Fall 2020 DEDB

Message from the Chair

Deirdre Lyons, chair.dedb@sicb.org

I hope this newsletter finds you, your families, and your labs safe, sane, and adapting to the new challenges that 2020 brought. For many of us, SICB 2020 in Austin was the last meeting we attended in person, and I for one am seriously missing sharing science with colleagues in the same room, running into old friends, and meeting new students and postdocs to chat about their experiments and career goals. On the other hand, the virtual meeting format for SICB 2021 has many advantages—with no travel involved, more people can attend, and you never have to miss a talk because it’s double-booked in a different session; those with family obligations or teaching conflicts will be able to catch up on the oral and poster sessions asynchronously.  

SICB leadership is doing everything they can to make the 2021 virtual meeting as rewarding as the in-person meetings. You can look forward to great talks and posters in the Best Student Presentations categories, and you can participate in the annual Evo-Devo Meet-ups, virtual style this time.  These meetings provide an opportunity for students to talk with postdocs and faculty in their fields. These 1-on-1 or small group virtual meetings will be especially important this year, since students cannot chat with potential grad school or postdoc mentors at coffee breaks or poster sessions; I encourage faculty to participate! Invites to sign up for these virtual meet ups will go out in early December, so make sure to register before then. I’d like to extend a big thank you in advance to our new Student and Postdoctoral Affairs Committee representative, Ryan Hulett (Harvard University), for organizing the Evo-Devo Meet-ups. Welcome Ryan!

That brings me to welcoming the other new DEDB officers-to-be.  Leslie Babonis is serving this year as the Secretary-Elect, as she simultaneously starts her faculty position at Cornell University in January 2021 (congrats Leslie!).  At the end of the 2021 meeting, Frank Smith (University of North Florida) will become Program Officer-Elect and Dave Angelini (Colby College) will become Division Chair-Elect. I’d like to thank the outgoing DEDB Chair, Kim Hoke, for her contributions to SICB and the DEDB (and answering lots of emails from me…). As the new DEDB Chair, I’m excited to work with the existing officers, officers-elect, and all of the DEDB membership to keep SICB an important hub for discussions about EvoDevo.  We have much to talk about.  

One challenge many of us face is how to make teaching in a virtual setting engaging, effective, and fun.  SICB has organized a number of resources including a Database of resources for online instruction, a Database of guest lecturers, and Lisa Whitenack has organized teaching circles, including one on EvoDevo. If you want to join this or other circles, contact Lisa (lwhitena@allegheny.edu). For those of you teaching invertebrate zoology, Bruno Pernet (Cal State Long Beach) has set up a Slack channel on the topic, which you can be added to by an email request to Bruno.  Michael Barresi (Smith College) has been organizing zoom meetings about teaching Developmental Biology in the pandemic; follow him on Twitter at @mjbarresi.  Even more challenging and urgent is the issue of systemic racism in this country in general, and in STEM. SICB has made overt efforts over the last few years to make its meetings a safe space that promotes and encourages diversity. But this year has taught us that there is a lot more work to be done in all aspects of our lives.  I plan to hold time for a discussion of antiracist actions our division can take at our DEDB business meeting.  The day/time of the business meeting is not yet set, but info will be forthcoming as the schedule solidifies.  Remind your students that the business meeting is open to everyone!

Good luck with the rest of the year (vote!) and don’t forget to check in with yourselves and colleagues/friends/students about mental health.  See you all in 2021, my friends! 

Message from the Program Officer

Matt Rockman, DPO.DEDB@sicb.org

The move to an online meeting this year creates new opportunities for a better conference experience. Aside from facilitating attendance while barefoot with a cat on your lap, an online meeting means you can attend as many talks as you like- no conflicts between concurrent sessions. You can ask questions, make comments, and connect with your community through the online chat functions. It’ll be different, but the Society has made extraordinary efforts to make it a great experience.

Our division is proud to offer awards for Best Student Talks and Posters at the conference. The talks will be prerecorded with a live Q&A period. Join me there to let the students know how excited we are about their research. There will be several other talk and poster sessions covering a broad range of evolutionary and developmental biology, and several of the symposia speak directly to our division’s themes. You’ll want to be there for Genomic Perspectives in Comparative Physiology of Mollusks (some of our favorite sprialians!), An Evolutionary Tail: Evo-Devo, Structure, and Function of Post-Anal Appendages (featuring DEDB pioneer Billie Swalla and her tailless ascidians), and Integrative Biology of Pigment Organelles (with talks on color pattern development in evo-devo favorites like butterflies).

There’s still space to add to the conference—check out the society-wide newsletter to find the call for workshops. Workshops will be held in the days and weeks after the early-January “live” part of the meeting, and they provide a venue for live (synchronous) meetings with your colleagues, to communicate about the latest and greatest in methods, concepts, data, outreach, education, and more.

Message from the Secretary

Prashant Sharma, Secretary.DEDB@sicb.org

I’ll echo here the other officers’ thoughts on the myriad challenges and changes that 2020 has brought to our doorstep. In the past eight years that I have been a member of SICB, I have found interacting with peers, students, and postdocs at the annual meetings to be among the most rewarding experiences of our profession (I mean, I got to dance with BIllie Swalla at a SICB social once–hands-down highlight of my career). Yet, we look forward to the virtual meeting format at SICB 2021 as a vehicle for bridging the boundaries of locations and time zones, in a way that we never could before.

As one of the organizers of the Best Student Talks and Posters competition, I highly encourage members of DEDB to volunteer as judges! The entries are an absolute blast every year to spectate, but the feedback you can provide to student competitors in the role of a judge can make a huge difference to the next generation of young investigators in evo-devo. Please reach out to me (secretary.dedb@sicb.org) if you are interested in judging either format of presentations. Shortly before the start of the meeting, we’ll also be reaching out to the membership with more solicitations, in the hope of establishing a diverse and balanced panel of judges for the competition. Once again this year, after the competition, I will be mailing back to students a portion of the judging ballots that will contain written feedback from each judge. 

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative

Ryan Hulett, Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative

Greetings DEDB Students and Postdocs! Wishing you health and happiness! We want to reach out and let you know that we will be continuing the annual Evo-Devo Meet-ups this year for SICB 2021, in a virtual fashion. We will be contacting those folks that have registered in early December to coordinate the Evo-Devo Meet-ups!

For those of you that have participated in the past (or have attended a virtual conference recently), please give feedback or ideas on DEDB’s Evo-Devo meet-ups. We’d like to hear whether you think it’s valuable, how it can be improved, problems or bad experiences, the ease of signing up, new ideas, etc. Thanks!