology.  As you attend conferences and talk to colleagues and this year, invite them to participate! If you are thinking ahead, symposium proposals for the 2022 meeting in Arizona 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.

Thanks to everyone who has joined DOB, and we look forward to seeing you in Washington!

Message from the Secretary, Chris Muir,

Aloha DOBers! It was very exciting to have our first SICB meeting as an officially recognized division in Austin! Thanks to everyone who contributed their time, presented their science, attended the business meeting, and came to the Botany Bites social at Easy Tiger (organized by our SPDAC rep Morgan Furze).

Chris Muir
Chris Muir, at top

Our inaugural business meeting was really well attended and we discussed ideas for getting botany-inclusive symposium proposals for the 2021 SICB meeting in Phoenix. Proposals are due August 2020, so if you are interested in putting together a proposal and want to know more, please feel free to contact me or other DOB leadership. We also announced our awards at the DOB meeting, which you can find below. If you couldn’t attend the business meeting, our minutes will be posted here ( in the near future.

We are holding our first DOB election shortly to elect a new Secretary that will take over my role starting in 2021. We have received nominations for Drs. Karolina Heyduk and Grey Monroe (one of our award co-winners). Scroll down to see the candidate profiles and look out for election announcements.

A few key reminders:

  1. HELP US GROW! Tell your colleagues about us and encourage them to reach out to DOB leadership, become a DOB member, and send their integrative botanical work to the SICB meeting and/or journals.
  2. VOTE! Check out the Secretary Nominees (Drs. Karolina Heyduk and Grey Monroe) and vote in the election when it’s announced.
  3. PICTURES! Send me plant pictures you want me to include in future newsletters.

Finally, I want to encourage everyone to hug their mentors (or at least send them a nice note). My undergraduate mentor, Dr. George Gilchrist (Dr. G to undergrads in the lab) passed away recently. I first became interested in integrative evolutionary physiology working in his lab on thermal tolerance in Drosophila. In addition to research, he was an amazing teacher of Evolutionary Genetics and Biostatistics. I wouldn’t be doing my dream career without his early guidance. Please consider donating to the George Gilchrist Student Support Fund organized by The American Society of Naturalists and Society for the Study of Evolution (

DOB Presentation Awards

Maria Cleopatra Pimienta
Maria Cleopatra Pimienta

The Best Student Presentation Award for the Division of Botany went to: Maria Cleopatra Pimienta for “Do diurnal floral visitors increase the fruit-set of a sphingophilous plant? The case of the rough-leaf velvetseed (Rubiaceae)”

The Rising Star in Organismal Botany award was split between two individuals:

  1. Grey Monroe and Min Ya
    Grey Monroe and Min Ya

    Min Ya for “Understanding floral meristem termination by exploring genetic architecture underlying stamen whorl numbers in Aquilegia

  2. Grey Monroe for “From satellites to sequences: investigating drought adaptive life history evolution in plants”

Thank you again to SICB President, Dr. Beth Brainerd, for sponsoring the Rising Star in Organismal Botany award.

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Morgan Furze

We did it! Thank you for helping to showcase botany for the first time at SICB 2020! After a suite of wonderful plant-related talks, our community celebrated over a Botany Bites dinner at Easy Tiger. Sausages, pretzels, and great conversation were enjoyed! We will plan to host another social event next year, so be on the lookout for details as SICB 2021 approaches!

As your DOB SPDAC rep, I wanted to bring your attention to the resources that SPDAC offers to students and postdocs at the annual meeting. This year, in addition to having a “How-To” booth in the Exhibitor Hall, we hosted a “Transitions in Science Careers” workshop which provided an opportunity to ask experts about moving between career stages. I hope you were able to attend, but if not, please consider joining the workshop next year! The topic will be “Transferable Skills in Academia and Non-Academia”, and we will be bringing in non-academic experts from the D.C. area!

My goal is to be a voice for the students and postdocs of DOB, so if you have any feedback, concerns, or ideas to improve your experience at future meetings, please get in touch (! Let’s keep the green wave going! See you in 2021!

DOB Secretary Candidate Biographies


Karolina Heyduk

Karolina Heyduk
Karolina Heyduk

Current Position: Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Education: B.S., Economics and Biological Aspects of Conservation, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011); Ph.D., University of Georgia (2015); Postdoctoral researcher, University of Georgia (2016-2018); Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies Donnelley Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2019).

Professional Experience: Associate Editor for Applications in Plant Sciences (2019-present); ad hoc reviewer for NSF DEB, IOS, and PGRP; Botanical Society of America Education Committee member (2018-2021).

SICB Activities: Recipient of SICB grants in aid of research (2014), member of Division of Botany (2019-present).

Other Memberships: Botanical Society of America

Research Interests: My research integrates plant physiology and genomics to understand how plants evolve adaptations to abiotic stress. Working in a phylogenetic comparative context, much of my work has focused on understanding the repeated evolution of CAM photosynthesis, a type of photosynthetic modification that allows plants to tolerate extreme water limitation.

Statement of Goals: I have always had a hard time putting a box around the type of research I do – not quite physiology, not quite genomics. I realized recently that “integrative” is a box of its own, and when I attended SICB for the first time in 2019, I found an entire conference of scientists who work across organismal biology. I would be eager to serve as an officer for the newly formed Division of Botany to help promote SICB as a venue for integrative plant biology. I am also excited to work with SICB, an organization that reflects my own values of diversity and inclusion, as well as the importance of ECR contributions to our scientific societies.  

Grey Monroe

Grey Monroe
Grey Monroe

Current position: Postdoctoral fellow at Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

Education: BS Biology, Appalachian State University (2008-2012) PhD Ecology, Colorado State University (2014-2019)

Professional experience: Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis (starting 2020)

SICB activities: DOB member, Co-awarded Rising Star in Organismal Botany in 2020

Other memberships: Society for the Study of Evolution

Research interests: As sessile organisms, plants must cope directly with whatever conditions they experience in their environment. I am interested in the physiological strategies employed by plants, and their underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms, to adapt to extreme climate events like drought. 

Statement of goals: My first year attending SICB was in 2020 as a proud member of the new Division of Botany. I would be excited to join the leadership team and work to introduce SICB to the larger plant research community. I know there are many people who would love to hear the amazing work by society members as well as share their own discoveries from the fascinating world of plants.

Gratuitous plant photo, courtesy of Janet Steven

Water Lilies
Water Lilies